In a previous article, How To Engage Your Newsletter Readers , we went over important factors to consider when you want to keep the people on your hard-earned mailing lists. In this installment, we’ll share 5 of the basic bits of information you can share with them.
Aside from the worry about the time you need to invest in setting up and creating engaging content for your newsletter, even if you think you’re gong to run out of things to share, there are very basic (some may say essential) subjects you can stick to that can help you greatly in keeping your readers reading, and save you work in plotting out what to say.
If you only share information that helps them, the scheduling can be adjusted to whenever you have useful information, like software updates, special offers and ‘Coming Soon’ events. You don’t need to flood your mailing list with updates on everything you’re doing (you can use Twitter for that) and there’s less pressure on keeping to a hard schedule of ‘publication’.
You don’t need to include all the relevant data in your newsletter. You can show a brief summation of the hot issues, and then include a link to the complete article on your website. Result? A shorter, easier-to-read newsletter and more visits to your site.
Remember: Give them what they want, what’s useful, what’s entertaining — in that order.
Your first goal should be to offer useful or interesting information. Your second aim should be to keep it short. Remember. people’s attention spans are shorter today; they want relevant information they can skim quickly and then discard after use.
Spend some time thinking about the best way your information should be presented. You need a format that will be easy to produce. Any one of the following five ideas will make your job easier. You can pick and combine any of the 5 basic elements below to provide the structure of your newsletter. You can also just pick 1 to flesh out and include links to other news, or use 2 or 3 in very brief summaries…there are may ways you can combine and present them so you can avoid getting stale.
1. Tip of the Week
This one speaks for itself. Give yourself an hour with a pad of paper, set the clock, and then think about where you want to go with your business. You want to grow your customer base? How can you do that? What do your customers need, what can you do to help them grow–and go–with you? Jot down your thoughts —make a mind-map.
You can easily brainstorm enough content for months of newsletters. Depending on the frequency you settle on, you can divide the number of newsletters per month and plot them out accordingly. Breaking the process down this way makes it easier, and one way to organize the tip is to explain the problem, maybe give an example, and then offer the tip which will solve it.
2. Top Ten (or 5…) List of ____
This is a time-proven format, and easy to come up with. Just be sure to keep it short – just offer a couple of sentences for each tip, not half a page, because you’re already offering an entire list of them.
3. Three Ways to…
It can be a bit of a challenge sometimes to make a list of ten ways to do things, whereas just three ideas is a breeze. The good thing about a 3 part list is that you can flesh out three ideas in more detail. Alternatively, you can switch the “Top 10 (or 5) ” format with this to keep from boring your readers.
4. Before and After
Like the ‘Tip of the Week’ (in that you present an issue and then provide a resolution) the ‘before and after’ approach really fits case studies, which your readers can relate to better than a dry, hypothetical situation. You can ask for ‘before and after’ examples from readers who are DIY’ers, and then post the main article about it on your website, giving your readers a link to it in you newsletter.
Side note: This is also an excellent chance to actively create a better relationship with your customers and establish even more credibility for your know-how — you can post a link to a “Reader’s Mailbag” issue where you answer their questions.
Lots of people love checklists — ticking off items you’ve accomplished gives you a high like getting a gold star in kindergarten…cool, yeah? There’s nothing like a checklist to make sure you don’t forget a crucial step, which is specially reassuring for amateurs, and they save a lot of time. Start of with a brief introduction, then follow with the checklist, finishing with a few final tips.
Bonus, idea-generating advice: set up an email address just for newsletter sign-ups. Schedule some time to research sites related to your own interests or business, and sign up for their free newsletters. Check your newsletter email to see how the other guys use do their layout and articles. See what you like or don’t like about them, and come up with your own ideas about how your newsletter can be improved.
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