Scarily good newsletters that get results
Halloween is nigh, so I thought I’d write a scary story … about newsletter writing!
Does the thought of writing newsletters scare the living daylights out of you? Do you get a jolt of fear every time you realise the next publishing date is imminent? Do you even write regular newsletters at all?
If any of the above scenarios are familiar, here's help to soothe those fears and make the whole process easier, including some content ideas.
Every business should send out regular newsletters. They are an essential part of your marketing plan, helping to build your brand, whatever your business. You need to remind your customers that you’re there and newsletters are a cost-effective way of doing that.
So, here are 10 ways to take the fear out of writing newsletters:
1. Plan – create a plan of what topics you’ll write about in each newsletter, and when. Schedule dates for when the copy should be written by, proofreading, doing a test, and finally publishing. Seeing a few months – or even a year – in advance helps to take out the panic and fear.
2. Frequency – decide on how often you’ll send your newsletters. Monthly is best, or even bi-monthly. But if you have enough topics to write about, more frequently is good. Try to avoid more than once a week, though – people may get fed up with so many emails filling up their inboxes, or in the post if you plan to print and send.
3. Topics – it’s often a challenge to find things to write about. The obvious ones are your products or services, but the danger here is that you end up trying to sell instead of entertaining and helping. The general rule for newsletter writing is 95% interesting information and only 5% sales.
Topics could include:
Latest industry news
Case studies – how you helped a client
Spotlight on an employee
Product benefits and how they help your customers
4. Target audience – keep in mind who your readers are. If you have different client types, you may need to think about splitting your mailing list into sections to target specific newsletters at a certain sector.
5. Design – if you’re creating the newsletter yourself, use an email marketing tool such as Mailchimp that guides you through the design process; ideally, keep it clean and simple. The main design template structure should include your contact details, logo and strapline. Once that's done, all you have to do every week or month is simply drop your new text into the boxes.
Always personalise your newsletters and make sure the individual's name is spelled correctly.
6. Headlines – to avoid your newsletters being binned, you need a catchy headline to hook people in. These aren’t always easy, but at least with newsletters you don’t need to worry about key words as you do with blogs and web content – be as fun and creative as you like! Just be careful not to be offensive, and think about what your newsletter is offering your readers. For instance, if you’re selling a new insurance product, use a scenario that could happen if they don’t have that insurance cover. Humour often helps!
7. Getting down to the writing – when writing your news items, use layman’s terms. You may be the expert in your industry, but your readers may not understand technical terms. So always write in plain English.
Whether you have a brand tone of voice or use your own, storytelling is a good way to get your news and information across. Use real-life scenarios to help bring your stories alive.
For email newsletters, either focus on one longer topic, or include two or three shorter ones which are linked to your website – see number 10 for more on that.
8. CTA – always have a call to action somewhere in the newsletter. Often, the best place to do your sales bit is at the end, where you can then invite the reader to contact you.
9. Proofread – make sure that you and others proofread your newsletters. There is nothing worse than sending out your mailing and then noticing a mistake afterwards! Proofread at least twice.
10. Improve your website hit results – ideally, provide links to further information in some or all of your news items, linking either to your website or elsewhere. One or two links to other industry-known organisations help with authenticity and trust, but obviously you want people to visit your website too. So make sure your website is kept up to date with blogs or other content to link to. And include a ‘Subscribe’ box to your newsletter on your website.
Not enough time to do all this? Then hire a copywriter! And if you need help with managing the mailing itself, a virtual PA would take that onerous task off your hands. Many virtual PAs offer writing services too, but be careful that they really can write good copy. For the best results, always use experts in their fields.
For help with creating your newsletters or any other copywriting advice, do get in touch – either email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on +44 7799 648321.