In our previous blog we established that a newsletter is really necessary for a business. If you didn’t get to read it, here’s the link. To summarise the reasons, they are:
This time we look at some of the nuts and bolts including what you should do or at least consider BEFORE, DURING and AFTER compiling your newsletter.
You need to consider your objectives. What are you hoping to achieve with your newsletter? Common objectives are usually to communicate with your base, market products or services to them, build credibility and boost your company’s reputation, generate leads, convert leads to sales and to engage with your base. Mostly you’d want to do a little of each of the above but for each edition, there’s likely to be one overarching objective and a few ‘secondaries’.
Once you know what they are, you’ll know who amongst your subscribers you need to talk to and what conversations you should be having to have.
Either way, keep it quite short and simple – make it quick and aim for a click. In other words, offer short, concise snippets and let people click through to the content. You want them on your website after all!! This way, people are not ‘forced’ to read everything, they can click through to whatever interests them. Again, a great chance you’ll keep them engaged.
Let’s go back to two elements mentioned above – your audience and content.
Understanding your AUDIENCE is really crucial as it impacts the type of content you diseminate as well as the language you use, the images you select etc etc. Bear in mind that you might have to segment your audience. My split is generally past pupils who have been on a course and have different needs to my ‘general subcribers’ as they have not attended a course – and are still potential clients.
There are times when it’s relevant to look at alternate groupings such as when there’s something happening that’s specific to a province or city – as opposed to the whole segment. It’s important to have the ability be quite granular in your segementation – and most newsletter tools can facilitate this requirement.
What to write about is always a burning question. It’s best to plan CONTENT in advance and to run with themes. A content calendar helps with this. Your newsletter content should ideally link to something – or even a few things – such as your latest blog, a new product launch or things newsworthy enough to connect with your ‘tribe’.
Once you have these things lined up, you need to think process and decide on the following:
No matter what you decide, the following is critical:
Your newsletter should always have a start, a middle and an end – an introduction, a body and a conclusion. You should think about the same structure for each paragraph!
Put in the time to get your subject lines, headers and headlines right. It’s no good putting in a huge amount of effort if no one reads any of it. You have to grab attention. If you’re battling with this, try Title Generator. Some of the titles generated are absolute garbage but you’ll have enough options to work with and will find or adapt something that will be great for your newsletter.
Even with the greatest headline on earth, if you don’t get the content right, you’ll lose your audience – not just this time but possibly forever. They might not unsubscribe right away but when they decide to do a big clean up, you’ll be one of the first to go.
There are a few things you should consider when creating your content – be it the main body of the newsletter or the snippets with click-throughs:
There are endless options in terms of structure but it really boils down to two:
Come to a decent conclusion and you definitely can include a call to action – if you want to. Ask for a response to a question, ask for feedback about the newsletter and a particular item addressed in the letter and you can definitely ask them to share your newsletter with anyone that might find it useful.
Last but not least – check, check and re-check before you send! Ideally get someone else to read it because you generally see what you ‘want’ to see. I find reading it out loud helps with refining my grammar – and helps to be sure that everything makes sense.
Test EVERYTHING. Send yourself and someone else a test mail. Click on every single link – even if it’s one that was in your newsletter from a previous edition. You never know what may have come undone since your prior mailing.
Make sure that your web site and social media platforms are all aligned – if there is something you refer to in your content such as a competition, a calendar, new content or a special offer. Make sure it is in place and published BEFORE you hit send.
Make your content sharable. Images should all be pin-able, social media sharing tools should be available and important sections should be highlighted for tweeting (a bit more technical but really cool functionality).
Choose stunning, relevant, funny or really clever images to help grab attention and highlight important content or calls to action.
And one last time: check before you send!
Track your emails and monitor progress. See who has opened your newsletter, read it or ignored it. Also track comments and see which links have been clicked on – in the interest of learning as much as possible about your audience.
Keep your mailing list up to date as you receive additions or amendments. That way they won’t cause last-minute delays as you’re about to hit send!
Finally, have fun. You should look forward to talking to your clients almost as much as you look forward to a coffee and catch-up with a friend. Essentially that’s what you’re doing (maybe without the coffee)! Make a start and you’ll find it becomes easier as you get into the swing of things and if you feel a little like you’re talking to yourself, don’t worry. I addressed this in a recent blog and it’s equally relevant to blogging as it is to sending newsletters – here’s the link.
Now you know that a newsletter is a critical component of your digital marketing mix. You also know how to get one up and running. What are you waiting for?
Here’s to ongoing, meaningful contact with clients and potential clients!