A Blueprint For Newsletter Construction

    by Dave Hughes
    Constructing an effective email newsletter may seem to be an art, but there's a good bit of science involved as well.

    Each article in your newsletter should answer the “Six W's” known to all journalism students...Who, What, Where, When, Why and hoW...about their subject. However, there is one other question you need to answer is “Why should I care?”

    That is the big one.

    The first six won't matter if you don't show your subscribers why the subject is important to them. Don't assume they will figure it out...make it clear. You may be offering an anecdote or tip that could show them how to better accomplish their goals; if so, great! Be sure that you tell them how. Be clear with your message..."Listen to this...it'll help you because __________!"

    As I've said before, promoting your business is perfectly fine in your newsletter, as long as you make sure that's not all that you do. Give your readers useful content with “nothing in it for you”; this will build trust with your readers, increase your credibility and increase the likelihood that a subscriber will become a customer.

    This doesn't mean you shouldn't promote your product or service...far from it! After all, that's one of the purposes of your newsletter. Your promotion can be anything from a full-blown ad to a simple “Let us help” style link to your offer on your website. Just remember, television, radio, magazines and newspapers have content for a reason...their audience comes for the content, which gives those mediums an opportunity to present advertising messages. Make sure that you give subscribers content to come for, or it won't matter how good your marketing message is, because few (if any) will ever see it.

    Also, even though you may not think of a newsletter as interactive, it is (and should be). Give your subscribers the means to request topics and subjects they would like to read about in future newsletters. This will prompt "buy-in" from your readers, as long as you follow through on suggestions. When you answer questions or provide asked-for content, give them credit for the question or idea when possible. This will allow that reader to feel a sense of ownership in your newsletter (and probably result in that issue being forwarded to their friends and coworkers, bringing your message to new eyes), and prompt other readers to do the same thing.

    And don't forget to give subscribers a clear, simple method of unsubscribing. You have to do this to stay compliant with the laws governing email marketing, but it's also the equivalent of a money-back guarantee...if someone knows they can stop receiving your newsletter any time they choose, it makes it easier for them to make the commitment to become a subscriber.

    If your newsletter is useful to them, however, the chance of getting an “unsubscribe” message is small.

    A newsletter should include the following:

    • A welcome and/or thanks for subscribing.
    • A useful article.
    • Your advertising message.
    • Contact information for readers to ask questions or suggest topics they would like to learn more about in a future newsletter, which can lead to an increased readership for your message and loyal subscribers.
    • A simple unsubscribe process.
    Is this all it takes? Not necessarily; each newsletter should be an original outgrowth of your business website, so each one should be different, but this list of elements is a good starting point when creating your newsletter's layout.
    Written by:
    Dave Hughes
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