A monthly newsletter can be a game-changer for your business. Carole Seawert, The Newsletter Scribe, shares her advice on why it’s worth the effort and how to get it right.

12 Ways a newsletter makes you stand out

1. Marks you out as an expert

2. Connects with your clients

3. Introduces you to new prospects

4. Builds your credibility

5. Increases traffic to your website

6. Helps to create trust and loyalty

7. Keeps you in front of your target audience – month after month

8. Communicates your marketing messages

9. Builds your brand and your profile

10. Gives you material you can repurpose (eg for podcasts, videos, e-books etc)

11. Nurtures long-term relationships

12. Helps attract new business leads

If you’ve ever thought about writing a newsletter but dismissed the idea, it might be time to think again. If you’re self-employed or running a business, newsletters are a window into your world for your clients and a really direct way of reaching the people who might need you. After all, how will your clients, past and present, get to know you and find out about how you can help them if you don’t tell them? You may have met someone great in 2015 who was vaguely interested in what you do… what if they need your new services now but don’t even know you offer them?

Ultimately a newsletter is a way of showing off without actually showing off. It’s a really effective way to communicate our range of expertise, boost our credibility, impress people with how great we are to work with and communicate a change in our services or the fact that we are working with a new client. It’s also an excellent way to share the love and give clients we are currently working with some extra publicity.

The problem with newsletters is that many of them don’t get read. You may ignore the steady flurry of missives in your in-box, and you wouldn’t be alone in that. Signing up for free downloads and mini-courses often means consenting to receiving a newsletter, which means we get tons of them. Some are just a bit dull – and life is short.

What makes a newsletter stand out as readable and useful? Carole Seawert, founder of The Newsletter Scribe, says “A good newsletter needs to include things people find useful, informative and helpful”. Tips, insights and step-by-steps are always a good idea. People love stories, so include at least one, especially if they illustrate those fascinating things that people don’t know about your industry and insights that really demonstrate how people have benefited from your product or service. Ultimately your readers want to learn from reading your newsletter. Otherwise why bother?

Getting the tone right and making your newsletter engaging can be a struggle if you’re not a confident writer. “You can do a course to learn how to do this and I’d definitely recommend it if you plan to make newsletters a major part of your marketing. Create a calendar to plan ahead what you’re going to write about. It’s a commitment, but a great way to reach potential clients,” says Carole. Do a newsletter at least monthly. “And outsource it if you find it a real struggle or don’t have time to learn”.

Here is Carole’s advice on what to consider when launching a newsletter:

1. Determine WHY you want to launch an e-newsletter

• to drive traffic to your website
• to become an authority on your subject
• to get new leads
• to raise your profile
• to reach a new audience
• to retain existing clients

Whatever the purpose, be clear on your reason for doing it as it will help steer and guide the content you write.

2. Understand your audience

Who do want to read your newsletter? Have you got a clear picture in your head of your target audience? What do they want to know?
Once you know who you are writing for, you can start to create valuable content they want to find out about. Don’t forget, people want to read stuff that will benefit them – they don’t want to read promotional blurb about your organisation.

3. Choose an email newsletter platform
There are several providers to choose from such as Mailchimp, iContact, Campaign Monitor and AWeber. It’s worth taking some time to review them and work out which will suit you the best.

I switched from Campaign Monitor to Mailchimp recently, mainly because I find Mailchimp easier to find my way around and is packed full of templates, tools and other useful features.
There’s also a free plan option. If you don’t have an in-house designer, it’s advisable to hire someone to design the newsletter header and footer for you, so it’s in keeping with your house style.

4. Keep to your schedule
There is no hard and fast rule as to how often you should issue a newsletter but, once you have decided on a timetable, it’s important to stick to it.
So whether you send out a weekly, a monthly or a quarterly newsletter, make sure you stick to this schedule.

5. Write compelling headlines
The purpose of a headline is to draw people in and interest them in reading the article. It’s a fact that 80% of people never get beyond the headline so it’s important to spend time crafting a compelling title – otherwise the time you spend writing the content of your newsletter will have been wasted.

6. Include engaging photos
Your newsletter articles are far more likely to be read if they are accompanied by colourful and impactful images. If you don’t have a bank of your own photos, there are lots of free image libraries out there such as Unsplash, Pixabay and Pexels. Just be careful to avoid the cheesy ones.

7. Keep to the point and avoid waffle
No-one wants to read really long articles of several thousand words. If you’ve definitely got lots more you want to say, link the story to the full article on your website. If anyone is interested in reading more, they will click on the link.

8. Encourage people to sign up
Include a prominent sign-up button on your website to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter. Don’t forget to invite people to sign up via your social media accounts. And why not include this in your email signature as well? That way, everyone who receives an email from you will know about your newsletter.

9. Include an unsubscribe button
There’s nothing more annoying than deciding that you no longer want to receive a particular e-newsletter, only to find there is no way of unsubscribing. Always include an obvious unsubscribe link for those who no longer wish to hear from you.

10. Learn what works from your stats
Your email marketing provider will make stats available to you, allowing you to see how many people opened the newsletter, where they are located in the world, when they accessed the newsletter, who clicked on which link and so forth. This is valuable information, so take some time to study the analytics your newsletter generates.

With thanks to Carole Seawert. For tips on how to grow your newsletter list and write copy that is guaranteed to get read: The Newsletter Scribe.

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