How to Write an Actionable Email Newsletter
Every business needs an email marketing strategy.
You constantly need to try to grow your subscriber list so you can engage more and more customers.
But what kind of content should you be sending to the people on your email list?
Currently, you may be focusing on coupons and other promotions.
But you can take your email marketing strategy one step further by adding newsletters to your arsenal.
Some of you may already be emailing newsletters to your subscribers.
However, if you’re not writing actionable newsletters, these messages could be doing more harm than good.
Subscribers want to hear from you. That’s why they joined your list.
But they don’t want spam, nonsense, or anything else that wastes their time.
If you’re sending newsletters just because you haven’t contacted your subscribers in a while, it’s not an effective strategy.
Fortunately for you, I’m an expert in this space.
Whether you’ve never sent a newsletter or need help improving your current approach, I can show you how to write newsletters that convert.
It’s all about eliciting specific actions from the recipient.
Here’s what you need to know.
Make sure you’re emailing subscribers who actually want to hear from you
People won’t open your messages if they didn’t sign up for your emails.
That’s why I recommend creating a double opt-in process for new subscribers.
Take a look at how this affects your open rates:
You might have a huge list of subscribers.
But that doesn’t mean anything if they’re not reading your content.
Getting your subscribers to open your message is the first step.
That’s why you need to seed your lists with people genuinely interested in your brand.
I definitely wouldn’t recommend buying subscribers.
Only contact those people who signed up for your newsletter.
How often have you received an unwanted email from a company?
For argument’s sake, let’s pretend this message doesn’t go to your spam folder and you actually open it.
Maybe you’ll even skim through some of the content, which is even more of a stretch if you’re not a subscriber.
Are you going to follow through with whatever action they’re asking you to complete?
I doubt it.
Well, then you can’t expect recipients of your newsletter to follow your instructions if they never opted in to receive it in the first place.
Give your subscribers options when they are signing up.
Here’s a great example from HubSpot:
HubSpot lets their subscribers decide whether they want to receive messages on a daily or weekly basis.
If customers want to hear from you every day, give them what they want.
These people are more engaged with your brand and will be more likely to act in response to your newsletter.
Start with a clear goal in mind
Why are you sending a newsletter?
You should be able to answer this question for each message you send.
With coupons or promotional campaigns, this question is a little bit easier to answer.
But newsletters usually have an underlying message within the content.
Stick to one goal per newsletter.
Including too much information in your message will confuse the reader.
Here are some popular examples of actionable goals:
Here’s a great newsletter from General Assembly:
Right off the bat, it’s clear what the goal of this message is.
They are trying to promote an event in Boston, MA.
The newsletter shows the date of the event and has an option for the recipient to RSVP.
This goal is consistent throughout the entire newsletter.
General Assembly doesn’t try to promote products, get downloads, or drive traffic to their website.
Instead, they continue providing more information about the event.
It’s an effective newsletter.
The message won’t confuse the reader, and the goal is apparent throughout the entire message.
In this case, the action is clear.
They want subscribers to come to their event.
It was successful because they started with a goal.
Don’t overlook the subject line
I see people make this mistake all the time.
They take their time to write awesome content for their newsletter, but then come up with a subject line in 2 seconds.
It ends up being something boring like:
Nobody is going to open that.
As I said before when I talked about only emailing subscribers who want to hear from you, the newsletter is useless if the message doesn’t get opened.
A strong and actionable subject line is arguably more important than the content within your message.
This data shows just how important email subject lines really are:
Based on this information, your newsletter might even get marked as spam before the recipient has a chance to read it.
Come up with a subject line that generates curiosity.
Hint at a topic or question that may get answered if the message gets opened.
Including information about news or recent topics in the subject line is another great way to generate opens for your newsletter.
Make sure your timing is spot on.
Nobody wants to hear about news that broke last week.
About 40% of Americans get their news from online platforms.
If your subject line is highly relevant to something current, your subscribers will want to open it.
Approach your newsletters the same way you approach promotional messages in terms of personalization.
