Everything you need to know about our newsletter project

Author: Ashton Oldham

Hey there, I'm Ashton, the Content Ninja with a penchant for creativity! I'm all about crafting killer customer-focused content and sprinkling it with that special sauce that makes brands pop. Teaching, strategising, organising (people and projects), and spicing up collaborations? That's my jam!

People usually hate receiving email newsletters from businesses and most of the time won’t even look at them.

Why? Because most newsletters are crap...

But of course it doesn’t have to be like that. A good quality newsletter can be an amazing asset to your business, helping you engage your audience and position yourself as the authority that you are!

So often businesses think that sending out a newsletter detailing all the things the company has been up to over the past week, fortnight, month etc., is the way to go. That’s what a newsletter is right?

We feel your pain Judge Judy!

Heck no! Frankly your audience doesn't really give a s**t! (sorry not sorry.)

A company update is not a newsletter, at least it really shouldn’t be. You can include a short company update in your newsletter by all means, but please don’t make this whole piece all about you.

Also, please don’t approach it as a sneaky sales piece. It’s not a great idea to promote your products and services and pretend it's news - no matter how awesome your offering. 

Unfortunately your audience will see right through it! If you want to sell, you MUST provide lots of high value content before you even think of dropping in a sales pitch.

The definition of ‘newsletter’ according to Merriam-Webster is “a small publication containing news of interest chiefly to a special group.”

See how I’ve bolded one specific word there? Your newsletter should be interesting to the reader.

A good newsletter should contain valuable information, new information, it should be thought provoking, and very importantly a pleasure to read. It also really helps if it’s human and full of  personality throughout!

We like to keep it fairly simple and split good newsletters into two types.

The two types of good newsletter

  • Insight
    This is all about value, providing pure insight driven information to your readers that they can’t get anywhere else. Focusing the content on a particular topic of interest to your audience. 
  • Collation
    Probably the most popular / commonly used type of newsletter, where you collect a lot of information and list it out. Maybe the easier of the two, but not as high performing as an insight driven newsletter.

Using both of these methods together is a great way to create a newsletter people want to read.

Think about your own newsletter...

  • Does it provide lots of insight and value? Yes? Awesome well done you, go forth and be amazing <3
  • Does it dip onto one of those bad content types? Are you talking only about your business, focusing too much on your products or just not putting stuff of high value in there? If so, it’s time to make a change!
  • Do you even have a newsletter? No? Your audience would love to get one, albeit one that provides value and lots of awesome informative content.

If you find yourself in one of those bottom two, we’d love to help!

We offer an awesome newsletter creation service where we put all our expertise into producing read worthy newsletters with businesses. 

Working with the ninjas is a great way to reduce the anxiety and pressure of creating a newsletter that reflects your business and engages your audience. We know what works and what doesn’t, so we will produce something that you can be proud of and continue to work with successfully once the project is complete. 

What is a ninja newsletter project?

A ninja newsletter project is where we support you to create and send an engaging newsletter, based on a strong communication strategy.

We will audit your current newsletter which includes:

  • Looking at recent examples of your newsletter (if you have one)
  • Reviewing the engagement statistics over the past 6 months

In our calls we will establish what it is you’re wanting to achieve, what type of newsletter will support these goals and how we can work together to put everything in place for you to go off and be amazing.

Once we’ve established where you’re at, what you want and what you need, we will create a smashing bespoke structure for your newsletter that is unique to your business. Including suggestions on what you should be talking about in each section. 

The content will then be down to you - after all you’re the expert on your business. But we will spend time helping you nail the strategy, critiquing your content, imparting our expertise and ensuring you have really nailed what you’re wanting to say.

We’ll help you with those challenging areas such as coming up with a compelling name, and up to 6 months of content ideas to get you up and running, allowing you the time to master newsletter creation for yourself.

This particular project isn’t us writing and designing your complete newsletter for you on a regular basis. We do offer that level of service and if that’s what you’re looking for - please get in touch. We’d be happy to have a chat about your requirements.

Our job for the project is to ensure we provide the tools you need to stand on your own two feet and continue to create brilliant newsletters for your audience. 

Main objectives of the newsletter project

Our newsletter project is here to help you create an email newsletter that ticks all the right boxes to make it amazing. These checkpoints are based on some very specific tangible objectives: 

  • Get better engagement from your recipients - that’s higher open rates, higher click through rates and fewer unsubscribes.
  • Educate your readers on your company in a non-salesy way by showcasing that you’re an expert in your field, sharing common problems and solutions and providing useful information from the industry.
  • Deliver overall value to readers - tell them about things they want to know, give them valuable insight, offer key takeaways, make them feel part of a community.
  • Build your list by showing you how to present your audience with something worth signing up for.
  • Improve your list segmentation - we’ll teach how to do it so that it benefits your future communications.

