Newsletters: Are you doing them right?

Newsletter, Email, Technical Gypsy, Newsletters, Mailchimp, Aweber, Office Autopilot, OAP, Ontraport, SendPepperWoah! I just came to the realization that I have helped my clients send over a million newsletters. (Yippeeee) This morning I was reading an article about how we often evolve into experts without realizing it and I decided to do a little math. As soon as I calculated each client going back 5 years I was completely floored. No wonder I have such a strong opinion as to what they should, and should not be, and what works.

In case you are confused as to what a newsletter is, it is a formal way for you to share information to your audience via email. You may remember the old school way that people sent out newsletters via snail mail or attachments on emails. Thankfully technology has evolved and we are lucky to have so many awesome tools at our disposal. Some of the top tools for sending newsletters include Mailchimp, AWeber, and Send Pepper.

A newsletter is a very functional way to get your information out to your audience but it's not something you want to just throw together. There are several types of newsletters, and I'm going to at least cover three of those options today.

First up is the Ultimate Sales Newsletter, these are usually tied to an online retail shop and contain their latest inventory or specials. They are generally not very wordy but have lots of pictures. Think online retailers like Twice or Zulily. Common sense tells you it's OK to have tons of photos and make it more like a catalog. It just seems to work.

Second up is what I call the Easy To Share Newsletter, it is usually part of a small business or blog and focuses on being more of a 'one article' type of thing. It's usually very focused or a clone of a blog post from the persons website. These are great, if done correctly. Keep them simple and your readers will love you for it.

Third up is the one I want you to pay attention to, it's called the Trash Newsletter because it goes right into the trash or never gets read. It's a newsletter that has no real focus, and seems to be all over the place. These are the kind you most definitely want to avoid. They complete lose your readers, they sound self absorbed and they waste your time and money. So how do you identify which of these categories yours falls into, well here is my simple test to figure that out.

Does your newsletter?

  • Send a confusing message by jumping all over the place? Is there any cohesion?
  • Lack value? It needs to contain at least ONE THING that will blow your clients mind.
  • Focus on you? Discussing 'mostly' what you are up to and mentions you more than the customer? Does it feel more like a personal bio than a product of value?

If you answered YES to any of these things, you need to revisit your newsletter strategy. You see, you don't want to send a newsletter just because you were bored or you were afraid your list will forget you. I mean, yes, you don't want your list to forget you obviously but the easiest way for them to do just that is for your newsletter to be pointless.

[Tweet "Newsletters need to have a purpose, so be sure your purpose and direction are in alignment."]

So do you want your newsletter to be read by your list? Well besides being sure that your design is on point, the best way to do that is to give an immense amount of value to your readers. Put yourself in their shoes, what do they want from you most? Now I can't tell you what to do here, you know your target audience and what they come to you for, but what I can do is give you is a short list to help you along your merry way.

Top 5 things every newsletter should have:

  1. A killer design that draws your readers attention. A photo or two is great for share type newsletters. It should be ON BRAND or at least contain the same colors each time. Here are a bunch of ideas from MailChimp.
  2. A phenomenal subject line, that isn't too spammy. Seriously no words like free, singles, income and other things that will land you in the spam bin. Be original! Remember that the best subject lines actually describe what's inside an email. The worst type of subject lines are the ones that try to sell what's inside the email.
  3. Valuable content. As in valuable to your reader, not to you. What do they feign for? What do they want from you? What I say is give them a little taste, a preview of your behind the curtain self. In other words, lead them on, entice them, in a good way of course. Enough with the boring newsletters already. No one wants to know what you are up to, you aren't writing a newsletter biography. They want to know where you draw your creativity from, and how they can replicate your 'thing' and turn it into their 'thing'. ( or buy your 'thing' )
  4. A call to action that makes sense. What do you want them to do? Buy, Read, Share etc. I see so many newsletters go out that are just ramblings and never really try to persuade the reader to do anything, including READING the damn thing. If you don't include one you might as well say 'Don't read me, throw me in the trash.'
  5. A path to your destination of choice and don't overdo it. No need to have 15 sections in your newsletter. Newsletters are meant to be snippets of you that lead them to bigger pieces of you. Whether that is your blog, your website, your Facebook page, your sales page (continuing the funnel) or to your grandmas house - wherever. Newsletters need to have a purpose, so be sure your purpose and the direction of your newsletter are in alignment.

So what about you? Have you been paying enough attention to your newsletter? If you find yourself needing any help, feel free to post in the comments.

Photo Cred: Photo by Gajam/Flickr