Ten Knows Equal One Big Yes: How To Create A Winning Newsletter
1. KNOW WHAT IT IS. A newsletter is a vehicle designed to deliver news and pertinent information to an audience. Not unlike a newspaper, magazine or online information resource, it should be viewed as a serious and important media outlet by both its readers and its creators.
2. KNOW WHAT IT IS NOT. A newsletter is not an advertisement masquerading as a publication. In too many cases, the format is seriously misused for blatant and unapologetic promotional purposes. After all, the word "news" is part of "newsletter" and producing a newsletter which is lacking anything even vaguely resembling news will result in a severe lack of interest from its intended target audience.
3. KNOW WHAT IT CAN BE. A newsletter may not be an elaborate advertisement, but it can be an effective marketing tool. This is not a case of semantics -newsletters can be highly successful for marketing purposes provided the marketing aspect is subtle. In determining the contents of the newsletter, the news contents should always take priority – there is room for the marketing message within the body of the newsletter.
4. KNOW HOW TO ENGAGE THE READER. The newsletter should be a well-written endeavor, with original articles designed to appeal to the target audience. The articles should be on the short side, compared to newspaper or magazine pieces, and therefore the editorial challenge is to create a work which is succinct and sharp. Likewise, original artwork should be used to give a sense of exclusivity to the newsletter. Using clip art or clearly recognizable stock photos make the newsletter look cheap.
5. KNOW HOW TO FURTHER ENGAGE THE READER. Newsletters should be interactive for two key reasons. First, it encourages the reader to get in touch with the publisher for more information, thus creating a new channel of communications. Second, it gives the reader the chance to initiate a request for specific product or service materials, which in turn triggers the marketing mechanisms. It is clearly beneficial to have the reader ask for materials rather than send the materials out unsolicited.
6. KNOW THE MANNER FOR ENGAGING THE READER. If the newsletter is paper-based, include telephone numbers, URLs or even a detachable pre-stamped postcard for information requests at the back of the newsletter. Never hit the reader with this data upfront. Let the reader go through the body of the newsletter and then make the decision to seek out more information. If this is an e-newsletter, include active URLs for the resources being cited.
7. KNOW WHEN TO REACH YOUR AUDIENCE. Not unlike any other media resource, a newsletter should be published on a clearly defined schedule. It should an expected presence arriving on X date at X time. Newsletters with haphazard delivery schedules will never find a stable audience, since the audience will have no clue when to expect the newsletter and thus will have little enthusiasm when it shows up.
8. KNOW HOW TO GET THE READERS INTO THE ACT. To further encourage interactivity, invite the readership to query the newsletter’s editors/publishers with questions, story ideas, comments or even (if one is daring enough) a contributed article. Many people love to see their names and ideas in print, so encouraging this level of participation will further strengthen the bond between newsletter and readership.
9. KNOW HOW TO MEASURE SUCCESS. For e-newsletters, measuring success is assisted via Net technology designed to track reader response. It is easier relatively easy to keep a running meter on the level of readership for this digital vehicle. With paper-based newsletters, tracking success can be trickier. Including pre-stamped postcards and toll-free numbers could help encourage those away from their computers to make contact, but obviously today almost everything is conducted online and it is not surprising if someone will read an item in a paper newsletter and then surf the Net in search of more information.
10. KNOW HOW TO MAINTAIN AN ACTIVE CIRCULATION BASE. If paper-based newsletters are being returned with stickers announcing it was sent to an inactive address, or if e-newsletters are bounced back for the same reason, immediately determine if a proper updated destination can be located. If not, find the reader’s entry in your database and hit that "Delete" button!