Examples of high-performing newsletters

Pictured below are some snippets from our own newsletter - The Marketing Brainbox

We always try to take our own advice on board. This is why we continually review our newsletter performance and regularly audit the content structure to see where we could make improvements and keep it fresh. 

It’s so important to have a strategy and not just send a newsletter because you think you should and “everyone else is doing it”. 

So we took the time to really get to know our audience, what they want to read about and what information would be super valuable to them.

Then we got creative. People love stories, so to ensure we engage them we always try to include a story or anecdote. It also helps to paint a picture, sometimes the subject of your content can be complex so it’s a great idea to use a relatable story to explain your point.

Another great example is Ann Handley’s bi-weekly newsletter - we LOVE how she tells a story!

All good newsletters take the same things into consideration. 

Take a look at the list below (it's not exhaustive) but it’s what we like to ensure your newsletter is building towards:

  • Personalisation
  • Consistency
  • Length and structure
  • Unique content - not available anywhere else
  • Visualisation techniques 
  • Use of images, GIFs and video
  • Relevant trends and current affairs
  • Valuable information first
  • Minimal focus on brand and products
  • Tips and takeaway
  • Strong CTAs to further engagement

Why we offer the project in the first place

We know how hard it can be to get started on the right foot. We see so many bad newsletters that could be harming your relationship with your list. 

Everyone wants to know the secret to creating a newsletter that isn’t crap, and it just so happens that we’ve done the research and put those learnings into action. 

Now we want to share that knowledge, because we care and we get a kick out of businesses thriving with our help!

It’s very common for businesses to not quite understand the importance of a newsletter and how beneficial it can be.

We don’t want you to create newsletters because you think that's what every business does. We also don’t want you creating a newsletter that looks like X because you’ve seen other companies doing it and succeeding.

Your audience is different, and they will require your content to be personalised to their wants and needs.

Which is why talking strategy is a huge part of this project.

Let’s take a look at some statistics from research by the Content Marketing Institute.

According to their findings, email newsletters are the highest performing type of content for nurturing leads.

Nurture is the lifeblood of your marketing automation. Without it your conversions will always be poor, your list will not sustain your business and your sales campaigns will fall on deaf ears. 

Focusing on nurture means having an engaged audience that understands who you are and how you can help them, enjoys receiving and interacting with your content - and most importantly: converts

A newsletter can be a fantastic way to do this. But it must be strategic, catered to your target audience, and full of value add.

We know that can be a hard cookie to crack - and that’s why we’re here to help.

The process: what happens when you sign up

When you sign up to a newsletter project, we will get in touch via email with a list of questions for you to answer. Part of this will be a request for analytics and examples for your current newsletter. These questions help us understand you a little bit better and get us both on the same page. 

Don’t panic if you don’t even have a newsletter, or you don’t have access to any data - you’ll just need to let us know.

We’ll provide an attainable deadline for this and then set up our first call with you...

The first call is where we will really kick off the project. We’ll be talking strategy - going through the different types of newsletters and discussing the best option for you. This decision will be based on the information you have sent us, what your audience will find most valuable, what you would like to achieve and what we think will work best.

From here we will design a bespoke newsletter structure and suggest some ideas for content based on your audience interests, your business and industry. As a bonus we’ll also include some topics that you can utilise in the future as you continue to create your newsletter on your own. 

We’ll present the structure and content ideas to you, to give you the chance to ask questions or request any tweaks. 

Then comes the exciting bit - you’ll take everything we’ve given you and go off and create the content for your newsletter!

In the final call we will go through your newsletter and critique it as we see fit. Explaining what we would change (if anything) and why. This will be really valuable in helping you to approach content creation for your following newsletters.

Who is the project a good fit for?

If your business wants to have a robust communication strategy and improve engagement with your audience, then kick-starting a newsletter project will be great for you. 

You’ll need to be prepared to do some work, so if you’re chomping at the bit to share brilliant content via a regular newsletter then this is the perfect platform to get you going with that.

You might already have a newsletter but it’s not really performing as you’d like it to, if that’s the case this is a great next step. We can pull apart what you’re currently doing, show you what’s good and what isn’t and help you shape it into something you can really be proud of.

