The Newsletter remains a cornerstone of many organizations’ email marketing. Deservedly so – a newsletter is flexible enough to communicate anything important, and structured enough to be easy to write. It also carries an official connotation from the organization: subscribers who see “newsletter” anticipate that its contents are somewhere in the continuum between relevant and required reading.
For these reasons, we would all like our newsletters to be more widely read. Even if their open rates and clicks are already strong, the more people who read the organization’s official word, the easier it is to further the organization’s objectives. Here are seven ways to make this email staple work even harder:
1. Give it a name. Calling your newsletter “Newsletter” is certainly accurate, though it stops short of giving the subscription a personality. The name of the newsletter for the department of sanitation in my county is called “The Paperless Airplane.” If a newsletter about picking up trash and recycling can have a catchy moniker, so can yours.
2. Add a contextual subject line. Many newsletters are titled by date or issue with subject lines to match, such as “Association XYZ Newsletter: August 2010.” While it is true that this subject line convention relieves the author of the burden of decision-making, a subject line that telegraphs the newsletter content would likely lift open rates. Do a few issues of A/B testing with an option like “XYZ Newsletter 8/10: Annual Meeting Pics and Presentations.” Soon you will have a good sense of what types of content references in the subject line your newsletter audience finds most appealing.
3. Post your newsletter as a web version. Your newsletter subscribers (and others you would like to be your newsletter subscribers) also spend time on your website, so why not use the media there to promote a link to the web version of your newsletter? Pointing to the web version won’t require any additional layout of formatting work and allows you to still benefit from Real Magnet’s analytics. Promote the web version in a “What’s New” section on your homepage, on your blog, and through your social media channels as well to distribute your newsletter to the widest possible audience.
4. Post newsletter archives online. And now that you’re using the web version of your newsletter, why not create a simple page on your website that serves as an archive of your recent newsletters? Again, no additional publishing work for the newsletters themselves is necessary. All you need to do is include the links Real Magnet generates to the recent web versions you would like to include. Then in the newsletter itself, point your subscribers to your Newsletter Archive page so they can review previous newsletters whenever they like.
5. Add a new section. One of the advantages to newsletters is that they are easy to template. Each one can include the same categories of content, making them easy to write and predictable to your subscribers. But the downside of rigid templating is that it can fatigue over time and start to feel a little formulaic. Try interrupting your regularly scheduled newsletter with a fresh new section – one that is noticeably different from the rest of the newsletter so that it really stands out. Maybe it is a single industry-relevant data point conveyed in a brightly colored graphic. Or it is a comment or quotation from someone known within your industry. Maybe it is a photo from a recent industry event, identifying the subjects with a caption (people love to see pictures of each other and themselves). Many newsletters are all work. Think of this section as the whistle that goes along with it.
6. Launch a win-back program for the unengaged. You probably have many subscribers to your newsletter who have not opened it in the previous 6, 9 or even 12 issues. Continuing to send to them and hoping for an improvement is a scenario for disappointment. Instead, identify these subscribers through recpeient-level tracking and run a separate win-back campaign for them. The objective of the campaign is to target them separately with a message or offer that will re-engage them with the organization. If they read the message, click-through, interact with some content on the other side (such as a poll or a video or a photo gallery or a blog post), the connection between them and your organization will be rekindled, and they are more likely to see the next newsletter you send them as relevant to them. And when this happens, you’ve just earned yourself another newsletter reader.
7. Recruit more subscribers. We all know this, but we don’t always do everything we can to encourage more people to subscribe to our newsletters. Take an inventory of all the sources of your subscribers, then compare it to all the points of contact you have with people who should be your subscribers. If the lists don’t match up, you have just identified new places to add a mechanism for joining your list.