A great way to keep your customers and followers updated with information, views and ideas. If your web content and blog are top drawer, then you can be certain that people will want to hear the secrets buried in your newsletter. It’s a great way to get people to sign up and give you their email address, meaning that every newsletter subscriber is a potential customer… but then you need to keep them signed up. And that means producing a great newsletter every time.
What is a newsletter?
Quite simply, a newsletter is information, views, and ideas that are distributed regularly to a group of interested parties. They are used by clubs, retailers, trade bodies, authors, financial institutions, and many others to let people know what is going on in their organisation, or perhaps of special promotional offers, or any key information pertinent to the reader.
A newsletter can be distributed to a qualified list of subscribers, or posted on a website for download, either by members or the public.
Why produce a newsletter?
Anyone that needs or wants to keep other people informed about what is going on should consider producing a newsletter. It can be used to educate, disseminate one-off and regular news, or let people know about dates of special events. Many clubs also use newsletters as a method of sending out meeting minutes, creating meeting summaries in their newsletters.
A newsletter also helps to build a sense of community among subscribers, and can help create new interest for products and services. For all, it is a great way of reducing the amount of time necessary to discuss current information.
What are the elements of a good newsletter?
Successful newsletters are produced on a regular basis, with readers learning to expect the newsletter on a certain date. Typically, because of the amount of work involved in producing a newsletter, they are sent on a monthly basis. They also follow a regular format, with length between one page and 20 or 30 pages, in a standard design: this way, recipients know what to expect and the sort of content they will be reading.
Some companies, clubs, and even individuals, send out their newsletters in hard copy format (printed). However, one of the reasons for producing a newsletter is to cut down on costs, so it is more usual nowadays to send a newsletter by email. Doing so necessitates the use of an email marketing service such as Mailchimp (I use this myself, both for newsletters that I send and on behalf of customers).
Email marketing services allow a newsletter to be designed online, and the email list of recipients to be managed online, too. An opt-out option should always be attached to any newsletter mailing, particularly online, so this ability to manage distribution lists online is really important. Depending on how many recipients are on a distribution list, and how often a newsletter is to be distributed, there will be a cost attached to sending such mailings.
Just as popular is the newsletter produced on a PDF and released to a website for download by members or the public. Whilst this reduces any mailing cost to zero, it also means that the sender cannot be certain that all the desired recipients have received the newsletter.
Whatever the method of dissemination, a newsletter should have a primary purpose with a defined audience who receive it. It should also have great content, because without that content readers will soon become disinterested and give up on reading it.
Producing a newsletter
Before a newsletter can be sent out, it will need articles written. How these are written – their style, tone, and format – will depend upon the aim of the newsletter and who it is written by and for.
The newsletter will also need to be designed so that consistency is achieved and to make for standard length of article production.
On top of these articles, the newsletter may benefit from appropriate images, and should have a consistent masthead. Email or PDF online newsletters can also contain links to other content: this allows readers to click through to other articles or blog posts, for example, thus increasing site traffic.
To produce a newsletter takes time and patience, but offers the sender a host of rewards:
- It keeps people updated quickly and easily
- It can be used to increase awareness
- It is an efficient way to distribute news and special offers
- It reduces the time of producing meeting minutes
- It cuts time spent during meetings on covering news and information
- It reduces costs
The newsletter is a set of articles
Essentially, a newsletter is a set of articles. Each of these articles may have a different focus, but encapsulated within the single theme of the newsletter. For example, a newsletter that we send to the members of a creative writing group that has this standard content:
- Group news
- Individual member news
- News of publications
- Upcoming events/ meetings
- A summary of the last meeting
- Links to interesting articles
- The standard opt-out facility, and a call to action to send out to a wider audience (friends and family of the recipients)
The articles need to be written how the newsletter author wants them to be written, and with regard to the target audience. If the author is hiring a writer to do this work, then all this will need to be discussed and agreed.
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