Newsletters are a popular marketing tool. Done well, they can be incredibly effective. Unfortunately, most people's efforts end up in the circular file before anyone has bothered to read it. Why? Because they committed too many newsletter no no's. If you're the editor-in-chief of your company's newsletter, be mindful to avoid these mistakes. MMG's is hot off the press.
No grand plan: Your newsletter needs to have a vision. Without it, it's just a hodge-podge of articles that has no continuity. It's hard to build reader loyalty without it. Make sure you identify your key audiences and what you're trying to get them to do/know.
Too much ego: Sure, your newsletter is a sales tool. But be careful that you don't toot your own horn to the point of arrogance. Celebrate your product/service's excellence but do it with case studies or client testimonials rather than in the first person.
Not providing value: We live in a "what's in it for me" society. Your newsletter is fighting for your audience's most precious asset – their time. So make it worthwhile. Give them new information or insights so they look forward to receiving your newsletter.
Inconsistency: Hitting deadlines is tough and to let them slide. But, if you promise a quarterly or monthly newsletter, then it needs to come out on time. Every time. What do you think it says about your business if you don't keep your promise on newsletter deadlines?
Lack of interaction: Give your readers a chance to talk back. An e-mail address, a contest, a bounce back card, a URL that solicits feedback. Make it a conversation rather than a monologue.
Newsletters are a lot of work. Make sure all the effort you put into your publication pays off. Avoid these newsletter no no's and you'll have loyal readers for life.
Want to read a little more? Here are some good tips. And a few more.
What newsletter do you always welcome into your e-mail in box? What makes it a must read for you?
Drew, excellent post!
The two most welcome newsletters I receive are: 1). In print, Edwards Graphic Arts (a local commercial printer) does a great job of summarizing news related to paper, printing and direct mail (including postal regulations). It’s a short (1 page, 2 sided) pub, short articles well summarized, and I’ve frequently found good things to blog about. (May I share a link? Here’s a sample of what I mean: http://www.marketingideablog.com/2007/04/20/uspsnews/ )
And 2). Via email, Kitchen Collage of Des Moines is far and away the best one I receive. Each issue is centered around a theme – TONS of helpful and interesting info, a bit of store promotion, etc. And visually attractive too. Just about perfect, IMHO.
Excellent check-list Drew. And I think some of these rules apply to corporate, internal or HR newsletters as well. Also I’m a great fan of the visual insights and eye catching designs of the letter itself (directly linked to zap-time for many!).
If the examples you used were out of your local market, would you still read them?
I think what I am asking is…are they valuable to you because you could actually buy from them, or it is pure content-driven?
I’m curious — is your white paper built from blog material or it is 100% fresh content?
I agree completely. Any newsletter needs to hold up their audience and do right by them. Maybe even more so if it is an internal publication.
Do you have a favorite? What makes it worth your time?
I agree with Janet’s first post. Aesthetics are one of the most important things to me. Of course, looking good isn’t everything. Once I get past a pretty facade, I want to get to the meat of the issue, and hopefully it’s something new. One of my graduate assistantship charges was to distribute a newsletter for another department at the university. I felt awful for the poor people that it was sent to. It lacked a good format and was horribly, horribly boring. Just like a good opening line to a novel, the first paragraph/page of a newsletter should leave me wanting more. At the very least, a newsletter shouldn’t make me throw the next one away before I’ve even scanned it.
I think not providing value would be the number one no-no on the list. Getting a reader’s attention with a newsletter is tough enough, but if you don’t provide value, then it gets tossed before it gets open.
Without a doubt, if a newsletter doesn’t please the eye, the first sentence probably never gets read.
But…content is king. Even a plain text e-newsletter will get read week after week if the content is fresh and relevant.
What’s your opinion on the length of a newsletter?
Is there a newsletter that you always read? What is it that makes it valuable to you?
Have you used a newsletter to grow an online business? What, for you, is the #1 rule not to break?