Newsletter ideas that stop your writing going down the drain

Written by Jeremy Knight  |  19, February, 2013  |  0 Comments
Newsletters, schmoozeletters! Let’s be frank, newsletters have been around for longer than you and I have been walking the planet. There’s nothing new here, nothing exciting to see, “move along folks, move along.”

But here’s a thing, the CSI guy smells a rat and the Coroner says she’s found a pulse! Holy schmoley, there’s life in the old dog yet it would seem.

But what are these newsletter ideas that still work?

The way things were way back when

Newsletters appeared in the 16th century, pre-dating newspapers which were first published in the 17th. The first newsletter was circulated in England in the 1630s and featured stories about locals residing overseas. (Hhmm, human-interest stories, I wonder if that might work today?)

Fast-forward a few hundred years and there are thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands of newsletters, magazines and newspapers, and we’ve not even got as far as the Internet age yet.

Then Sir Tim gets inventive and before you know it there is more content published every two days than was published from the dawn of civilisation until 2003.

Some say we are already drowning in a flood of mediocre content bought about by a realisation that traditional marketing no longer works so well, and the growing popularity of content marketing as the cure. Others maintain we are merely in the foothills of the mountains of crap that are about to be visited upon us. Nice!

Whichever view prevails, there is no denying the enormity of the challenge facing the humble company content editor. What in the world can be done to rise above this tsunami of noise, and how on earth is a newsletter even relevant today?

OK, there’s the problem, but what’s the solution?

Newsletter ideas for getting your publication read depend on what type of newsletter you want to put out.

Arguably there are opportunities to move into the space vacated by magazine publishers who failed to acknowledge the anomaly between rising costs of paper, print and postage, falling subscription and advertising income, and readers' appetite for a more interactive online experience.

But those guys had big teams of writers, editors, designers, picture editors etc. So, to do that you’ll need a content team, either in-house like Hubspot, or outsourced to freelancers, or an agency.

However, if you already post blogs at least weekly then you have the core content for an editorial led newsletter right there.

Blogs rely on pulling readers to the content whereas an email newsletter ‘pushes’ the content out to your list. This is not a recommendation to ‘spam’ your contacts, more a suggestion that adopting a proactive opt-in strategy across key touch points will grow a highly valuable marketing asset and reach people who otherwise would not have seen your content.

Repurposing content in this way will improve ROI on this activity.

That’s what we do with the Equinet newsletter, Content Marketing Age, and we are typically getting unique open rates of over 30% (Smart arse - I know).

What does your community really want to read? Avoid making it all about you. You know... our new product, our latest award, our best offer. That’s not going to break down the barriers of indifference and win you new customers.

Better to make it about them, their fears, their problems, their interests and needs. Tell stories about how you’ve helped people like them, let people like them tell how they found what they needed with you.

Make it personal, make it human, and make it matter. To do this successfully you need to really understand the person you are writing for. If you haven’t spent hours getting to know their likes, dislikes, motivations and inspirations, your content is less likely to hit the mark.

Real pros like Chris Brogan keep it very personal and very real. Every Sunday Chris sends a text only newsletter, which is always highly engaging. He asks a lot of questions and really does want you to answer. Indeed, he is very likely to respond if you do.

The point is, Chris is talking directly to you, even though his newsletter is sent to many thousands around the world. He uses personalisation, a conversational tone and a human touch to really give the impression that he is sitting there with you. His newsletter rarely sells, but when it does you don’t mind because that’s the exception. It does not interrupt, but rather, it becomes a feature of your Sunday morning, you can even end up looking forward to receiving it.

Chris’s comment about email marketing summarises rather well the wider challenge faced by anyone publishing an email newsletter today. He says,“The best of all the online marketing tools is also the most maligned and the least understood. Email marketing isn’t dead. BAD email marketing is dead.”

The best newsletter ideas for your business will mix a human touch with a big injection of personality, a significant focus on the needs of your treasured readers and clever use of current marketing technologies.

Newsletters aren’t dead, only BAD newsletters are dead - Cheque's in the post Chris ;).

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