Regardless of your profession, newsletters are the one thing we all have in common.
You may have seen them in your workplace. You may have seen them in your inbox – electronic or mailed. They may be designed for an internal audience. They may be designed for current and potential customers.
Some newsletters make us take a second glance – while some find their home quickly in the trash can.
When you’re the person responsible for producing the newsletter, you have a very important job. You will determine whether your audience takes times to read your content or if they use it as the next lining in their bird’s cage.
You might be thinking, “But how do I determine that? I don’t have any control over what our customers/employees/stakeholders do once the newsletter arrives in mailbox!”
While you’re correct, this is a double-edged sword. What you do in the development and production stages will determine how your newsletter is received – whether you realize it or not. So to help ensure your newsletter gets some table time, we’ve compiled the five most important things to keep in mind when you’re developing your next newsletter.
Make Sure Your Content is Engaging and Interesting
This is critical. If your audience isn’t interested in your content, they aren’t going to read it. Make sure the content you choose to include serves a purpose. Ask yourself: Why will my audience care about this? What do they need to know? Is this repetitive, uninteresting or inaccurate? The answers to these will typically give you a pretty good gut check on the content in question. Finally, make sure your content has been edited and is clear and concise. Do as much as you can to ensure your readers don’t get distracted by errors and typos (spoiler alert: ABC spell check and several sets of eyes can help with this).
Visual and Engaging Elements
People like pictures. There are not many things more overwhelming than receiving an eight-page newsletter filled with words, and only minimal visuals. This leaves your audience wondering where to start – and thinking it’s a chore to read your content. You want them to feel like they can skim through the pages and find what’s applicable to them – not as if they will need to schedule an hour sit-down.
Shout out to all of my designers out there. If you’ve ever worked closely with a graphic designer, you’ll hear them talk about “white space” – a lot. White space is the area on a page that is blank, allowing the reader to have some room to breath and to see breaks in content and visuals. Providing white space helps readers feel less overwhelmed. My rule of thumb? Just because the space is there does not mean it should be filled. Let your newsletter – and your audience – breathe.
Other Ways to Connect
When you think about the purpose of a newsletter, it’s to get information out to your audience. With that said, most newsletters run on a schedule that doesn’t allow you to include all the content that might be beneficial or comes up unexpectedly. Additionally, newsletters help to build brand, which is often the goal of other channels your company may be using to reach consumers. This is a fantastic place to cross-promote your company resources. Are you on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Want people to like and follow you there? Putting the social icons and your handle somewhere appropriate in your newsletter allows your audience to understand additional ways you can connect.
Call to Action
This is a big one. This section is when you take a step back and think about what you want people to do after reading your newsletter. Are you trying to secure donations for a campaign? Are you aiming to get individuals to participate in an event? Regardless of your goal, your newsletter should contain a call to action. Examples of these include a sign-up link, a mailing address for a donation, instructions for contacting an individual for additional information, etc.
Put these five items into practice for your next newsletter, and you’ll likely find you are reaching your audience in a much more effective and efficient manner, without even changing the channel.