30 October 2013

How To Have A Successful Newsletter

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A newsletter is a powerful tool that works alongside your website and social media. It basically forces communication with your subscribers because it shows up in their inbox. This is a good thing, if used wisely — but sadly, I often don’t see newsletters used well.

Give a reason to sign up

This doesn’t have to be “Sign up and get a free X!”. It can simply be a reason why people want to get your content, so mention why you’ll be emailing them and possibly how often. For my ebook, I offer a free recipe to subscribers. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s enough to get signups, and also showcases the product I’m trying to sell (since the recipe is from the ebook).

Give value and have a purpose

If all you’re doing is sending your latest blog post to your subscribers inbox, use an email-to-RSS feed instead (feedburner works). Brand it if you want (mailchimp offers this as a service). If you want more subscribers though, offer something unique and useful in your mail-outs, something they can’t get on your website — like original newsletter-only content, secret downloads or special offers/discounts. I send recipes to my mailing list often, and these recipes don’t appear on my site or anywhere else. So you need to be on the list to get them.

Be authentic

Yes, this comes up basically every time I write an article, but I stand by it. When you’re writing your newsletter, write it as a person, not as an impersonal business (even if you work for one). Write it as if you’re writing an email to a single person that you do business with.

Don’t over send

If you’re sending out a newsletter more than once a week, make sure you’ve let people know this prior to them signing up. Or give them an option for a weekly or monthly digest (most mailing list programs let you segment the list by frequency).

Encourage talking back

Newsletters are one-way, but they don’t have to be. When sending, use an email address you check, and verbalize that you like getting replies to each newsletter. This makes it seem more like a conversation and less like your subscribers are being talked at.

Give one actionable item in each mail-out

There should be a reason for every mail-out, probably in the form of a link to something. So make this prominent, and don’t overload the email with lots of links and action items.

Front and centre signup

Finally, to ensure the most subscribers, make sure your newsletter signup form is somewhere prominent on your site. This doesn’t have to be a popup window over your content when your site loads, but should be something people will see at a cursory glance. There are also ways to put your signup box into facebook (mailchimp has an app for that).

I’ve used the above steps to get a decent (by my standards) number of subscribers for my ebook and my band mailing lists. Moreover, both lists have a higher-than-average click-through rates on links within each mail-out. So I hope these points also help you with your newsletter.

Happy newslettering!

Top image from Imgembed.

This is a cross-post from Paul Jarvis.

Paul Jarvis is a web designer, author and gentleman of adventure. His next book, Everything I Know, will be released in January 2014.