Email newsletters are an effective way to cultivate clients and prospects so as to retain their lifetime value. It is an excellent way to keep your clients informed about products/services and any changes you may want to effect in running your business. It is also a way to connect better with them as it puts a human face to your brand and makes you more approachable and trustworthy.
Brands who have hacked newsletter writing have found that it’s a great way to share relatable anecdotes. They find a way to link the story with brands. When done correctly, newsletters can drive higher website traffic, sales of products and all-around better engagement. In fact, 81% of B2B marketers say their most used form of content marketing is email newsletters.
If you have not taken advantage of this type of content marketing, it’s time to get on the train. And to get you started we are serving you kick-ass newsletter writing tips for schools, startups, government agencies, and political candidates.
Writing Newsletters that Convert
Well-targeted newsletters are an essential part of your content marketing campaign. The key is to make the content of your newsletters valuable to the readers. You can use your newsletters to keep clients abreast of new developments in your business.
But, first things first, before you jump into writing your first newsletter, here are some questions you need to answer.
- What do you hope to achieve with your newsletter? This is the ‘why’. You must have your why clear in your mind because it is going to determine the type of content writing you will be doing. Will it be informational? Will you be writing to entertain? What is your goal?
- Who is the recipient? Think of your recipient as one person. What is their name? Where are they from? Where do they live? What do they do? Why are they reading your newsletter? These are all important factors to write down as you create their persona.
- What actions do you want them to take after reading your newsletter? This is the Call To Action. (CTA) Every newsletter must have a clearly defined purpose. Do you want them to buy something? Register for an event? Invite someone else to subscribe to the newsletter. You don’t need a blanket CTA for every newsletter. You need one that will work for each one you send out.
This is the planning process you need to follow whether you are a school, government agency, start up or political candidate. Of course, the answers to these questions will vary and that is what is responsible for the different approaches to newsletter writing.
Now that we have ticked off the basics, let us talk about the newsletter proper.
Newsletter Writing Style Guide
These newsletter writing tips will help you create the right tone for your newsletters. It covers your tone, mode of address, how to write your subject line, create the content and write a catchy call to action.
Your newsletter is like any other email. (Actually, some people call newsletter emailers.) The more you make your email sound as natural as if you were speaking to them face to face, the better.
You should decide early on in your newsletter writing how you want to sound. Do you want to sound formal, informal or semi formal? If you have done the job of outlining your customer persona and thinking about why you are writing, it will be easier for you to decide on your tone.
Mode of address
It is also important for you to decide how to address your recipients. If you are using a specialised email client (Mailchimp for example) you will have the option of addressing your recipients by their first name, first and last name or last name.
To use these options, it is important that you know your readers. For example, if you run a school, a degree of formality in addressing the parents may be required. Some parents may find it insulting if you address them by their first name. For most startups, addressing people by their first names is normal, but your specific audience may make this undesirable. Also, the culture of the people receiving your email is an important factor.
After the salutation comes the subject line. The subject is a strong determiner of whether people open your email or not. Based on research 47% of email recipients will open an email because of the subject line alone, while 69% will report email as spam based solely on the subject line. Your subject line should contain a power word and a sentiment word. Questions are better than statements because they arouse curiosity. Your subject line is a promise. Keep it short, simple and uncomplicated.
For example: “Quick Read: 10 exciting ways to brush your teeth” is a stronger subject line than “Ways of brushing your teeth”. Some email clients have added the option of adding names to the subject line. This can be used to add warmth and personalisation. But you need to be careful with how you read names [See mode of address above] A good template for a subject line is [Power/Sentiment word or phrase] + [Exciting topic]. Be careful with using some words in your subject line. According to Unbounce, “The words “free”, “help”, “per cent off”, and “reminder” in a subject line” have a negative impact on open rates.
Your Newsletter Content
Like blog post writing, the real value of your newsletter lies in the content. So, you should follow some of the best practices of bloggers. You can read about how to generate ideas for your newsletters here. But, you may wonder how long your newsletter should be. Industry best practices is 200 words. If you are wondering how long 200 words is, look at the next paragraph.
Although a newsletter of 200 words or 20 lines will give you the best results. [The industry term for this is click-through-rate]. This is not a hard and fast rule. Whether people read your longer email or not is highly dependent on what you send to them and when you send it.