Continuing with my last point, you can even use this tactic in the subject line.
In fact, personalized subject lines increase open rates by 50%.
Clearly, it’s an effective approach.
But don’t stop at the subject line.
You can personalize your newsletter by addressing the recipient by their first name.
Use the first person perspective when writing so your subscribers know exactly from whom the message is.
Your personal email address should be displayed in the sender’s field.
Always sign newsletters with your name.
It will give the message a personalized touch.
But remember, you’re trying to get the recipient to act, e.g., to click.
Recent data shows that personalized newsletters improve both click-through and conversion rates.
Another way to get more engagement through personalized content is by segmenting your email lists.
Not every recipient should get the same newsletter.
As you saw with the HubSpot example earlier, you can segment lists based on delivery frequency.
But you can take this idea one step further and segment the content as well.
For example, let’s say you have a website that sells sporting goods.
Your newsletter could cover various topics based on different sports.
When a subscriber opts in to receive your newsletter, you can have them select which sports they want to hear about.
That way, your newsletters that cover golf or swimming topics won’t get sent to someone who would rather read about snowboarding and mountain biking.
Your subscribers are much more likely to act if they’re interested in the content.
Have a clear call to action (CTA)
Your CTA should align with the goal you set for your newsletter.
If you want subscribers to download something, make sure the CTA directs them accordingly.
Refer back to the example I used earlier with the General Assembly newsletter.
They were promoting an event. Their CTA was a link through which subscribers could RSVP to that event.
Here’s another great example from Litmus:
This newsletter is promoting an email checklist guide.
Rather than including the checklist within the content, they embedded a downloadable link as the CTA.
Just like everything else associated with your name and brand, your newsletters need to be professional.
It’s OK to write in a conversational tone, but I recommend staying away from slang and profanity.
In some circumstances, it could be acceptable, depending on the image of your company. But it’s definitely safer to avoid this approach.
You also need to check your newsletter for spelling and grammar mistakes and typos.
If your newsletter has lots of errors, your subscribers won’t think you care about your company.
Don’t rush through this procedure.
Have an editing process.
You can even run newsletters through an editing software like Grammarly to assist you with this.
Here’s another editing tip.
After I’m done writing something, I read it out loud.
I find it’s easier to catch mistakes or poorly written sentences when I’m speaking as opposed to reading.
Depending on who writes your newsletter, you could even have the content checked by another set of eyes before it gets sent out to your subscribers.
Tell a story
I’ve said before you can increase sales by mastering the art of storytelling.
Apply those storytelling skills to your newsletter.
Stories are a great marketing tactic because they are a source of entertainment.
Nobody wants to read a boring newsletter, so talk about something exciting.
Look at the positive impact storytelling has on conversion rates for B2B and B2C companies:
What kind of story should you tell?
You can tell your own or someone else’s story.
It all depends on your goal and the tone of your newsletter.
As I said earlier, you want your content to be relevant to your subscribers’ needs or current times.
If you have some sort of breaking news to discuss, write an engaging story instead of just stating facts.
This will captivate your audience and increase the chances of eliciting the desired response from them.
Newsletters are a great way for any company to engage and connect with their customers.
For starters, make sure you’re only contacting people who want to hear from you.
But if your message doesn’t have a purpose, your recipients won’t respond in a way you would like them to.
That’s why for every newsletter, set a clear goal before you start writing.
This will keep you on track so the rest of your content, including the CTA, focuses on this goal.
Nobody will read your message if they don’t open it.
Your subject line is just as important as the rest of your newsletter.
Your newsletter should be personalized based on the topic and delivery frequency.
Make sure your newsletter doesn’t have any spelling or grammar issues. It’s OK if you want to be conversational, but keep it professional.
Stories are one of my favorite ways to capture the attention of an audience.
Follow these tips, and you will increase the rate of desired responses from your newsletter subscribers.
How often do you send newsletters to the people on your email lists?
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January 17, 2018 at 10:11AM
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