So far we’ve established why you need a newsletter, how to go about creating one and the fact that you don’t want it to suck. Today we’re talking about what you should put in a newsletter (that doesn’t suck), as well as the things you shouldn’t include.
Now, your newsletter is an opportunity for you to connect with your community, make a great impression and hopefully connect with them on a deeper level. And the best part about it? You’ve already been invited because people have opted-in to receive your mailings. That’s the most difficult part. You’ve got access. Now you need to make the most of it by giving people something of value, so they invite you back. Here are 5 key things to put in your newsletter to ensure just that.
5 Things to put in a newsletter:
1. You. Your brand. And your bad ass content.
Be the very best that you can be here. This means personal, friendly, human and above all else, valuable. From the subject line to the header to the content to the footer, this should be seamlessly branded with fonts, colours and logos. It should also be jam-packed with content that not only highlights your website, social accounts and blog posts but also gives your subscribers a reason to keep reading.
The evaluation your audience makes as to whether or not to read your entire newsletter and get everything out of it that you intend (including encouraging click-throughs, engagement and sales) happens in literally seconds. Mere seconds. So make sure every section you put in a newsletter is relevant to your audience and in ways that speak to them.
Super awesome secret branding consult tip: To encourage people to read the campaign in its entirety, break up your newsletter into sections. We talked about establishing a layout last week – this not only makes it easier for you to create and curate content, but it also establishes expectations, trust and “scanability” for your audience.
Your Bad Ass Content Side Note:
Speaking of type of content, I’ve been asked by multiple clients if they should include more pictures or words in their newsletters. Simply put, it depends.
Both formats of content can provide your readership with added value. Sometimes a picture says more – and reflect themes, feelings and messages – better than any words ever could. Hence the proliferation of social platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and the integration of picture based content on Facebook and Twitter. EVERYONE likes a good photo or clever graphic.
That being said, what one person prefers will vary from another. I like simple, straightforward newsletters for sure. I receive Pat Flynn’s as well as Chris Brogan’s and Rob Hatch’s and they’re always simple text emails and toats awesome. But I incorporate a lot of pictures in my She Eats newsletter because I dig that too.
It’s really up to you as to whether you want to include pictures or no pictures. The key is in the added value you provide your audience with and the engagement you receive as a result. How you choose to do that is entirely up to you.
2. Other people. And their bad ass content.
Again, this is all about giving your audience added value that they won’t find anywhere else.
Think about industry leaders, up and comers and friends, peers or other people who might inspire or be relevant to your audience. Create a “Featured” section in your newsletter to share one specific person or article or whatever feels right to you and that your audience might be interested in. Added value? I think so.
Super awesome secret branding consult tip: When you share other people’s content – in the newsletter or anywhere else – let them know you’ve done so. Not with a “Hey! Check out my XYZ” (because that’s rude) but with a simple, thoughtful and personalized thank you email. Not only will this let them know that you exist, but it also fosters sharing and loyalty from them to you. And sharing and loyalty are the first 2 principles of generating new followers, getting more comments and making more sales.
3. Some kind of “call to action” invitation.
I know a lot of marketers say you should litter each and every area of your newsletter with calls to action. I say bullshit. Include one or two specific invites to do something (aka a call to action) and leave it at that. With newsletters, what you really want to do – what really sells and makes for an engaging and successful email campaign – is to give give give give give. Stop taking. Start giving. And then, when you’ve given all you can possibly give, ask for something small in return. A reply. A social share. A question. Something that doesn’t take a lot of work on the part of the subscriber but does prompt them to do something.
You only get what you ask for in this life, and if you ask too much, people start to feel resentful. Be specific and make it count.
4. Social sharing buttons and forward & your custom branded social icons.
Obviously. Do we really need to go over this at this point in the game?
Key take away: People won’t go out of their way to share your content or find you. But if you make it easy for them to do so, they’ll do it.
5. (Un)Subscribe information.
People sign up for a lot of shit. I do it. I’m sure you do too. Which is why it’s so super important to include in the footer:
- Specifically where they signed up (ie your website) and why;
- An unsubscribe button.
