What’s black, white and read all over? Your newsletter — when it takes on the best qualities of a newspaper.
Interesting articles, prominent headlines and striking visuals are a given. What we’re delivering is a Sunday paper’s worth of information that’s valuable to you and your subscribers.
The strategy of many e-newsletters is to focus on one topic, perhaps linking to a single blog post or short e-book. But readers who aren’t interested in that specific subject will send the newsletter straight into the digital trash can. And there’s a high likelihood the next ones will get tossed unopened into the e-garbage, too, for the same reason. Or worse, readers will become annoyed by the repeated one-note-Suzy-pattern and unsubscribe.
But if the newsletter contains at least three articles like the front page of most newspapers, there’s a better chance at least one will connect with readers to help you maintain and even increase the number of subscribers.
Even with a target audience you know well, different types of stories appeal to readers. That’s why newspapers include local, business, sports and features sections. And within those sections are articles in various formats including long narratives, briefs, profiles, question-and-answer interviews, commentaries, how-tos and recipes.
Newsletters, too, should include a mix of content that not only informs but entertains and inspires to keep readers interested and engaged.
Also notice what types of stories aren’t in your newspaper. Some newsletters include long stories on their employees winning minor awards and details of their industry conventions – on the front page! Newspapers typically forgo such news about themselves unless they win a Pulitzer. Even when they do report on themselves, it’s typically inside a section and it’s brief. Newsletters should follow suit. Minor awards don’t connect much with a company’s own employees, let alone clients and potential customers. Stick to news people can use.
Proper spelling, grammar and Associated Press style are just the starting points for newspapers and newsletters alike. Copy should be complete, concise and clever, too.
The downside for you is that more can go wrong in editing a newsletter than editing a daily newspaper. Hyperlinks need to work and link to your website. You need a catchy subject line, otherwise there is zero chance the newsletter will be opened. And if you personalize your newsletter with recipients’ names, it better work. It’s annoying – often a subscription breaker – to receive a newsletter that says Hello (Insert Name). The key is for a newsletter team to test, test, test that every element works.
When it comes to the frequency of newsletters, less is definitely more. Some favorite name-brand retailers feel much less special because their newsletters arrive several times a week, sometimes littering inboxes several times a day.
The best newsletters are rare, almost like gifts. It’s like getting a commemorative special-edition newspaper from a hawker like Dewey Defeats Truman (ha!) or when your local team wins the NCAA Championship, Super Bowl or World Series.
One stellar special-edition newsletter example is Moo.com, a printer of colorful business cards and stationery. Their content is a useful mix of tips, inspiration and new products tied together with eye-candy art. They arrive every few weeks or so but they’re memorable and so appealing that, just like once upon a time when people clipped newspaper articles for their scrapbooks, they are worth saving in the Inbox in a “Newsletters I love” folder.
MAD Creative helps businesses communicate with their customers by designing, writing and editing newsletters. Here are a few of our clients.