I have been a digital marketer for over a decade and I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times someone has said: “Great news! I have just launched my newsletter!”
My fellow freelancers freeze at the thought of launching one. My clients ask about SEO, social media posts and digital ads. Newsletters feel so old-school. There is no glory, no quick fixes: just an endless commitment to your audience. Which is why I recommend them.
Serve, not sell
I have just done a quick count through my personal inbox: 85% of them are sales emails, designed to influence, persuade and push me to part with my cash. I usually skim the subject lines and offers before deleting them. The remaining 15% is much more interesting because they want to amuse or educate me. These are the emails I read and keep.
The problem with constantly pushing the sale is that you are training your audience to expect a promotion from you. If you are lucky, you stay in their inbox and get a fleeting 3-second look before being deleted. If you are unlucky, you get filed away to the promotions tab or even end up in junk mail. It’s the internet equivalent of the TV ad (and how often do you fast-forward on those ads, now?).
By contrast, people who bother to write thoughtful, engaging interest, catch my attention. They are actually thinking about me and my needs and fleshing out their presence in my life, as they do so. It’s no longer about the sale, but the person-to-person communication which (ironically)makes me more likely to buy their services.
Unless you are Walmart, Amazon or eBay, this is where your business lives and dies. There’s a million online merchants, consultants and coaches competing with you, just a mouseclick away. The only thing that truly makes your business unique…is you. Why on earth would you hide it?
Getting your newsletter started
The main reason behind newsletter reluctance is the thought of all that extra content you need to find. The truth is, it’s never been easier and you may not need to write much (or even at all!).
- Decide your frequency. Quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily? It’s up to you.
- Decide your format. For example, you can just send a “quote of the day”. Or record a weekly podcast. You can whip up a quick digest of your favourite Medium articles or put together a visual storyboard on Pinterest. It’s up to you, so have some fun!
- Put together a quick content plan. This can be done in under an hour and will keep you on track for writing your newsletter.
— For example, you have decided to send a weekly newsletter. Let’s say that’s 50 pieces of content per year, plus a Christmas and Halloween e-card.
— Pick 5 key topics for your business.
— Next, brainstorm ideas for each of those topics. See what your customers are talking about, check on forums and see what your most popular posts and website pages are. I also recommend trying out Portent or Hubspot’s tools for idea generation. You are aiming for at least 10 per topic, but you are likely to end up with far more.
4. Make a calendar commitment. Schedule a date to write your newsletter. Leave at least a day between writing and sending it: that gives you time to re-read and proof it. I genuinely love writing my own and my client’s newsletters: it’s a weekly slice of creative heaven. Help yourself by putting on your favourite music, reaching for some luxury coffee or just silencing your phone and notifications.
4. Pick an ESP for your newsletter. If you don’t have one already, I recommend MailChimp (free and easy to use for beginners), Klavajo (best e-commerce) or Drip (best for bloggers, consultants and trainers). All three systems have powerful software and easy subscription forms that integrate into your site. You can also create stand-alone subscription pages if you don’t have a website.
5. Don’t wait for perfection. Write it, be passionate, be imperfect. Wait a day, and re-read it (ideally, get someone else to read it too!). Press send.
6. Spread it far and wide. You can repost your newsletter content to your social media accounts and use it as a link on your email signature. Canny bloggers, in particular, can actually build their newsletter content into an ebook, whilst consultants can fold it into online courses.
7. Ask for feedback. This is what separates the great from the good. Ask your customers to respond and take it seriously. A personal message from you is always going to be remembered.
What are you waiting for? Pick up that pen and launch your newsletter!