A newsletter is a brilliant vessel for providing value to both your prospects and customers, positioning your brand as an expert and authority, and a trusted thought leader in your space.  

Who is the project not a good fit for?

If you’re not interested in producing content on a regular basis, then this project won’t suit you. 

Perhaps you can’t envision having the time to set aside to focus on creating great content, whether that be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly.

Consistency is so important, if you start sending content and getting people excited to read your newsletter and then let that momentum drop off… it can really damage your brand. 

If you’re now realising that what you really need is someone to create the content for you, design the newsletter and help you get it out to your audience on a regular basis - with minimal input from you - then you’re looking for a different level of service.

The good news is that we are happy to help! Get in touch to let us know this is something you’re interested in and we can set up a call to talk about what you need 🙂

What results can you expect from a newsletter project?

At the end of the project you will have your first ninja level newsletter! We’ll also provide you with some more content ideas that you can utilise in following newsletters to ensure you can really hit the ground running.

In regards to your goals, you should see much better engagement with your list: An increase in opens and click through rates, a decrease in unsubscribes and unengaged contacts, and an audience more receptive to other types of content you send.

Another great data set you will be able to capture, is what your audience engages with. 

You’ll gain an overall view into your most popular content, and if you go the extra mile by introducing tags, you can begin to segment your list.

Using segmentation allows you to get really targeted with your other emails. This is an awesome plus and should definitely be utilised!

Sending ultra valuable content helps to boost trust and likeability in your brand, you’ll be more likely to convert leads, re-engage old customers, and strengthen brand loyalty. 

Newsletters are a great resource for improving ROI and keeping your customers loyal!

That should be a big goal - keeping current customers engaged and loyal to your brand, here’s why:

Forbes stated “Engaged, returning customers can boost revenue by 23%, as they tend to enjoy and feel loyal to a brand — and, as a result, purchase more.”

If you really nail your newsletter with insight driven content, you may even get replies from your audience. Your newsletter will become something they look forward to receiving and perhaps they’ll make sure to set time aside to read and absorb all the goodies within it.

How long will it take to see these results:

You should notice an immediate change, but also feel the benefits long term. We suggest you measure your general statistics (sign ups, opens, clicks, engagement rate) over 3-6 months to really build a picture of how your newsletter is affecting engagement. 

Why you might not see the results you hope for:

Not keeping up with the consistency of interesting, valuable and high-quality content, then you’ll likely not see the steady increase in engagement and continual growth of your list. 

If your content outside of your newsletter isn’t great and doesn’t reflect the quality of your newsletter, you may see this having a negative impact. 

If you don’t take the time to understand your audience, and what they are interested in, then you will struggle to keep the engagement levels up. This is why it’s so important to continually review your data and reach out to your audience. Any good relationship is built on trust, understanding and communication.

Talking of audience, if your list isn’t full of high-quality contacts then you will struggle. If it consists of email addresses you have purchased (naughty) or acquired in a less authentic way, then it won’t matter how great your content is - if it’s wrong for them or they never expected to receive it you’ll automatically have friction and poor engagement. We’d suggest a bit of a list clean up before you get started. 

Falling into bad habits, for example talking too much about yourself (your business) then you’ll probably notice people stop reading your newsletter, or may even choose to unsubscribe. 

It’s also important to drive traffic to your newsletter. If you’re not making it easy or compelling to sign up, then your list won’t grow and the engagement levels will plateau.

What happens if you’re not seeing your desired results:

When you’re sure that everything is aligned - you’re doing the work, following the strategy and structure - but you're still not seeing the results, chances are there is a mismatch between you and your audience.

If this is the case then the next step would be to do some psychographics and persona work to get really clear on whether your messaging is off, your not providing the right service, or your list is full of dud contacts.  

We do provide a full follow up audit service that you can purchase as an extra to the project if this is something you think you need, so you’ll just need to get in touch with us 🙂

This extra service usually consists of us doing a full review of your newsletters 3-6 months after the project and a dive into your stats. Then we will look to pinpoint where we think you may be going wrong, what possible external factors could be affecting your results and we’ll make an action plan for you to follow.

What’s required to make your newsletter project a success

We audit and critique, provide a bespoke structure suited to your business and audience and give you the tools to keep moving forward. 

Our aim is to make sure you understand the strategy, how to bring content together, how to structure it and how to continually review your success and create brilliant and engaging newsletters for your audience.

You will need to provide the initial information for us to audit, and you will be the ones to create the content following the structure and prompts that we give you. 

Further resources: