First off, what is a newsletter?
A newsletter is a marketing tool businesses use to engage their customers. It involves sending out informational newsletters to interested parties. There are two different kinds of newsletters: those that are sent through traditional mail and those sent digitally via email. As you probably already know (because you’re not an idiot), email is a cheaper, faster way to send communications. It gives you instant and easy access to data that can be studied so that you can learn over time about your audience and readers.
What is typically in a newsletter?
Newsletters can contain a range of topics. It can include industry news, promotions, and articles most relevant to your audience. They can serve a variety of purposes such as increasing sales, raising awareness, educating the reader or disseminating information like announcements updates about your business or company. The possibilities are endless.
Why are newsletters the perfect way for entrepreneurs to brand and market themselves?
If you’re an entrepreneur or someone who is building a personal brand, you are in the perfect position to humanize your work. You have an advantage over big name companies to create a core connection with your audience and make them the center of your story. This allows you to give value by creating customized tailored content that leaves an impact and impression with your readers. When it comes time to make the sale, you will have already established trust and connection with your audience through your newsletter. Who doesn’t want that?
While we’re on the topic, I’m not in love with the word ‘newsletter’. To me, it feels outdated, corporate jargon-y, and super spammy. Would you click on a generic call-to-action link that reads: “Sign up to our newsletter to receive free updates and announcements!” Probs not.
I like sexier words like: Insider, Publication, Editorial, Happenings, or Guide.
I’ve written 284 “Guides” to date and there are a few things I have learned.
Decide on what you want to call your newsletters. Are they: newsletters, eMagazines, journals, etc. Decide on a name and stay true to it.
Content is key: Being clear on what your readers expect from you is essential. Decide what you want your newsletter to do. Remember it is just a vehicle for communicating with your audience. Do you want to inspire them, promote to them, teach them, update them...? Themes of your newsletter could be personal stories, industry news, blog post teaser, updates/announcements,
Keep it simple: When I work with clients to help them build their newsletters, my motto is always the same: Simplicity. From the overall design of the email, subject field, to actual content. No more than two colors otherwise it becomes busy. Keep consistent fonts sizes and colors. If you’re hitting your 5th & 6th paragraph in your email, you’re on your way to creating a cluttered newsletter. If there is that much text in your email, turn it into a blog.
Write in your authentic brand voice: If you are the face of your brand, be sure the text in your newsletter captures your personality. In other words, write how you talk. If your newsletter is written on behalf of your company, you’ll need to clarify the essence words or personality type of your company and write from that perspective i.e. hip, trendy, informative, snarky, sarcastic, friendly, helpful etc.
Don’t just sell: Never ever ever use your newsletter to just sell to people. It’s gross and people can smell it a mile away. If your newsletter is purely promotional it will send people away. I always follow the 80/20 rule; 80% content that is high value and relevant with no strings attached. This can be a personal story, case study, industry news, updates, quick tips/advice, etc. And 20% promotional copy, sales, etc.
Always leave a CTA (call-to-action): You always want to leave your reader with a next step, an action that flows seamlessly from the content they just read. This can be an invitation to work with you, a link to read more on your blog, a link to company website to learn more, or some other resource. Again, simplicity is key so just a one or two liner invitation works fine.
Other things to note: Figure out how often you want to send out your newsletter. Weekly is popular but I’ve seen monthly, quarterly, and even daily newsletters as well. Figure out what works for you. Be realistic in what you can produce. Pick the right email provider platform suitable for your needs. Mailchimp and Constant Contact are the most popular go-to providers. Stay consistent. Do this by creating an editorial calendar to keep you on track. I use my own home grown spreadsheet to track my newsletters but other options like Trello are also useful.
So off you go to build your own newsletter chock full of amazing content. Remember, personalization trumps all; there is another human on the other side who will be reading your newsletter so keep it people-centered and you can’t go wrong.