It’s one thing to learn how to send a newsletter, it’s quite another to learn how to send a newsletter that doesn’t royally suck – and that people will actually read.
How to Send a Newsletter That Doesn’t Suck Tip #1: Don’t Stress the Tech
Sending a company newsletter can feel like learning a foreign language. (Without the trip to Paris.)
Do you go with HTML or Plain text? Images or no images? Autoresponder or Broadcast? Long form or short form? Whitelisting or No whitelisting?
Just remember to take a breath and know that:
…there are hundreds of companies who’ll be happy to take a couple of dollars a month off your hands and let you handle the boring, technology stuff. There’s MailChimp, iContact, Aweber (on the cheap end) and InfusionSoft, 1 Shopping Cart (on the decidedly not cheap side.)
My personal weapon of choice is Aweber – mostly because they’re cheap and easy to use. (Though some complain that their templates aren’t fancy enough.)
But in the end, the only thing you have to do is PICK a lane, send out a bunch of newsletters…and use the provided reports to figure out what worked. (And what didn’t work.)
How to Send a Newsletter That Doesn’t Suck Tip #2: Choose One (Focused) Goal for Your Newsletter
I know this is going to break your heart, but your newsletter subscribers do not SIT at home by their laptop, eagerly waiting for your next email installment. They are busy. They are distracted. And they are probably checking their email in between Candy Crush sessions.
This means the old-style (cram every damn thing that’s going on with your business) newsletter not only won’t get read. (It probably won’t even get opened.)
My personal preference is to have each email/newsletter do one thing. (Share a story, send a coupon, provide a link to a sales page, spotlight your employees.) But this may not ALWAYS be possible. Sometimes you gotta cover quite a bit of ground.
Just do your best to LIMIT the focus and scope of your newsletters. Not only does it help your subscriber engagement, but it also helps you figure out which of your newsletter efforts are giving you enough email bang for your buck.
Which brings us to…
How to Send a Newsletter That Doesn’t Suck Tip #3: Segment Your Audience
Want to know why Groupon won’t be around 5 years from now? (And the reason their earnings have been shrinking steadily every year.)
They could never FIGURE out how to segment their subscribers.
As a subscriber to Groupon, I know I routinely used to get offers for 2-for-1 Italian dinners, Bunjee jumping coupons AND manicure specials. (I’ll let you guess which one I found most relevant.)
And this disconnect in their messages made me MISTRUST everything they sent me. (Which was a shame. Because I always wanted to jump off a bridge with nothing but a elastic band keeping me from imminent death.)
So, no matter what kind of newsletter you are primed to send, do your very email marketing best to segment your LARGE list into smaller chunks who actually WANT what you’re sending.
Say you’re a financial planner. (If so, give me a call…I need help!)
Well you could create a dedicated newsletter around things like:
- College fund planning
- Retirement planning
- Credit repair
And the cool thing is if you use tools like Aweber, you can use a plugin like AW Pro Tools which provides a “smartlink” which you can embed in your emails. (And people who click on it will automatically be added to your SPECIFIC newsletter.)
I know this doesn’t sound earth-shattering. But it is! The more you can have your subscribers self-select the newsletter(s) they want – the more likely you will be to get them to take the action you want.
How to Send a Newsletter That Doesn’t Suck Tip #4: Keep Your Subject Lines Casual
Next chance you get, head over to your inbox and just scan the emails and see which ones jump out at you. Chances are they are the ones that:
- Have lowercase subject lines
- Don’t sound like they’re selling anything
- Are from people you know
Now, I’m sure you think I’m full of crap. That this doesn’t work from a branding standpoint. That your newsletter has to sound “official.” But consider this:
Would you rather open an email with this subject line?
Pool Cleaner Joe Newsletter #3 – 3 Tips for Safe Chlorine Use
Is chlorine hurting your family?
Same wonderful content. But VERY different approaches. (And the human, personal stuff always out-performs the formal business crap.)
Sorry. I meant “stuff.”
How to Send a Newsletter That Doesn’t Suck Tip #5: Share Stories, Not Information
It’s not your fault. We are wired, genetically, to show how people how important we are…and how vital it is that people listen to our message. And so when we start writing, we put on this “official” hat that we think will give us credibility.
But the harder we TRY to convince people, the less they listen to us.
Instead of telling people about this super-cool, whiz-bang bit of awesomeness you’re pitching like:
“Business 101 for Kids is a comprehensive guide to help parents explain the principles of business to their kids. (Click this link to buy!)
…just tell a story.
“There I was last Friday night, watching “Shark Tank” with the family. (My nine-year-old is already planning his first IPO.) When it occurred to me, wouldn’t it be cool if there were a BUSINESS GUIDE for kids? And when I couldn’t find it on Amazon – the ONE thing they don’t have – I decided to embrace my inner entrepreneur…
…and I wrote it myself.”
See how different that is? (And much more emotionally connecting.)
So, no MATTER what the goal of your newsletter. Tell stories, be human and respect the subscriber’s time and energy. (And who knows…you might just create a newsletter so powerful your subscribers actually put down their smartphone, shut down Candy Crush, and eagerly wait for your next email.)