Creating an email newsletter for your mailing list can go a long way in driving traffic back to your blog. Writing an email newsletter is hard work, but it’s even more challenging to get your subscribers to open it. Here’s how to write an email newsletter that your subscribers will read.
Sending emails is easy; it’s getting your recipients to read them that’s difficult.
But how do you make sure your subscribers read your newsletters?
Today’s article lists down techniques on how to write an email newsletter that gets read by your subscribers. Follow these guidelines so your email newsletter doesn’t find itself in the dreaded “Mark as read” purgatory.
First, you need to decide which type of newsletter you’ll send to your subscribers. This mainly depends on your target audience and what they expect and want from an email newsletter. You’ll also need to consider whether you can do it; that is, if you’ll have enough time in between creating the actual content on your blog and writing your newsletter/s.
You’ve probably subscribed to a few newsletters yourself, and you probably have an idea of the different types of newsletters around and how they differ in form and content depending on who sends it. But chances are they fall in one of the following basic categories.
Creating content that only your subscribers have access to is a great way to make your subscribers feel special. This also benefits you in that sometimes you have ideas that might be inadequate for a full-length blog post but feels just right for an email.
You can also switch up the format of your blog posts, and then send them only to your subscribers. For example, you can convert an information-heavy post into an infographic, and then send that as a bonus content to your subscribers, along with a link to the original post.
Exclusive content can also include topics that aren’t directly related to your blog. You can share resources or tools that you’ve used and worked for you and that might work for your subscribers as well. You can also share a behind-the-scenes look at your process; photos of you working on your blog, photos of your work desk, or photos of your latest project if you’re working on one.
Alerting your subscribers every time there’s a new post up on your blog is a nice reminder for them to check it out. Including a preview or a brief introduction gives you the opportunity to really “sell” it and convince them to read it.
You’re not limited to recent blog posts, too. You can also do this for past posts that didn’t get much traction, or are relevant again because of something in the news, or you’ve recently updated with new information. You may just get a click or two out of it, which is good! It may even generate new interest in your past posts.
If you publish more frequently than twice a week or would like to provide subscribers with the option to subscribe to digests instead of being alerted to individual blog posts, then these are a great alternative.
A digest would typically contain the posts for that week, month, or quarter, depending on how you want to structure it. It’s best to include a short summary and a prominent link to each of the posts that you’ll feature, so that your subscribers can decide which posts they’re interested in and which ones they’re not.
Have upcoming projects? Major blog redesign? Celebrating a major milestone, like your 1,000th post? Announce it to your subscribers first. Again, this makes them feel like VIPs for being the first to know.
Aside from news about your blog, you can also send a newsletter with the latest news and updates on your niche/industry in general.
How often you send this type of newsletter would depend on the news or milestone. You can go months without sending one, and then send twice in one month. It’s quite difficult to schedule this kind of newsletter, but just be prepared to send one of these at least once in your blogging career.
Now that you have an idea of what types of newsletters you can send to your subscribers, it’s time to learn how to go about actually writing the newsletter.
Your newsletter should have the information they signed up for and nothing more.
If you do want to add, make sure it’s still related to what your subscribers are expecting.
For example, if they signed up for a monthly digest of your blog, make sure you give them all the blog posts for that month. If you’re going to give them a little something extra, maybe give them a link to an older blog post that’s related to one of the more recent blog posts in the digest.
But if they’re expecting a monthly digest and you include news about your niche or anything else that’s unrelated to your blog posts for this month, your subscribers may get disappointed or feel that they subscribed to the wrong thing, and just unsubscribe from your newsletter.
Always send the information that your subscribers signed up for. Unmet expectations can turn a subscriber into an UNsubscriber.
You don’t want your subscribers to be reading a massive block of text for minutes on end.
Some types of newsletters may be lengthy by their nature, and that’s fine. Don’t be terse, but don’t ramble, either. Just make sure that you use as many words as necessary to convey your message and nothing more.
Make every word count.
The main purpose of your newsletter is primarily so you can connect with your readers, not so you could sell them something.
Think about it. People subscribe to newsletters because they want information, be it in the form of blog posts, news, or anything else that’s educational. People don’t subscribe to newsletters because they want sales pitches. They already get too many sales emails to purposely sign up for more.
MAYBE an exception would be if it’s actual news that your subscribers are interested in. For example, you’re finally launching a product that you’ve been working on for a while, and your readers are actually excited over it. Given that, tell it like you would tell a friend: tell them you’re thrilled, tell them why, then leave it.
Ideally, your newsletter should be 100% information, but if you really really REALLY feel your subscribers would benefit, maybe turn it up to 90% information, 10% promotion.
Your subscribers want information, not sales pitches.
Just because you’re not selling doesn’t mean you can’t drive your subscribers to do something.
If you’re sending newsletters about your latest blog posts, experiment with making the links back to your blog posts into prominent CTAs instead of just hyperlinks. A proper button is much more enticing to click on than an itty bitty blue text, especially if your subscribers are reading their emails on their mobile devices.
Other CTAs you can include in your newsletter are to follow you on social media, give you feedback, or forward your newsletter to a friend.
Just like in your blog posts, having one primary CTA works best. However, depending on the length and type of your newsletter, you can have more than one CTA on your newsletter. If that’s the case, make sure to still have a main CTA that stands out among the rest.
Have at least one CTA.
A minimalist aesthetic works particularly well in an email newsletter because you want to make it easy for your subscribers to read your email and not distract them from it.