Nobody wants to get unsubscribers… But it happens. Give them a reminder about how they came to receive your newsletter in the first place and an easy way to stop it, and you’re less likely to get spam filtered or run into complaints.
5 Things not to put in a newsletter:
1. Sales pitches. Unless they’re really bloody amazing.
And even then, sparingly. I’m kind of beating this to death, but a newsletter is not a sales tool like a print ad or TV commercial is. It’s softer than that – more genuine, more authentic, more about news – not ads.
Can you imagine how you’d feel if you invited someone over for a box of wine and all they ever talked about was the next latest and greatest tool, service or program they ponzied up in? You’d likely stop inviting them for boxed wine. The same is true online. If you ask and take and ask and take without giving them a reason to trust you first, you’ll very quickly become the old slimy used-car salesman guy.
There’s nothing wrong with sharing your promotions or offering subscribers a special discount or incentive for being so, but don’t do it regularly, make sure it’s really worth their while and of course, ensure – and explain why – it’s really something of value for them.
In essence, make it about them, not about you.
“Invest in your community & they’ll invest in you”
Click to tweet!
2. Pop ups. They’re fucking annoying.
I don’t think you can actually put pop ups in your newsletters themselves, but you CAN put them on your website. Get rid of them. There’s nothing more annoying than when I click onto an article I think will be of interest to me and then the person who wrote it interrupts their content – and my online vibe – with a fucking pop up. 9 times out of 10, I click away.
There are plenty of online conversion tools to guide people to sign up for your website that don’t demand something from me before I’ve had an opportunity to fall in love with your content and great brilliance.
Even the original creator of the pop admits it’s a mistake. And has apologized.
Super incredible & valuable social, blog and life tip: Never – ever – ask for something without giving back first. This is true for sharing your blog posts, your newest seminar and/or your amazing new product line. Nobody cares. Invest in your community and they will invest in you.
POPUPS REVISED: A year ago I equated pop ups with the internet anti-christ. I may have been a teensy bit overzealous. In fact, you may or may not have noticed, I’ve since employed a few very non-invasive pop ups around here. Pop ups are not terrible. But please please PLEASE make sure they’re timed in ways that give people an opportunity to read your content before you inundate them with requests to sign up AND that they’re easily click off-able on mobile. There’s nothing worse than getting a pop up on a cell phone or tablet and not being able to get out. It makes your readers feel like this guy.
3. People who haven’t opted in.
Again, this falls into the rude, interrupting camp. We don’t have to dig too deep into this one. It’s illegal. It’s wrong. And it’s simply poor taste. You’re better than that. Take time to grow your list organically and honestly and you’ll see much more success (and end up in way more in-boxes) than if you fake it.
Don’t be that person.
4. Porn. Unless that’s your industry. And then definitely include some of that.
5. Speling and gramar mystakes or poor, sentence, structure;
If I had a penny for every time I read content where the person didn’t even bother to spell check or re-read their post… I’d have a shit ton of copper and be dead broke; The Canadian penny has been retired. But the point is, it happens. And often. One of the most important ways to show your audience that you care about them, is to speak eloquently. And because we can’t actually speak through our computer screens in a newsletter, what you type becomes incredibly important.
Create. Curate. Write. Edit. ….Walk away…. Come back, read it aloud, edit once more and then – and only then – send.
Next week in our 4 week series on starting a newsletter that doesn’t suck, how to get more sign ups, responses and return on your newsletter. I’ll also be including a free downloadable so you can start moving on this and get everything up, running and truly spectacular (kinda like you!) within the next couple of weeks. Savvy?
- Week 1: Why You Should Start A Newsletter that Doesn’t Suck.
- Week 2: How to Create A Newsletter that Doesn’t Suck.
- Week 3: You’re reading it, duh.
- NEXT: Tuesday, August 26: How to Get More Sign Ups, Responses & Return on Your Newsletter (including a free downloadable to get you moving on all this shit).
What do you put in a newsletter? What do you NOT put in one? What aren’t you sure of? Did I miss anything? What’s the scariest thing about starting your newsletter? The most exciting?