Do you own a membership website? Do you have a business that provides important services to clients? Do you manage a professional, political, charitable or alumni association? Regardless of your website’s core focus, part of your job is to acquire new members, subscribers, or customers while retaining those you already have on board.
These processes of acquisition and retention can involve a plethora of activities. However, the most common and simple task is to craft a regularly published newsletter. And by providing your subscribers an ability to share your newsletters with others, you can acquire even more new subscribers which may convert into paying customers or members.
Newsletters are a critical piece of a company’s marketing strategy.
Getting your members/subscribers to read them, however, is quite another matter. Your members are busy people, and unless they see real value in reading your newsletters, there’s a good chance they may often choose to skip them over. Your job is to make sure that the newsletters are engaging and compelling enough to entice your readers to open and read them.
So, how do you get your newsletter consistently opened and read?
Here are several suggestions that help to add value to your newsletter – enough value to compel subscribers to open and read it.
Know Your Audience
If you truly know your membership audience, then you will know what they want and need with regards to information, entertainment and inspiration. Your newsletter articles should address these requirements. The most compelling article title should be included in your email subject line when that newsletter is mailed. Another tip – word the subject as a question if you can. Questions are often more engaging than statements.
Be a Journalist
It can be helpful to understand how a good article is structured. While good articles typically focus on the “who, what, where, when and how” of the subject, they always begin with an intriguing title. Tthe first few sentences intrigue and pull the reader in even further.
Your articles can also be divided into small segments – usually sub-headings introducing the sections. This makes the article more manageable to skim and read.
There’s also often a creative style about the writing. It’s as much about how something is said as it is about what is said. News websites tend to be rather bland in their writing style. Popular blogs and aggregates, however, tend to show more of a personality to make reading the articles more enjoyable.
If you’re finding creative writing to not be your strong suit, or if you have more pressing tasks to handle, then you can use a writing service like Top Essay Writing or Classy Essay that have journalists on staff who can craft compelling articles for you. You can also hire freelance journalists on sites like Upwork and Fiverr.
Set a Publishing Schedule
There are a number of organizations that send a daily newsletter. Following such a tight schedule typically involves sharing just one short piece of interesting, educational or amusing content. These newsletters are often centered around a single theme (something within a niche, a surprising story, something newsworthy, etc.).
This can be a difficult schedule to maintain, however. Maybe start off with a bi-weekly newsletter schedule and gradually work your way up if you think a more frequent newsletter could be beneficial. For example, consider Upworthy, with a total following of 88 million people. Subscribers open Upworthy’s content because they want that daily dose of “surprise” content. Your audience may be similar.
Newsletters are a great venue to let readers see more of the real you, rather than just what you have to sell. People may subscribe because they like your website content, your blog posts or maybe what you share on social media. But once they are there, they want value and a relationship. Give them that relationship by showing them some personality whether that’s in the topics you choose you choose to share, through the way you write, the memes you include in your newsletter, etc.
And Speaking of Value…
What do you have to offer through your newsletter? Are you giving tidbits of information that your readers can actually use? Are you giving advice that they’ll find valuable? This may mean that you will have to dedicate some time researching and thinking about topics for your audience.
If this is the case, then it may be better to share two short articles of high value than to try to fill a page with irrelevant and/or uninteresting content. Quality over quantity always wins.
Personalize if You Can
Based upon your customers’ or clients’ previous purchasing/ordering behaviors or demonstrated interests, you can segment the one newsletter into multiple, more personalized newsletters. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to survey your subscribers to see what exactly they would like more of.
Stay Focused and Relevant
If, for example, you are a tech-related company, your monthly newsletter might focus on five new tech innovations. If part of your brand image is the support of a specific social cause, what’s new in that arena over the past week or month?
Always be sure that your newsletter remains relevant to your specific industry or niche… After all, that’s probably why your readers subscribed in the first place.
Involve Your Readers
Each newsletter should give your readers the opportunity to respond, to give feedback, to express opinions and to engage in conversation with you and possibly with other subscribers. It’s up to you take the initiative on this. Ask for their input and place value on it by responding to them yourself.
Keep Things Non-Promotional
Your newsletter is not the place to sell your wares. It’s a place to foster an ongoing relationship with customers and interested parties. An exception might be a new product launch. For the most part, however, you want to provide a service to your audience – you want to give them valuable information; brighten their day with an inspirational message; give them advice from respected industry leaders; include a humorous human-interest story (and if it’s related to your niche, all the better); feature a staff member or customer who has used your product in a unique way…
Consider WD-40, for example. It consistently publishes new uses for its single product that are discovered and submitted by customers. This may be difficult if you’re managing a membership website, but you’d be suprised how customers find ways to repurpose products and services..
Use Images – A Lot
People are drawn to images, not words (other than a great headline, of course). The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than words and we can emotionally connect with an image much faster than we can with words. Remember this as you craft your articles and newsletters.
The Bottom Line
You send out a newsletter to your subscribers for a reason – to provide value to your recipients. Your primary task is to find what those subscribers consider valuable and to provide that value in engaging and enjoyable ways. Remember – a newsletter should be about making your readers happy.
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