For this reason, text-only email newsletters with plenty of whitespace are gaining popularity. Personally, I prefer this format, too. It just feels more personal, like a friend just updating me about what’s going on in their life.
Sometimes, though, it makes sense to include images in your newsletter. For example, if you’re trying to show them your redesigned blog, or you’re telling a story that needs images, or if you’re purposely sending an image as repurposed content. That’s perfectly fine as long as it helps your content rather than takes away from it.
Also, don’t forget to include alt text in your images; not for SEO purposes, but for people who prefer to not download images on their email to know what was supposed to be in that space.
Don’t overdesign your email newsletter; your content should speak louder than your design.
The success of a blog post is largely determined by its headline. If it’s not compelling enough, the rest of it doesn’t get read.
Similarly, your subject line determines whether your subscriber opens your email. No matter how great your newsletter is, if it doesn’t get opened, it doesn’t get read, and it’s therefore pointless.
Writing a compelling subject line isn’t too far off from writing a compelling headline, so if you’re already seeing success in your headlines, then you’re probably going to do great with your subject lines.
Your subject line should convince your subscribers to open your email.
Your subscribers probably want to hear from you, that’s why they subscribed to your newsletter in the first place.
But remember, they also want to feel that you want to hear from them and that you’re open to their comments or feedback.
Invite your subscribers to reply to your email if they have something to say. Use a “From” email address that they can reply to. Allowing your subscribers to reach you by replying directly to your newsletter amps up that “I’m special” vibe that you should be giving your subscribers.
Having two-way communication benefits you as well. You get to receive valuable feedback, as well as honest insights into what your subscribers think about your newsletter and your blog. You might even get inspiration for blog posts out of it.
When you receive emails through that email address, make sure that you reply as soon as you possibly can. Even if it’s just to say “thanks,” your subscribers will appreciate knowing that it’s really you that they’re emailing and not a nameless, faceless robot.
Keep your communication lines with your subscribers always open.
No one likes an unreliable person; not in their friend group, not in their workplace, not in their inbox, not anywhere.
When initially planning your newsletter, set reasonable targets for yourself. Know your schedule so you’ll know what you can commit to.
When your subscribers are opting in to your newsletter, inform then how often to expect your newsletter. If you promised your subscribers a weekly newsletter sent out every Friday, you’d better make sure that newsletter is sent every Friday.
That said, life happens. Sometimes there is a perfectly acceptable reason why you weren’t able to send when you said you were. In that case, apologize to your subscribers, tell them the reason, and promise them (and yourself!) to do better next time. Who knows, you might even get a compelling story out of the reason you missed your deadline.
If you find yourself always missing your target, you might want to scale down how frequent your newsletter comes out. If you’re putting out a weekly digest, you might want to do a monthly one instead. And of course, don’t forget to tell your subscribers about the change.
Set a schedule for your newsletter and do everything you can to follow it.
It sounds almost like you want your subscribers to unsubscribe.
That’s not the case at all.
First of all, if you’re sending emails to residents of the US, the CAN-SPAM Act legally requires you to provide a clear, undisguised link to unsubscribe to your emails.
Even if it’s not mandatory, it’s still a good idea to display your unsubscribe link somewhere conspicuous, and you actually benefit more from it than your subscribers.
Having a clear, simple process to unsubscribe for your subscribers makes it less likely for them to take drastic action like auto-deleting emails from you, or worse, marking them as spam.
A ton of unread emails is bad enough for your metrics, but the more users mark your content as spam, the more likely your emails to other subscribers are to land in their Spam folders as well. When your email service provider detects this, you may be temporarily or even permanently banned from using their service.
In addition, to see actual increases in your traffic, you want subscribers who are engaged (i.e., clicking links to your blog post, sharing your post on their social media from their email, etc.), and if they don’t want your content to begin with, they won’t engage with it.
Make it easy to unsubscribe to your newsletter.
Most email service providers have a way to record the important metrics of your email, such as how many opened your email, how many clicks your CTAs got, and how many people unsubscribed. Make sure to enable them to track these metrics so you can analyze the data later.
Your metrics can’t directly help you with the actual writing of your newsletter, but they will help you know if your newsletter is effective and help you improve. After all, how will you know you’re hitting your goals if you don’t know how your newsletter is doing?
Compile and analyze the data about your newsletter and pinpoint where you can improve.
Writing an awesome email newsletter that gets read takes hard work and a genuine understanding of your audience. But if you do it right, your email newsletter can go a long way in driving traffic back to your blog.
Here are some more reminders before you write your newsletter.
You can do A/B testing or split testing on different components of your email newsletter to find what your subscribers like. Make sure you test only one component at a time and then analyze data from your email service provider to know the results of your tests.
Some examples of what you can test include different subject lines, short summaries of blog posts versus longer ones, your CTAs, sending on different times of the day, and even the type of content in your newsletter (e.g., plain text versus a mix of visual content and text, or all images).
It may sound corny, but it would be nice if your subscribers feel that that they’re getting an email from a friend instead of a salesman. Using a conversational tone will go a long way in making your emails fun to read. If your emails are fun to read, your subscribers will begin to look forward to receiving and reading your emails.
Your subscribers likely signed up for your mailing list because they liked your content and enjoyed reading it. It just makes sense to use the same writing voice (maybe a little bit more casual) and maintain the same quality of your content in your newsletter.
For you to maintain your consistency, you need to remember to speak to the same people you’re speaking to when you’re writing content for your blog.
Have you created a newsletter for your blog? Which one of these guidelines helped you? Which one didn’t? Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.