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What does it take to create an outstanding newsletter everyone will want to read? Here are a few simple steps you might want to consider:
1) Know your audience: this is first because it's most important. Know who you're writing for and who will be reading this. Make sure the information is relevant to them.
2) Go low on promotion: when it comes to promotional copy in a newsletter, I recommend the 95/5% rule: 95% helpful information and 5% sales copy. Trust me on this. I can't tell you how many newsletters I delete that are overly self-promotional. If the newsletter/email campaign is good, it will sell you. Trust me on this one.
3) Content, content, content: make sure the content is good and you've addressed the WIIFM factor (what's in it for me). If you don't ask this, your reader most certainly will. Over deliver on your content, you'll be glad you did.
4) Collaborate: if you're doing a newsletter and you don't think you have the bandwidth to write a whole newsletter yourself then collaborate with a few people who are in your industry but not direct competitors. Our newsletter does this, it's a collaboration of voices and, consequently, it is varied and rich in content.
5) Frequency: watch this one very closely. The general rule of thumb is that the more often you send out your newsletter the shorter it should be. So, if your newsletter goes out weekly, think of offering just a quick tip. If it goes out monthly then it can be longer. The same holds true for general email campaigns.
6) Give your newsletter a "voice". What I mean by this is give your newsletter a personality. You don't want a stale, monotone, unfriendly marketing piece that doesn't speak to your reader, do you? Show your personality, let it shine through. I like to think that our newsletter has a lot of our voice in it. In order to create "voice" you might want to follow some of the same rules that you do when blogging: don't hesitate to share an opinion, viewpoint, stance, advice, whatever. Speak to your reader, not at them.
7) Don't just sit there and read, do something! Make sure that you have a strong call to action in your newsletter, if you have several calls to action even better. Get your reader to do something, engage them in what you're writing, send them to helpful links, offer them bonuses, specials, exclusives. Remember, if they took the time to open and read your newsletter they should get something besides great content. Great links to helpful sites, maybe even a free download, all these things are enticing and will keep your reader coming back for more!
8) Don't sell 'em fluff. Ok, I know I said seven tips but I couldn't help but add a bonus one (see what you get for reading all the way through this article? That's what I mean by over-delivering). Readers want the information and they want it fast, don't use a lot of fluff words or extra (and sometimes useless) content just to puff up your newsletter and make it seem bigger than it is. Give readers the information they want in clear, concise language and then send them on their way.
When it comes to the timing of your newsletter that depends on you and your audience. Our newsletter goes out once every two weeks. We find that to be a good balance: not too much, not too little. But each audience is different so experiment with yours and see what gets readers to open your email.
And finally, get your newsletter edited. This is a big one. Don't put some disclaimer in it saying "it's not edited" because all that says is: you're not professional. I've seen this done and to me, it deters from the message. Also, don't hand email your list unless it's small (less than 100 people) Why? Because your cable or DSL provider might decide that you're spamming people and will cut you off. People who do this will tell you that if you keep it to less than 50 email addresses per message you're fine but I've found that even 20 names in an address line can set some service providers on alert. Trust me it's not worth the hassle.
Effective email campaigns can really help promote your book and your brand. When done right, they can become a critical and very effective piece of your marketing plan. We've had our newsletter for over seven years, in that time we've never placed a single ad for the company or my books, not anywhere. Why? Because I have never believed in ads. Frankly (and with all due respect to advertisement budgets everywhere), ad placement is easy and doesn't always bear the kind of return you want, especially in today's market where consumers are blocking out advertisement. What we're talking about here takes time and effort but if done right, the pay-offs can be enormous.
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