Learn how to write newsletters that help potential customers do more.
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The following excerpt comes from The Content Marketing Handbook by Robert W. Bly. Buy it now on Amazon Barnes & Noble
Regardless of whether you increase brand awareness, generate leads or make direct sales, there are two ways to sell your products and services to your newsletter subscribers. One is to place small online ads in regular editions. These ads are typically around a hundred words long and contain a link to a page on your website where the subscriber can read and order the product. The other option is to send standalone email messages to your subscribers and re-promote a specific product and link to your website.
My newsletter, The Direct Response Letter (www.bly.com/report), is not the most successful or most read on the planet. But marketing results and subscriber comments tell me that my formula for creating the newsletter – including copy and layout – only takes an hour or two per issue. I want to share the formula with you so that you can create an effective newsletter yourself – yourself, on your computer, in just one morning or afternoon.
When reading a free newsletter (as opposed to one that you pay for), people spend little time reading it before deleting it. So I use a quick read format that subscribers can read online once they open it.
In this format, my newsletter always contains five to seven short articles, each with just a few paragraphs. Each article can be read in less than a minute, so it never takes more than seven minutes to read the entire issue, although I doubt most people do. I advise against having only a headline and a one-line description of the article with a link to the full text of the article. This will force your subscribers to click to read your articles. Just do it to them.
How do you write these mini articles for newsletters? Here are some suggestions from marketing expert Ilise Benun from Marketing Mentor (www.marketing-mentor.com):
- Think of yourself as a lead. Your job is to share useful information with those who can use it.
- Pay close attention to questions, problems and ideas that arise during your work or when interacting with customers.
- Distill the lesson (or lessons) into a tip that you can share with your network via email, post, or even in simple conversations.
- Include the problem or situation as an introduction to your tip. Distill it down to the essentials.
- Then give the solution. Make sure you take some action. Readers especially love something that they can use immediately.
- Describe the outcome or benefit of these solutions to create an incentive to act. If there are tools they can use to measure results, give them a link to websites that offer those tools.
- Add tips that readers can use without work: expressions that they can use literally, clauses, checklists, forms, etc.
- List websites and other resources where readers can find more information.
Do you need more ideas on what and how you can design a newsletter that readers love? The writer John Forde offers the following tips:
- Your reader is smarter than you think. Never speak to them even during the education or information. And never think they won't notice if you haven't done your homework.
- Your reader prefers stories to lists of facts. You will find it much easier to keep your attention by adding many aspects of human interest to the articles you write.
- Your reader expects occasional profundity. The deeper you can accommodate your reader, the greater your relationship between editor and reader, the more they recommend your newsletter friends and the longer they stay active on your mailing list.
- Trust promotes action. The more the reader trusts you, the more sincerely they look at your message and the more likely they are to take the actions you recommend.
- Your reader expects emotions. Becoming personal means becoming emotional. But be careful in two ways. First, be passionate about your position, but not crazy. Second, over time, good writers express the full range of emotions (fear, greed, anger, desire, vanity, etc.). You cannot fake this. But do not suppress it in your newsletter copy either.
- Strengthen the old, introduce the new. When you write a newsletter, "you almost always preach to the choir". This means that much of your copy addresses the opinions and principles that you and your readers already share. But just as much, you have to make sure that you introduce, reinforce and illuminate a new direction to take. By repeating core ideas, you strengthen the good feelings of your readers for your newsletter. However, by saying something new, you also convey understanding.
Article ideas for company newsletters
Here is a checklist of 20 article ideas to help you identify topics of high reader interest that can help your business or inform potential customers:
- Product stories. New products, improvements to existing products, new models, new accessories, new options and new applications.
- News. Joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, new business areas, new departments and other corporate news. Also industry news and analysis of events and trends.
- Tips. Product selection, installation, maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting tips.
- How-to article. Similar to tips, but with more detailed instructions. Examples: using the product, designing a system or choosing the right type or model.
- Case stories. Either in detail or briefly, reporting on success stories of product applications, service successes, etc.
- People. Company advertising, new hires, transfers, awards, anniversaries, employee profiles, customer profiles, stories about human interest (unusual jobs, hobbies, etc.).
- Milestones. "1000th Unit Delivered," "Revenue Reaches $ 1 Million," "Division Celebrates 10th Anniversary," etc.
- Sales news. New customers, accepted bids, renewed contracts and satisfied customer reports.
- R&D New products, new technologies, new patents, technology awards, inventions, innovations and breakthroughs.
- Explanatory articles. How a product works, industry overviews and background information on applications and technologies.
- Customer stories. Interviews with customers, photos, customer news and profiles, guest articles from customers about their industries, applications and positive experiences with the product or service of the provider.
- Photos with captions. People, facilities, products and events.
- Columns. Letter from the President, letters to the editor, guest columns and regular contributions such as "Questions and Answers" or "Tech Talk".
- Manufacturing stories. New techniques, equipment, raw materials, success in the production line, detailed explanations of the manufacturing processes, etc.
- Community affairs. Fundraisers, special events, arts support, scholarship programs, social responsibility programs, environmental programs, and employee and business involvement in local / regional / national events.
- IT stories. New computer hardware and software systems, improved computing and its benefits for customers, new applications and explanations of how systems serve customers.
- Service. Background information on the company's service facilities, case studies of outstanding service activities, new services for customers, new hotlines, etc.
- History. Articles on corporate, industrial, product and community history.
- Interviews. With key employees of the company, engineers, service personnel, etc .; with customers; and with suppliers (to illustrate the quality of the materials that go into your products).
- Gimmicks. Content, quizzes, puzzles, games and cartoons.