5 things to remember when writing email newsletters

Nobody wants more emails – but done properly, they really work

For B2B content marketers, email newsletters are still the most popular way of communicating reliably with your audience.

Tools such as TinyLetter and MailChimp mean creating a compelling newsletter is easier, cheaper and more accessible than ever.

So how do you make yours stand out from the crowd, and avoid that dreaded Unsubscribe button? Here are five things to remember:

It goes straight to your audience’s inbox

A well-written and engaging newsletter is a treat to receive. A boring, poorly constructed newsletter simply gets ignored. And your content is going to come under far more scrutiny when it’s taking up precious inbox space.

This is a gift and a curse. On the plus side, it means your readers don’t have to check your blog, website or social media stream to read all the great content you’ve got to share.

On the downside, there are no second chances – you can’t edit a sent email. It’s out there in the world forever, spelling mistakes, factual errors, errant commas et al. Here’s where that all-important sub-editor will become a necessity.

Start sensibly

As tempting as it is to send out an all-singing, all-dancing, daily-whirlwind-of-fun email newsletter, let’s all keep our sensible hats on for the time being.

Focus on monthly – at least to start with. A nice surprise on a monthly basis will be better to start off with than daily reminders that you haven’t found your feet yet.

Try not to be too ambitious in the beginning. Set yourself a standard that you can maintain. Once you’ve established what works for your audience with A-B testing, and you’ve got the capacity to expand, that’s the time to bring out the bells and whistles.

Directness is key

Unlike your website or social media posts, you’re talking to a select group of people who have chosen to subscribe to your email. They’ve made a decision to hear more from a brand they are interested in.

So speak directly to them. You’re building a relationship – think about it as if you’re writing a letter to a friend. Although a formal tone can be more appropriate for your web content – where anyone can find it – the best email newsletters are often personable and friendly and use a more casual tone.

If you’re sharing content that’s already hosted on your website, open with a note from the editor tying the pieces together, or an exclusive piece of content they won’t find on your main site.

You need to trust that your audience wants to hear from you, and your audience trusts you not to spam them with a generic email.

Take. Your. Time

The content isn’t what’s going to take the most time; it’ll be the fiddly bits. Before hitting the big red send button, make sure all the links work, the images are of high quality and that your template works for different browsers and email providers.

Formally launching your newsletter will take weeks of preparation and testing. Estimate how long you’ll need, and then double it.

Once you’ve finalised your newsletter, leave it for a day. Go and think about something else for 24 hours, then come back and check it again.

It’s always better to send a newsletter late than to send it out in bad shape.

Get the message out

Everything is going swimmingly – but no one is signed up to your brilliant email, and it’s hard to do A-B testing with no audience.

If you’ve run an email campaign before, send everyone on that list a link to your sign-up page and a brief rundown of what the newsletter will contain and how often you’ll be sending it out.

Include the sign-up link in your social media bios, request to add it to the email signature of everyone in your company and consider hosting the link in a number of locations on your website.

If your email is specific, interesting and useful to your audience, they’ll do most of the legwork of getting new subscribers for you. Great emails get forwarded to friends and colleagues, and before you know it you’ll be featured on our next list of the best email newsletters.

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