Lots of content marketers struggle with producing a high-quality newsletter, and they often ask themselves some common questions: Am I doing this right? Should it be taking this long? What should I write about?
For any good newsletter, the key is to quickly find and deliver useful content that your audience will love. The days of boring newsletters with regurgitated business information are over. Now, it’s all about engaging your audience in a meaningful way beyond traditional advertising. Newsletters provide a perfect opportunity for content marketers to get their message out.
Wait, I thought social sites were the best for content campaigns?
We’re not here to pick a fight with the socials, but it’s important to note some of the amazing advantages of email:
- Email is here to stay. Facebook’s rise has been well documented, but so has the fabulous crash into obscurity of other “sure things,” such as AOL, Friendster, and MySpace. Email has consistently been the primary form of communication for most internet users since it all started, and it’s not going anywhere.
- Email lets you play by your own rules. Social networks are filled with distractions; newsletters give you the chance to create a unique environment where you control the conversation.
So, how do I write a great newsletter?
Every business is different and has unique content demands, but there are some basic guidelines you should follow to help ensure a successful campaign.
- It shouldn’t take too long to develop. Newsletters should take minutes, not hours, to
create. It’s a waste of your time to spend an afternoon fiddling around trying to create a perfect newsletter — it will never happen. Choose a topic or a problem that your audience is interested in, and get going. Remember, the collective attention span of internet users is always declining, so you don’t need to prepare a novel. Get in, get out, and get on with your other work.
- Don’t write all the content yourself. 2012 is officially the year of curation, and content marketers should be incorporating this in their efforts. We’ve reached a point where there is an excess of quality content that is available for free on pretty much any topic imaginable. Provide value to your audience by helping them sort through the clutter and delivering best-of-breed content they will find useful.Some of my favorite sources for information are Google Reader, AllTop, Google News and Digg. Save yourself some time and leverage these resources. Not only does this cut down on your workload, it will supplement your newsletter’s message and enrich the overall user experience.Excerpting a few sentences and linking to the original article is considered fair use so you don’t have to worry about copyright infringement. Here is an example of how this works:
If you plan to re-publish an entire article, then you will need permission from the
author/publisher. It’s also never a bad idea to let the original author/publisher know they
are being featured in your newsletter, even if you’re only using an excerpt.
- Don’t waste time formatting. A common problem with newsletters is that they often don’t come out like they should. You spend a bunch of time customizing a template, choosing the perfect fonts and colors, adding pictures, and still have it look like a jumbled mess when it hits the inbox. This usually means that your newsletter template is broken due to a coding error (a common occurrence), your email provider’s software is damaged or there could be an issue with the recipient’s email client (less likely).
A final thought
Don’t get hung up on what to write or think that you don’t have time to do this. Try curating. You probably have more knowledge in your area of expertise than you realize. Put your knowledge into action by directing your audience to good content; it’s good for your brand and the bottom line.