The trick to writing email newsletters

By Iona Nelson | Engagement

Feb 25

How many emails do you have in your inbox every morning? A lot, right?

To readers, your newsletter is one of the many, MANY emails they receive every day. Sales pitches, spam blasts and daily deals are all battling to get their attention. 

So how do you make sure they read your newsletter?

First, let’s clarify what a newsletter is. 

A newsletter is a regular email sent to your subscribers. It’s full of various types of content, from latest industry news to what you’ve been up to and quirky videos or jokes. 

The aim of a newsletter is to build trust between your business and its audience.

It is not a place for you to sell your own products. 

It is not the place for you to simply share your blog content and direct readers to your website.

So what’s the point? Building trustful relationships and providing useful insights to your readers. It is vital to the survival of your business to create a positive affinity with your audience.

Newsletters can give your audience the belief that:

  1. You care about what they want or need
  2. You are an expert in your industry
  3. You are a brand that can be trusted

Relationship building has become more important than the sales pitch in recent years. Thanks to the internet, customers can now do their own thorough research and find peer reviews before making a decision on a purchase. 

They no longer have to rely on your sales pitch. 

When it comes to being noticed and remembered by consumers, it all comes down to that relationship you’ve built. And that insightful, useful and entertaining newsletter you’ve been sending plays a big part in that.

Remember though: your competitors will be sending newsletters too. You want yours to be the most memorable - and for the right reasons. So let’s go over how you can write newsletters that people actually want to read.

Keep your newsletter structured

Since a newsletter is a regular publication, it’s important that your readers know what to expect. You want your newsletter to be an exciting part of your readers’ day. They should be opening it with a buzz, excited to read whatever awesome content you’re sharing. 

To build this buzz, you need structure. How you structure your newsletter is entirely dependent on your business, industry and the information you want to share. But start by picking a few clearly defined sections. 

These sections could be, for example: 

  • Industry news
  • Quote of the day
  • Industry job opportunities
  • Book recommendations
  • Product recommendations
  • Opinion blurb
  • Photo of the week

Look at your newsletter like a traditional newspaper (remember those?). It has dedicated sections and specific columns in every issue. Whether readers are interested in sports headlines, political news or Garfield comic strips, they can rely on the newspaper to always have that section and always in the same place.

Readers jump ahead to their favourite sections of a newspaper. They should be able to do the same with your newsletter and a reliable structure will make sure of it.

Pay attention to the design

To make your awesome structure even more readable, you want to spend plenty of time working on the design.

An average of 293 billion emails were sent and received in 2019 - a number that is expected to continue rising every year.

Don’t let your email get lost in the commotion. You want your newsletter to stand out. Make it a highlight of the readers day. While they’re scrolling past other emails and mass deleting, you want them to think “Hold up, I always love this newsletter, let’s read it now”.  

A lot of that initial attraction comes from your design. 

First, make sure your newsletter matches your branding. Colours, logos and fonts should all be on par with your other business materials. This helps readers associate the newsletter with your business. Awesome newsletter = awesome business. 

Pull your readers in with a catchy subject line. If your newsletter has a name - such as our Ninja newsletter: The Marketing Brain Box - try putting this name at the start of the subject line. When readers are scrolling through their inbox, this will help them identify your newsletter from the thousands of other emails. 

Make sure to use a tagline somewhere at the top of the page to give folk a juicy taste of what’s inside!

You’ve already decided on the exciting sections of your newsletter. Brilliant! But there is a difference between creating these sections and showing them to the reader.  

Break up the sections visually with images and headers. 

Remember we discussed jumping to a section? At a glance, it should be obvious where each section starts and ends. People love imagery and it’s a great way to mix up your content while keeping readers attention. 

Make it personal

We’re all big kids when it comes down to it. And even if we know the name field in an email is automated, seeing our names in an email still makes us feel special!

It’s simple. Put in peoples names. “Hey John”, “How are you, John?”. 

You can gather this information upon sign-up. Instead of only asking for an email address, ask for a name. Even if it’s just a first name, that’s all you need!

Top tip: Don’t include a comma after your first-name field. Otherwise, if subscribers haven’t entered their name, instead of “Hey John,” you’ll get “Hey      ,”. Just a very awkward space-comma situation. 

And structure your wording so readers know you’re speaking to them directly and the content was written with them in mind.

 “I read this book last week, and I immediately thought of you. I think you’ll love it”

You thought about me?! Well, I’ll just HAVE to give it a go!

You get the picture.

Do not give a sales pitch!

This is incredibly important. A newsletter is not the place for a sales pitch.

I repeat: Newsletters are NOT for sales pitches. 

If you bombard the inboxes of your loving subscribers with constant sales pitches, you’ll watch their names drop off like flies.

Newsletters are about building a relationship. It’s a chance to show you care. Having the occasional reminder in there about a deal you have on is fine. But 99.9% of your content needs to be aimed at nurturing your audience, not selling to them. 

Kick the sales pitch to the curb for now. Link to external articles you’ve read or speak about books written by other people. Show readers you’re on the ball with the industry and full of valuable insight! This honest and human approach will build trust between readers and your brand.

Conclusion

Now you’re loaded with our tricks to writing newsletters people want to read, it’s time to get writing your own! 

Gather up some brilliant content. 

Make it into a readable structure. 

Add an attractive, on-brand design and some personalisation. 

Then prepare to send it to your list. 

Don’t forget that newsletters are regular - so once you’re done, get planning the next one!

If you want to know more about the power of newsletters, we cover this - and many other marketing wonders - in our Marketing Automation Academy!

It’s an amazing space where you can learn from experts, improve your content writing (including critique from the Ninja experts) and be supported by others who are on the same journey as you.

Be part of an exclusive academy

Take your content to the next level in the Marketing Automation Academy - learn how to create epic email newsletters and
much more to drive your audience engagement.

Further resources:

Email Newsletter Tips

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