Good newsletters are great; but very few newsletters are really good. Most are average and many are a not very well disguised sales pitch. Newsletters are marketing tools and writing for the reader is the key to success.

Here are my thoughts on newsletters – check your own newsletter out against these and I guarantee it will get better.

  • If you’re expecting your newsletter to work as a sales tool you’ll be disappointed; they’re for relationship marketing.
  • Don’t expect people to sign up for a newsletter, we all get too many of them, offer them a free tips sheet or report to get sign ups.
  • People get lots of newsletters, to get yours read it must be consistently good value for the reader, the primary focus should be useful info, not a sales pitch.
  • The subject line of a newsletter must make your reader curious or interested enough to open it, ‘Acme Widgets newsletter August 2010’ won’t do the job!
  • Every issue must be good enough to get people to open the next one, so every issue needs to be consistently brilliant! The best newsletters share information that helps the reader.
  • ‘Read more’ items often don’t get clicked through; short, concise and great value is the key to success, unless you are very good at dangling an irresistible ‘carrot’ in each introductory paragraph.
  • One nugget of information is worth far more than lots of bits of trivia. A newsletter is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and knowledge. A single article with really useful information will get your newsletter opened and read next time too.
  • If your newsletter will be read online, stick to a single column presentation, two columns are hard work for the reader as they have to scroll up and down – however, a narrower right hand column with ‘News headlines’ or ‘Special offer’ buttons can work.
  • Tips style newsletters work. Share your knowledge in bullet point tips – this works well for busy and impatient readers.
  • Ask your readers what they want in a newsletter, don’t assume you know. Use their responses to create a newsletter that they will want to read.
  • Read other people’s newsletters and identify what it is that you like – and hate – about them. Ask other people which newsletters they read regularly and what they like about them.
  • Post the main article from your newsletter on your blog, split it into tips on Twitter, and save it for the book you’ll write!
  • Instead of sending a newsletter out every month, send a list of the blogs you’ve written with hyperlinks to each one.
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