The paragraph above is 52 words long. So if you are looking for 200 words, multiply by 4.
So, make your content entertaining and exciting to your readers, and you will have higher click-through rates. Make it boring and unexciting and they will most likely leave you unread or worse still, unsubscribe.
Ending your newsletter
As mentioned before, you should end each newsletter with a Call to Action. (CTA) Your CTA captures what you want your readers to do after reading your email. For your CTA to move the reader, it should contain three things.
- A promise statement
- An action statement
- An immediacy word
The promise statement tells the reader whether this is a paid or not paid action. For example: “You get two for the price of one,” tells the reader that his next action will cost something, but it is less than it would have cost him. Another example is: “It’s absolutely free, no hidden charges” In this case the promise is without any obligations.
After you make your promise statement, you should follow through with the action statement. The action statement answers the question. So what are we to do next? So, let’s go back to our first example, “You get two for the price of one when you order online.” This tells the reader that his next action should be to order online. If he visits the store, he doesn’t get this offer.
And finally, you add your immediacy word. You want your reader to take action at once. So you tell them to. Back to our first example. “You get two for the price of one when you order online. Order now!” The immediacy word is ‘now’ and it is often used. You may choose to use other immediacy words like. “Today”, “Don’t delay”, “Right away”. Of course, your context would determine which word you use or how you use them.
Other Newsletter Writing Tips
Choose an Email Marketing Service Provider
It is best to get an email marketing service provider from the get-go. This way, you are better able to manage your newsletters. Read up on email marketing providers before you make this decision. Some providers offer free services for small businesses. You may wish to look up MailChimp, ConstantContact and ConvertKit. Here is a great list of 19 service providers you may want to investigate. Personal email platforms like Gmail or Outlook tend to be restrictive. For instance, Gmail only allows you to send up to 500 emails within 24 hours and only to 500 different email addresses. Moreover, email marketing service providers offer additional benefits and services like automation, customisation, email database management, and campaign management services.
Build Your Email List
An email list can serve as a moneymaker for your business. With a list, you get qualified leads, that is, people who are willing to buy from you. They are already interested in your business and want to hear from you. To create a list, you need a platform to store your list. Don’t just assume that people you have exchanged emails with in the past should automatically be added to your list. You should ask them. This means you should have an opt-in page and an opt-in form. A good place to place to host this is on your website. Ask your developer to include an email opt-in page for you on your website.
You can also add people directly to your list after getting their permission to do so. For example, in your brick and mortar store, you can have a form where people can show interest in getting your newsletter. Also, if you host events offline, you can ask people to opt in and then you can manually add them later.
Add Value to the Reader
Understand your audience and operate within their threshold. Pay attention to results. You will lose subscribers when you send excessive or irrelevant emails.
Group Your Audience By Engagement
Some recipients will interact with all or most of the newsletters you send to them. Create loyalty and reward programs to make the most committed recipients feel special. If you are using an email client, you will get reports of your most engaged readers. The reports will also show those who are not reading your emails. You may choose to create a short feedback form asking if they would want to opt out.
Grow Your List Organically
You probably have a measure of fame and popularity before you start sending out a newsletter. But that doesn’t automatically translate to a robust subscriber list. You still have to build one from scratch. As you build your email list, test the newsletters you send out to be sure it’s what your audience wants from you. Focus less on what you have to say and more on what they want to hear. Learn as much as you can about their pain points and their expectations of you.
An important note for political candidates: Never buy or share an email list. It won’t work because your newsletters will be treated as spam by ISPs, leading to poor deliverability. Moreover, image is everything. If your recipients think you got their emails treacherously, it can set their imagination running wild on how you handle other issues. Grow your email list organically.
Regularly Scrub Your Email Database
Scrub your email database regularly, remove bounces and toxic addresses and choose your preferred email validation service carefully.
We understand that newsletter writing might be daunting for beginners. But if you plan ahead and follow the newsletter writing tips we provided, you will be writing some kickass newsletters in no time. Remember, you can always reach out to us if you need any help along the way especially if you are a government agency, school, startup or political candidate. We will be happy to offer you some specific and practical pointers during a 30-minute free consultation. If you need more help with your content management, why not contact us now.