By now, the media industry seems to agree that email newsletters are an effective way to engage and grow audiences. The Washington Post considers email such a valuable communication tool that they recently engineered their own in-house newsletter delivery platform, new media companies like BuzzFeed have seen wild success with their newsletters, and Newsletter Editor is the new “it” title in the newsroom.
“Newsletters are clicking because readers have grown tired of the endless stream of information on the Internet, and having something finite and recognizable show up in your inbox can impose order on all that chaos,” David Carr said in a 2014 NYT piece.
Carr wrote that article more than two years ago, and the power of email has only grown since then. Adobe’s annual email survey revealed Americans are more tied to their inboxes than ever, and time spent checking email is projected to increase 17% year-over-year. So if your publication hasn’t taken a stab at a newsletter yet, it’s certainly something to consider.
With that in mind, here are three tips for a successful newsletter strategy:
Find your voice. While it’s obviously important to maintain a professional, on-brand voice across all channels, consider making your tone a bit more conversational in your email communications. Email is an intimate channel, and a more informal, familiar voice will resonate well with newsletter readers. Brief, skimmable sentences are also key—especially as more and more readers are consuming newsletter content on mobile. This is the perfect opportunity to be ruthless with those editing skills. Less is more on email.
Know your goals, but be flexible. When you’re mapping out your newsletter plan, identify the specific objectives you want to achieve with this tool. What actions do you want this audience to take? Establish these goals early on and structure your content to organically guide readers toward these actions. Stay open to experimentation and test different ideas out; you don’t have to have a foolproof strategy in place right off the bat. Track reader actions and assess performance regularly. This way, you can always change course if certain parts of your strategy aren’t panning out. When it comes to newsletters, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Testing and re-assessing will help you hit your stride and discover what works best for you.
Make it shareable. Accompany your newsletter content with social media sharing buttons to encourage readers to distribute their favorite pieces to their own networks. Most email marketing software will allow you to add these buttons in with a few simple clicks. This is a great way to start conversations and drive new readers to your site. You might also feature a “Forward to a friend” link in the footer of your newsletter template as a simple, organic way to grow your subscriber list.