A regular newsletter can be a powerful tool in the hands of a business. When done properly, it will help you keep in touch with customers, increase your sales, and even boost customer loyalty and brand awareness. Unfortunately, many companies approach their newsletter content in an almost random fashion, with little thought to the overall marketing strategy or continuity from one newsletter to the next.
An effective newsletter – that is, one that accomplishes the goals you have in mind – has several distinct characteristics, including:
Clean and appealing design
There is one word that should sum up your approach to your newsletter design: readability.
If the layout is confusing or sloppy, your readers are just going to move on. Likewise, if you’re using overpowering colors, animated elements, or other distracting design components you’re really shooing away your readers.
The design should be clean and consistent throughout. Try to stick to no more than two colors in your newsletter. Choose an appealing and professional font, using no more than two font styles in the newsletter. Apply principles of good color choice and screen readability, as well.
Clean and appealing design
Eye catching photos. Your photos need to be well done. They need to match the content of your newsletter, and they need to be attractive.
You may even consider bringing in a professional photographer for these, especially if you’re including product pictures or if you’re providing pictures of work that you’ve done for someone else. Avoid placing a background picture on your newsletter at all costs; it is simply distracting and will make the text of the newsletter harder to read.
A strong title and dynamic headlines
When someone receives a newsletter – whether it’s via email or in physical form – they spend less than five seconds deciding whether or not to read it further. The headline is the first thing that has the potential to draw them in. In the case of an email newsletter, many users won’t even open the email if the subject line isn’t interesting or strong enough. Make the headline catchy, succinct, interesting, and leaving the reader interested enough to look further. The headline should be comprised of no more than five words.
A newsletter that’s difficult to understand or that’s riddled with spelling or grammatical mistakes will not accomplish your goals. Every line in your newsletter needs to be carefully crafted. Whether you’re talking about a “how-to” article in the newsletter or whether you’re talking about an advertisement blurb, every word must be chosen carefully. If you aren’t up to speed on how to create this kind of content, consider hiring someone to create it for you.
A newsletter that is nothing but margin-to-margin text is simply difficult to read, at best. Leave some white space in between your various features, entries, pictures, and other components of your newsletter. White space is especially important in electronic newsletters, as your newsletter layout should in some ways mimic web layouts.
A newsletter should have something that the reader can take away and put to use, even if they don’t buy something. That might be a “how-to,” or it might be information about a product or a problem. Give the reader something they can use immediately and you provide a benefit for having read the newsletter. This also helps to establish or increase your company’s authority.
Sales letters are a valid form of marketing. However, a newsletter is not a sales letter. They serve very different purposes. Your intention in producing a newsletter isn’t solely to convince the reader to buy something; in a sales letter, it is.
If someone opens your newsletter thinking they’re going to get something useful or informative and instead gets a pitch, they’re likely to not open your next newsletter and will probably unsubscribe, as well. You should have no more than one advertisement or link blurb for every two to three features in your newsletter.
A reason to share
Newsletters are meant to be shared. Providing an attractive newsletter with useful and relevant information will almost always result in a growing newsletter subscriber list.
Creating an effective newsletter is as much an art as it is a science. When you combine all of the right ingredients in the right fashion, you have a recipe for success. If you leave out an ingredient, or put in too much of one and not enough of another, the results won’t be nearly as positive.
Make sure your newsletters include all eight of these features, every time.
Image Credit: Apexproduction