Research shows that the average open rate for email newsletters is about 20%. But that doesn’t mean 20% actually get read. The average click-through rate is only 2-5%.
Newsletters can be snoozy and irrelevant. As a result, they often go untouched or unfinished.
But, if it's done right, a newsletter is a great opportunity to continually build connections with users. It's a way to keep your subscribers in the loop and coming back for more. And it’s cheaper than many other marketing methods.
So, how do you create an email newsletter your subscribers will actually want to read? What will make yours stand out from the others?
Coincidentally, many of the same principles we discussed in our recent post on writing killer welcome emails applies to creating an engaging newsletter.
- Come up with a straightforward and interesting subject line.
- Keep the body of your email simple and engaging.
- Offer incentives and benefits. (In a newsletter, the main benefit is knowledge, but you can also add a call to action, like a free download or an invitation to sign up for a social platform.)
- Use images.
That said, newsletters are a bit different from welcome emails. There are certain elements you'll want to include, such as:
- Recent updates
- Relevant blog articles
- Other info that'll interest your subscribers
And that begs the question: What is interesting to subscribers?
Journalism Rules of Thumb
As a general rule of thumb, you can keep this old journalism adage in mind: “A dog biting a man isn’t news. A man biting a dog is news.”
It's funny, but it says a lot of you think about it!
There are also six practical principles of journalism that can help you create newsletter content that'll interest your readers.
Keep subscribers up to date on things going on in their sphere. If it’s happening in China, it may not be as interesting as if it’s happening twenty miles from home.
But also keep “virtual proximity” in mind. For example, updates to your site are happening right on the screen they’re holding in their hands. It doesn't get much more local than that!
Send your newsletters out on a regular schedule. Something that happened a year ago is probably not timely (though it may be in some cases). Consider a weekly or monthly schedule.
However, if something big happens, let your subscribers know about it right away. It's okay to send out news quickly for the sake of timeliness. Use caution, though. An update to the look of your site is not an urgent matter. A big PR issue definitely is.
Use content that impacts your subscribers directly. For example, a new update to your site or a change in user flow will definitely matter to them.
Keep in mind that you may have to add the impact yourself. For instance, say you just hit a million subscribers. That's awesome, but why should your readers care? Now, if you just hit a million subscribers, and you're celebrating by running a big giveaway, that's impactful.
Are there any important people, movements, or other businesses associated with your site? Did your business recently win an award? Did you get an at-mention in a blog post with really high domain authority? That sort of prominence can add attention-grabbing power to your newsletter.
Use caution with this one. Unless your membership site is overtly political, getting involved in political or social conflicts could do more harm than good.
But if conflict is appropriate for your platform, it can be a big draw for readers. Try including an opinion poll on a hot topic in your newsletter.
6. Human Interest
This is where the whole “man bites dog” thing comes in. If it’s weird, sweet, or sad, it's got human-interest potential.
Good examples include content about:
- Your business helping someone in need
- Customer stories (e.g., a weight loss journey)
- Green initiatives your company is taking
- Strange or quirky information
With an average open rate of 20% (and an even lower click-through rate), creating an engaging newsletter can seem like a daunting task. But you can do it! Just keep our tips in mind.
Remember the six principles of journalism:
- Human Interest
And don’t forget to use images, to include an attractive subject line, and to always include a call to action.
Have you found success in creating newsletters? Do you have any concerns about creating great newsletters? Please let us know in the comments below.
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