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How to write a newsletter for email - helpful tips

How to write a newsletter for email – helpful tips

Email newsletters are a relevant and powerful way to stay in touch with your audience. But for a stretched marketing team they can also be daunting, with never ending deadlines and constant expectations.

To help you tap into this resource and get the most from your subscribers we have pulled together some of our top tips for creating email newsletters. Sit back, enjoy and get ready to create some awesome newsletters (alongside some useful set up to help you understand what you’re doing).

Why are newsletters useful for businesses?

Email newsletters are a pretty straightforward concept. Businesses email informational content in a newsletter template to a list of subscribers. In the world of digital content consumption, where some companies make profit out of simply providing fascinating newsletters, building a following keeps you relevant. Done well a newsletter can be used to retain loyal customers, promote services and build awareness all at a low cost.

Newsletters, as opposed to other content materials provide businesses with:

  • A regular contact point: Newsletters should be sent regularly, often weekly or monthly. Unlike other forms of content you can be sure that your subscribers are getting a consistent touch point with you. This can act as a quick nudge to re-engage or simply keep you top of mind.
  • A chance to demonstrate expertise: An interesting and well informed newsletter helps to establish you as an industry leader amongst your readership. This translates into a more trusting relationship where customers feel they can rely on your advice and judgement.
  • A long term nurturing opportunity: Subscribers sign up to hear from companies regularly, which means you have the opportunity to engage and nurture them over the long term. 
  • A low cost distribution: Emails are arguably the cheapest form of content distribution you are going to find. No expensive billboards, design work or hosting costs – just a template and your words. Furthermore email gives you direct contact with interested customers, unlike wider audience interactions such as social media or blog article. Landing in someone’s inbox is often as close as you can come to having a one to one conversation.

Is a newsletter right for your business?

First let’s explore the big question ‘do you even need a newsletter?’ Is it because of that ROI stat someone quoted at your last department meeting, a general/desperate need for more content or do you have a legitimately thought through plan to engage?

Like all good marketing enterprises, the backbone of a good newsletter is plenty of background research.

  • What sort of information are people interested in from your industry?
  • How will you provide something of value for your target audience?
  • Do you have the resources to regularly create a useful resource for this audience?

This research then needs to be weighed against your own business goals. What do you want to achieve with this type of content? Is it more leads, customer retention, advertising new products?

Be critical when analysing this information. If your target audience wants news that you simply don’t have access to or you are looking for very short term results, it’s best to be realistic and focus your attention on a marketing effort better suited to your situation. Newsletters are a fantastic resource but only if they align with your target audience’s needs and your own goals.

Finding your newsletter focus

The first step to gathering an interested and valuable following is deciding what the focus of your newsletter will be.

The best way to have your newsletter immediately blacklisted is to make it unfocused, overly cluttered or simply not interesting. Usually this happens is because every department wants in on the big newsletter email and you end up with every type of business promo being chucked in. This in short leads to a jumbled mess haunted by the promise of strategic content. All written material needs to have a clear and balanced flow – email newsletters are no exception.

Giving your newsletter a firm direction and focus will make it instantly more coherent. This could mean selecting a specific activity to talk about, or a rotating roster of subjects. Whatever the focus, understanding the point of your email newsletter, the information it will contain and who this will appeal to is key to delighting your audience.

Getting the right subscribers

Which brings us round nicely to our next key point: Once you’ve decided on your focus, make sure you’re getting the right subscribers.

How do you do this? Set your expectations clearly on your subscriber page. This means setting out exactly what content your newsletter will  cover and how often potential subscribers will hear from you.

But won’t this lower the number of people subscribing to my newsletter?

If you do it right, yes it definitely should. Which means that you can be sure that your email list includes only people who are genuinely interested in your content and who are most likely to engage with you.

You can’t con people into wanting to read your newsletter, however much you may want new leads. So giving people a clear idea of what their getting into saves them time and lowers your unsubscribes.

Creating a template format

Good newsletters have a consistent, clear design that arranges the information in an easy to read, uncluttered manner. ‘Fancy’ is not the key to email layouts where the rule is best described as ‘the simpler the better’. Readers want an easy-to-read template that allows them to quickly find what they are interested in. Anything more than that gets in the way.

Take time to work out your layout before you start adding text content. This will save you huge amounts of energy and frustration when it comes to organising your copy – no fun is ever had trying to fit lines of text into a tiny space.

Nailing the technical side of your email formatting is also essential. Most emails are now opened on devices other than a computer screen, so your template needs to be responsive and mobile friendly. It is worth testing extensively on a number of devices before sending your template live.

Writing your content- informing not selling

While a newsletter can be a good way to inform your audience about deals, events and new products, it’s probably not what they want to hear about 100 per cent of the time (unless that’s what you promised them when they subscribed).

Consistent hard sells without the valuable content to make it worthwhile will definitely turn off even your most loyal followers , so it’s important you get your balance right. We would advise a steady 90 per cent informative/educational content to 10 per cent promotional. This means when you have some exciting news about your products, go ahead and share it, but this will be a once a month, possibly even less regular occurrence … not every single week.

Creating emails that convert

Newsletters provide a fantastic opportunity to nurture your subscribed audience, but are there any tricks to pushing them over the conversion line? Fortunately there are indeed and we will share some of our favourite ones with you.

  1. Nail the subject line: Once your audience subscribes you can guarantee that your email newsletter will arrive in their inbox. What you can’t take for granted is that they will take the time to open said email. This is where your subject line comes in – to compell that all-important click! There are some different ways you can go with your subject line, and it’s worth considering what will go down best with your particular target audience.
  2. Consistency and clarity: This approach clearly announces your regular newsletter the same way each month. Subject lines are simple, short and inform the receiver exactly who they are and what the email is. For example ‘Castleford: weekly marketing insights newsletter’. This technique can work well for a very established audience that is committed to your subject matter. However it can get a bit dull and it fails to provide a reason for people to open their mail.
  3. Engaging and enticing: The alternative approach is to create snappy, exciting subject lines appropriate to each email. For example ‘The restaurant openings you need to know about’ or ‘20 killer marketing strategies you should be using’. The trick with these is to match them to your audience. It’s best to avoid sounding too click baity, though.

2.On point preview text

Modern unopened emails don’t just show the subject line. Preview text appears immediately below and accounts for 35 to 140 characters, depending on the email provider.

Commonly the preview text will show the first line of the email, however this is not always the case. It’s important to check and optimise the text that users will see when you email arrives. You don’t get much opportunity to persuade people to read your email so make the most of every character you can.

3.Write for your target audience

The success and failure of your content is decided by the people who will or won’t read it. Therefore every decision you take should be predicated on what they want. This relates to your template design, sending frequency, paragraph length and even the colour of your CTA.

Remember to take any feedback seriously and even consider asking unsubscribers to explain why they left your mailing list.

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Cathy Breed
Cathy Breed About the author

With a degree from Downing College at Cambridge University and experience as a Marketing Executive in London Cathy comes to the Castleford Blog with a reputation for deep research and high-level subject-matter expertise. Her current writing portfolio covers artificial intelligence, financial services, the property sector and not-for-profits. Clients include Stackchat, Surf Life Saving New South Wales, Fiserv and Investa.

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