The purpose of a Newsletter
Let’s say for the sake of argument that you open your email on a Thursday morning and you see a newsletter email in your inbox. Now, you know the person or organization that sent it, and after you glance at it for a moment, you discard it and move on with your day. For most of us, this is our entire interaction with a newsletter. Most of us only see them as a higher form of spam. For starters, most small to medium-sized businesses send out newsletters so irregularly that when you see a newsletter from them, you immediately discard it because you don’t associate that business with sending out regular newsletters. Next, and more importantly, the overwhelming majority of newsletters that are distributed by businesses are completely pointless. Typically what happens is that someone either sees another small-business’ newsletter or they think to themselves that it would be a good idea for them to have one for their own business, and they end up populating their newsletter with a bunch of items they carry. Now, there is nothing wrong with having highlighted items in a newsletter, but only having highlighted items is almost an abuse of the newsletter itself.
Format for Newsletters
Now that we have spoken about the need for newsletters, let us now move on to how your newsletters should look. It should be stated that not all newsletters will look the same, and not every newsletter will operate the same way. What we mean is that there are different objectives for newsletters. For example, if you are a mortgage broker, the purpose of your newsletter is most likely going to be trying to sell a property. On the other hand, if you want to promote your business’ website because you make money either by having visitors go to your website or by selling products online, then you will most likely have several links to your website included in your newsletter. So the first thing you should do with your newsletter is establish what exactly it is that you want your newsletter to do.
Now that we have gotten all of that out of the way, let us move onto what your newsletter should include:
First: Have a portion of your newsletter state who you are as a business or organization. You know what you do for a living, and the people you work with know what you do. But for everyone else that exists outside of that bubble (most likely even close friends of yours), they have only a limited knowledge of what exactly it is you do. So the first thing that your newsletter should do is state who you are (briefly), and the main service and/or product you provide.
Second: Your newsletter should include between 1-3 articles in the body of the newsletter (or these articles can be in synopsis form). There are some practical reasons for why this is, but essentially, you want to have something that will keep your readers reading. Let’s say for example that you’re a dentist and you send out your newsletter 2-3 times a month, but every time you send out your newsletter you keep the same information. Do you think it will take long before readers get tired of reading the same thing every time? It should be remembered that in order for a newsletter to work, you will have to give it time. I don’t mean ten years, but it almost always takes several releases before you begin to reap the full benefits of doing a newsletter. In order to keep your subscribers engaged, you have to give them something in which they can become engaged. You don’t have to write a book, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give them some kind of information that will stimulate their minds, even if what you have written is short. The ultimate goal of the article attached in the newsletter is to get people to act. Let’s go back to the dentist analogy. If he were to include in his newsletter a section about the importance of people getting their teeth cleaned, coupled with a coupon for free whitening, what do you think the audience of that newsletter is going to do? Do you suppose that they will be more receptive to getting their teeth cleaned by him? We believe so.
Third: Your newsletter should include a featured product or service. We know that we previously mentioned that a good newsletter shouldn’t be riddled with them, but we never claimed that your newsletter should be devoid of your services or products. Now, you don’t want to overdo it. You should try to limit yourself to one product or service, and leave it at that.
Fourth: Your newsletter can and should include a section about recent news with your company or upcoming events. It might be overdoing it if you decide to have both an upcoming events and a recent news section in the same newsletter (this previous statement does not apply to all businesses). Now, there are exceptions to this rule, but unless your business is in the business of gathering people together at events, you should limit the amount of time you dedicate to non-essential information about your business in your newsletter. You do not want to over-pack your newsletter.
Fifth: This portion of your newsletter is completely up to you to include, but depending upon your industry and if you desire to have a somewhat larger newsletter, you can consider adding what we would refer to as miscellaneous content. What we mean by that statement is that you are invited to add content to your newsletter that you feel your readership would be interested in reading that is not already listed above. We’ll give you an example of what we mean. Let’s say that you manage or write a newsletter for a non-profit organization that primarily helps elderly people. Well, one portion of your newsletter can be entirely dedicated to the people that you have helped. Testimonials can be an element of your newsletter, but it’s not an essential portion. This is largely due to the fact that if you are regularly sending out your newsletter (which is the most important part of having a newsletter), then you are not required to include every time you’ve helped individual people. Another non-essential aspect of your newsletter that you can include (for other businesses it’s pivotal) would be helpful tips or pieces of advice. Again, there is no exact format for this portion of your newsletter. You will most likely to have to figure out what works best for you and your business when it comes to the incorporation of the fifth piece of creating your newsletter.
In conclusion, newsletters are important because they inform people of what it is that you do in a meaningful way that they can understand. There are other forms of advertising (although newsletters cannot be dogmatically viewed as only pieces of advertisement) that tell people that you exist (like coupon magazines), but no other form of advertising allows you to control what people hear about you in a way that tells them who you are.
We have good news for our readers who, upon reading this article, realize that they need a newsletter but don’t want to create it themselves. That good news is that we create and distribute newsletters! We can help our clients craft their newsletter, and we can import contacts for newsletter campaigns.
If you are interested in having Writer Junkie maintain a newsletter subscription readership for you, please contact us at (805) 587-7966 or we can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.