Whether you consider yourself a “newbie to newsletters” or you already know all the basics, learning how to perfect your content will help you to improve your open and click-through rates and create a monthly newsletter that your customers get excited about.
Instead of staring at a blank page every time you sit down to start writing, understanding the processes behind what makes an engaging newsletter gives you a purposeful direction and wonderful flow, from the beginning to the very end.
Creating a successful monthly newsletter isn’t as easy as sitting down and brainstorming, there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. From the very start of your marketing process, you need to nail the following:
1. Tone of Voice
Every great newsletter starts with this: a tone of voice that appeals to your audience and is consistent across your marketing.
Did a great lead magnet encourage them to sign up to your mailing list in the first place?
Bring that level of quality to your newsletter by using the same writer, or by truly understanding the core of your brand’s verbal identity. Consistency in marketing is absolutely key, and how you communicate with your audience is directly responsible for how they respond.
Newsletters can’t make an impact without a focus.
How many times have you read a newsletter that covers a few different topics, is difficult to follow, and contains way too much information?
Every newsletter should have one key subject/headline and a few pieces of side info – separated by clear graphics or structure.
Before you start waffling, you need to decide what the purpose of your newsletter is. For example, at 10X Marketing, we’ll choose one area of content marketing to focus on each month – whether that’s social media or lead magnets.
We’ve found that readers want to see a clear direction in your marketing messaging and want to see that you have a valid reason for reaching out. Whether you want to welcome a new member to the team or share some valuable insight – choosing a focus before you start typing away could make it more engaging for your readers, as well as transform the ROI of your monthly newsletter.
Once you have a focus in mind, it should be easy to add value every step of the way. We suggest pulling together a mix of useful and promotional content, following an 80/20 rule (80% educational, entertaining, and emotive, and 20% promotional).
Your job as the writer is to help your reader feel they’ve gained something from the time spent reading your newsletter, and if you just sell, sell, sell – people will unsubscribe from your email marketing, reducing your potential for leads.
When you’ve plotted out the core content of your newsletter, you’ll be ready to start writing.
Sometimes, even if you have a direction and a topic in mind, actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) can be a huge leap for someone who’s not confident in their writing abilities.
Remember: it’s okay to get help. If you have a friend in the office, why not ask for help writing an introduction? Once you have that vital launchpad, it’ll be easy to write the rest.
5. Layout and Structure
It’s important to bear the layout and structure of your monthly newsletter in mind throughout your writing process. Instead of solid blocks of text, readers respond better to broken-down copy and short, impactful sentences.
Not only does it look more visually appealing, but it actually helps keep the flow of your newsletter captivating and engaging.
In general, there’s a really easy and simple formula to follow for the structure of your content:
- Core pieces at the top
- Secondary and supporting pieces underneath
Whilst writing, use a mix of your own party and third-party content. You might have noticed we often hyperlink external references into our blogs, and monthly newsletters should be treated in a similar way. Never restrict yourself to plugging only your own content.
Including links to other pages, free industry PDFs and interesting, relevant articles will help you increase the value you provide to your subscribers. Internal references can also make a great CTA (but we’ll cover more of that later).
Once you’ve finished writing – first of all: celebrate. You’ve done something that intimidates you, and whilst it’s not quite time to send, you’ve made huge leaps and bounds in the email marketing process.
No longer do you have a blank page, you have an almost-fully-formed monthly newsletter – there are just a few more things to complete.
7. Editing and Proofreading
As we’ve mentioned before, proofreading is undeniably important. It’s vital for quality control and brand perceptions that you catch those pesky spelling mistakes before you send your newsletter.
If you can, use free tools like Grammarly, or even a second pair of eyes, to help you edit your copy.
Similarly, look out for sentences that made sense when you were writing them but could definitely be reworded for clarity. Don’t be discouraged if you notice lots of changes, every writer looks back at their work and thinks “why did I write that?”. That’s what proofreading is for!
We touched a little on using email templates earlier, but introducing branded, high-quality graphics and images to compliment your newsletter is bound to be eye-catching and captivating. You can easily use pre-existing content (like social media graphics) to enhance your reader’s overall experience without adding too much extra work.
9. Email Subject Lines
Email subject lines play a huge part in the success of your monthly newsletter. In fact, they are so vital for all email marketing that we’ve actually pulled together a full blog on increasing your conversion rates using the trusty rule of 6:
- Be straight to the point
- Remember the verb formula
- Use proof
- Introduce a killer question
- Push a sense of urgency
- Bring a surprise
10. Calls To Action
Call To Actions are another important end-step that help you measure the success of your newsletter.
A lot of businesses make the mistake of only using CTAs to encourage their customers to buy products, but there’s plenty of other ways these handy marketing tools can be utilized to their maximum potential.
Remember what we said about adding value earlier?
CTAs that allow readers to download more information on your industry (such as a “how-to” leaflet you’ve made), or “book a free discovery call” tend to have higher success over simply inviting your reader to buy something.
After all, the buying process is a journey and you need to guide a prospective customer through the “gathering information” stage before they will feel ready to purchase.
11. CRM and Targeting
Before you hit that all-important “send” button, you need to carefully consider who you are sending it to.
One important part of a successful, engaging newsletter is delivering it to relevant people. If you manage multiple businesses, sending a monthly newsletter on construction to your gym business subscribers could be considered spammy and overall damage your reputation.
You also need to manage unsubscribes (a legal requirement in the UK) and clear your mailing list of people who aren’t using their email addresses, as this will be affecting your overall conversion rates.
Using an email CRM system (like the ones we mentioned earlier) allow you to target specific mailing lists and manage unsubscribers with ease. If you aren’t yet using the likes of Mailchimp or Mailerlite to send emails, we highly recommend you start.
12. A/B Testing
If your newsletters just aren’t working, don’t be afraid to split-test.
A/B testing is another brilliant tool to measure what value, focus, and tone of voice your audience prefers. You can also swap around Call to Actions to see which are the most effective, and play around with different structures.
A/B testing will give you audience insight and allow you to compare what works and what doesn’t, for improved and engaging monthly newsletters.
Don’t Give Up, Get Help
When you’ve “tried your best but don’t succeed”, it’s okay to admit newsletters aren’t for you. However, the benefits email marketing can bring to all companies are just too advantageous to ignore.
Instead of throwing the towel in and giving up, consider outsourcing your content creation.
As content marketing specialists, we will help you nurture prospect leads into valued customers with a highly targeted email marketing strategy.
Find out more here.