How to Make a Newsletter that People Read

Feb 27, 2015

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How to Make a Newsletter that People Read

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According to Dr. Jakob Nielsen, web usability consultant, “Email newsletters are the best way to maintain customer relationships on the Internet.” Email newsletters allow a company’s brand to remain interactive with otherwise dormant customers. They keep clients current with informative content. Additionally, email newsletters are personalized, making each edition impact a variety of demographics. Finally, email newsletters are much more cost-efficient than their print alternative, making the return on investment even greater, given the relatively minor demand on time and resources.

That’s great. Sounds like newsletters are a great way to engage your audience. But…are they?

The answer depends on whether you’re writing a newsletter that people want to read. Sending out a newsletter with terrible open rates and click-throughs means that something is wrong. It’s easy to send out a newsletter; it’s hard to do it right. Here’s how to make a newsletter that people read in a couple simple steps.

How to Make a Newsletter that People Read

1. Evaluate

First, do you even need an email newsletter? If it’s not right for your audience and demographic, don’t do newsletters. If it’s not right for your company’s end goals, don’t do newsletters.

2. What kind of newsletter should you send?

Make your newsletter focused. Keep your newsletters on one topic. Instead of trying to  cover your entire company in one newsletter, pick one area of interest and cover it really well. Have one main goal for the newsletter, and make sure each edition of the newsletter furthers that main goal.

3. Provide educational content

It’s not all about you (your company). Make your newsletter’s content 90% educational and 10% promotional. Your readers don’t love your company that much, but if you’re giving them interesting, timely, relevant content, they’ll keep reading. We’ve talked a lot about this topic – check it out here.

How to Write Newsletters that People Read

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4. Create creative subject lines

Develop creative, engaging, enticing subject lines. Oftentimes, it is the subject line which prompts readers to open an email. Spend time making your subject lines perfect.

5. Pick one CTA

Related to #2 (make your newsletter focused) is pick one call to action. Make one CTA the central focus; otherwise, you’ll dilute their potency.

6. Keep it clean

Avoid cluttering your newsletter with a flashy design and lots of copy. Remember white space – your mobile readers will thank you.

7. Alt text

Make sure your images have alt text explaining what the image is. If your subscribers don’t have images enabled in their email, they won’t have a clue as to what the image is without alt text.

8. Test!

The most important part of making a newsletter that people read is to test your audience. What are their preferences? You’ll figure them out through trial and error, A/B testing and many, many newsletters. Keep playing around – it’s the mystery that you, as a marketer, get to keep solving over and over again.


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