Even worse, do your newsletters cause readers to scroll by or unsubscribe before your content has a chance to dazzle them?
While your website and blog are the heart of your owned media, your email is the blood system that circulates communications. As your direct line to readers, your email communications must do your marketing’s heavy lifting.
Although many bloggers and marketers use newsletters to showcase recent content, you must provide quality email newsletters to stand out in today’s flooded inboxes.
So don’t squander your email newsletter opportunity!
Don’t take my word for it:
Social media platforms like LinkedIn help and encourage members to create and send email newsletters.
Table of Contents
Email Newsletter Defined
Unlike functional emails (like customer service) and transactional emails (purchase confirmations and related correspondence), email newsletters are pure content.
The goal of email newsletters is to pull readers, prospects, influencers, end-users, customers and others into your content and to guide them along the purchase journey. They support every level of the purchase funnel by building relationships with your audience over time.
Email newsletters warm names into qualified sales leads by:
- Building reader relationships. Remember your goal is to open your communications channel. To this end, be generous with your mentions of influencers, employees and readers.
- Establishing you as a go-to resource (aka: thought leader). Provide information around 1 to 3 core topics.
- Creating on-ramps to other content and products. Guide readers to quality content that supports your thought leadership and sales. But avoid being overtly promotional. Hubspot recommends a 90% useful content and 10% promotional content ratio.
Don’t underestimate your content’s value to your readers. As head of marketing for The Economist’s online division, I argued with executives over this. Some viewed our email newsletters as lowly repurposed content reprinted from the magazine. Yet readers loved and opened our newsletters creating advertising revenues.
Depending on your firm’s use and integration of marketing technology, your email newsletters should allow personalized and dynamic content that’s relevant to your readers’ interests.
Email Newsletter: 3 Examples Worth Your Time
While I graze on a wide variety of marketing and business content, my 3 must-read weekly email newsletters are:
The always erudite Scott Monty publishes his newsletter, Timeless & Timely on Substack. Scott builds his content based on his own weekly content consumption.
Scott’s newsletter stand out. They always have a painting in the public domain at the top and a related quote before he dives into his reading.
Scott lets the ideas marinate before sitting down to write his piece. As a result, they provide deeper insights that bring together diverse points to yield new insights for the reader.
In this letter, Scott quotes Julia Child:
“If you’re going to have a sense of fear of failure, you’re just never going to learn how to cook. Because cooking is, well, lots of it. It’s one failure after another and that’s how you finally learn.”
At the end of the newsletter, Scott concludes:
“Anything we choose to pursue requires us to practice. We will all fail on our journey to excellence. It’s part of what it means to be human.”
Actionable Email Newsletter Lesson
- Add your synthesized insights to give your audience new perspectives. This contributes to making your email newsletter stand out.
Christopher S. Penn is one extremely smart marketer and his weekly, Almost Timely News, should be part of your regular marketing content diet.
Each email newsletter contains Chris’s take on the marketing news of the week. Sometimes he includes useful charts. Beyond providing high quality content, Chris offers his content in video, audio and text formats. (According to his estimates, about a third of his file listens to his content.
Below his weekly article, Chris re-promotes past posts and his company. He also offers a roundup of available jobs. Notice how Chris clearly marks ads with the word “Advertisement”.
In addition, Chris does an amazing job of curating other people’s content and breaks it out by category under the heading, “What I’m Reading: Your Stuff”.
3. National Geographic Newsletter
I love National Geographic’s email newsletter. It stands out in my email inbox since it’s one of very few newsletters unrelated to my marketing and business interests.
But National Geographic has created a place in my regular content consumption due to its amazing photos and sometimes drawings covering diverse stories.
Often, I forward these email newsletters to friends and colleagues who I think will like one of their stories. It’s a great way to stay in touch with my network.
Of interest to marketers is how National Geographic creates branded or paid content. in this issue, they created and included branded content sponsored by the Maine Office of Tourism in their newsletter and on their website. The top of the article and the URL state that the content is paid by The Maine Office of Tourism.
5 Tips To Make Your Email Newsletter Work
Email newsletters are a fill-in-the-blanks writing exercise. The best email newsletters show the creator’s personality and work.
1. Use a consistent human voice
This refers to your brand voice as in a letter written by a real person behind your brand.
Your email newsletter goal:
Talk to readers like a good friend or colleague so click when your newsletter arrives.
If you need help, try recording your message and transcribing if necessary.
It took me years to find my email newsletter voice. At first I was reticent to write in a more personal voice; it felt less professional. But the more personal letters resonate with my readers.
I tell about a recent event or personal story and relate it to marketing with actionable marketing take-aways. I consider these to be my trademark.
2. Offer extra value to readers
This does NOT mean promotion.
Instead curate additional content or spotlight key facts they need.
Or add other content format options such as audio and/or video like Scott Monty and Chris Penn.
3. Set email newsletter design
Develop and use a consistent email structure. This includes the structure of the email newsletter content and related graphic elements.
This doesn’t mean your email content must be boring.
Also include content curation to highlight related quality on your site.
4. Publish email newsletter on a consistent schedule
Think like a publisher to build reader expectations. You want your newsletter to be part of their weekly content diet.
5. Provide easy content on-ramps
Give readers enough information to determine if they want to click through to your other content. Don’t make them think; just act! Where appropriate add links and buttons. Continually test which elements yield the best results to achieve your goals.
Bonus: Optimize email newsletters for mobile experiences
Email Newsletter Conclusion
To maximize the value of your email addresses published your email newsletter on a consistent basis and provide real value to your readers. By helping readers, you’ll deepen relationships with them that will ultimately lead to sales.
Consider your email newsletters an integral element of your content marketing offering.
Use them to provide another way to reach the audience of people interested in your content.
Continually test your email performance against other options. (Think series of A/B tests to find the best performing option.)
If Jay Baer, Gini Dietrich and I think email newsletters are important, don’t you think you should give them a try? It took Moz over 6 months to prove the value of their Whiteboard Fridays with Rand Fishkin.
What content can you offer your audience on a regular basis that they will want to read every time?
To make it easier, consider your email newsletter as a work in progress.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published on July 7, 2017 and was extensively updated and enhanced on May 9, 2022.
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