If you decide to use a newsletter to distribute content you’ll also find you have at your fingertips a great customer retention tool. Appearing in your customer’s actual mailbox or in their email inbox on a consistent basis helps you build that all important know, like and trust factor even more.
The first question you have to answer though is, which mailbox are you going into? Yes, that old physical vs. digital debate that we discussed in the Key Concepts section earlier in the book.
Both physical and email newsletters remain popular devices for increasing customer retention and for the sharing of content with your list.
For an email newsletter though there are several things you can do to help your newsletter be more easily consumed by your audience.
First, be sure to use a familiar “From” name for each issue of your newsletter you send out. If people don’t recognize who an email is coming from they aren’t likely to open it.
Next, be sure you take full advantage of your subject line. Avoid boring subject lines like “July Newsletter”. You need to tease them to begin reading the actual newsletter, so employ some creative copywriting to drive people inside.
Don’t have the first words your subscribers see be “Not Displaying Correctly?” Your newsletter isn’t about how to view emails in your browser.
Bite Sized Chunks
Be sure to break your newsletter into bitesized chunks. People tend to skim over an email looking for items of interest so writing a text-heavy email newsletter isn’t the approach that will usually work best.
Break up your text with other elements. The HTML vs. text discussion from the chapter on Email series is entirely relevant here.
For email newsletters consider segmenting your list and sending different content to your subscribers using dynamic content based on their criteria.
Personalize Your Newsletter
A more personalized newsletter is far more likely to be consumed According to CampaignMonitor.com, the average time spent reading a newsletter after opening it is just 51 seconds.
Since you’ve got such a short attention span on average that means you need to visually engage the reader with images and visuals since the brain processes visuals thousands times faster than straight text.
Be sure that you use benefit-focused headlines and body copy for all your content. Remember, people skim—so you need to be able to write those compelling headlines to get them to read on into your body copy.
Just like a book—if a block of text looks too overwhelming to read people likely won’t read it.
Use Buttons For “Call To Action”
If your content has a call to action at the end you can do this with a text link or a button. Buttons usually get better click throughs because they stand out more than text links.
You have to decide what mix of content vs. sales you might have in a newsletter.
Whether your newsletter is an email newsletter or a physical newsletter be sure to mix things up a bit. Don’t necessarily include article after article after article.
Mix It Up
Mix in some entertainment pieces or fun facts. It’s okay to have some white space within a newsletter to improve readability and give the eye a break.
We talked early about the using your subject lines effectively to entice people into your email newsletter. While you don’t have an email subject line if you’re doing a physical newsletter you do still have the issue of getting them ready to open your envelope, if your newsletter is mailed in an envelope.
The well-known information marketing experts GKIC utilize a clear envelope in which to mail their No B.S. Marketing Letter.
Armand Morin mails his monthly Traces magazine to Marketing University members in a 9” x 12” white envelope with a large sticker that is a duplicate of the magazine front cover on the front of the envelope.
Both ways can be effective.
Stand Alone Mailing Piece?
Others will say to just make your newsletter a stand alone mailer. We’re not big fans of mailing newsletters without an envelope ourselves although you can do this. The postal service usually requires one or more tabs to make sure the magazine stays closed and doesn’t get caught up in their sorting equipment.
We receive several newsletters that come tabbed and, invariably, they either arrive already somewhat damaged or you end up tearing pages or damaging the newsletter yourself in some way when you try to open it up.
We feel this detracts from the professional appearance you want if you’re going to the time and expense of sending out a newsletter.
While full color newsletters are certainly more eye popping than black and white newsletter it is considerably more expensive to print a color newsletter.
You’ll have to decide if the additional costs are justified yourself. Whether it’s color or black and white the elements we mentioned about white space and readability apply equally to either format.
Your newsletter should be easy on the eyes and you definitely want to avoid the overwhelm factor by trying to back too much text into too small of an area.