The following customer success story will help you improve your newsletter engagement and content marketing results.
For my birthday, my cousin ships a gigantic gift box filled with unusual items she collects all year. Might be silver ornaments shaped like body parts to protect me from illness and injury. Could be a six-fingered glove, with an extra finger to stash a house or car key. In the olden days, she’d include a cassette tape with a collection of thoughts that she recorded. (I miss those.)
My mother-in-law, on the other end of the spectrum, also shops all year for me. Her gifts also express her thought and care. Her gifts are items she has picked up in her travels around the world, but they follow a theme. It might be cooking, clothing, or games. As I unwrap each gift, I am excited to open the next one. Her staging has flow and purpose. Each present is wrapped in paper that is complementary to the other wraps – maybe a color theme or a design theme. Not traditional colors either. It might be salmon and silver. Or ocher and black. She is a cool lady.
The way these gift boxes are prepared shows that my cousin and mother-in-law were thinking about ME, the recipient, in their choices. That’s an important distinction because we’ve all gotten gifts (or re-gifts) where we thought, “What the hay?”
The reason I bring this up is that I just received a beautiful newsletter from my friend and client, Coach Scott Woodard, that is on the order of how my mother-in-law packages things.
In Scott’s newsletter, he laid out how his summer went. Big things are happening because he and his wife are buying a retirement home in Mexico. But instead of just blurting out all the details, he framed the missive in a lovely newsletter container that sets the stage and gets me excited to read.
All the items Scott mentions fall under an overarching theme, but each is interesting in its own right. He lists the business books he has read lately, and in the coming weeks, we will get to read his reviews. The newsletter is carefully curated. Each paragraph is reviewed and edited – or deleted. There is continuity between the sections that pull me through. Instead of skimming, I read each piece.
In the end, and this is important, he invites the reader to share the newsletter – and he states what he does as a service and for whom. Why is this important? Because I know what he does. He is my client. Yet if I am going to share this newsletter with someone else, I must be able to picture that perfect person based on how he has framed his offerings. He is saying, essentially, don’t just forward this to anyone just because you enjoyed the content. Think about who this newsletter would fit, based on this description of what I do, and then forward responsibly.
In every way, Scott writes based on where the reader is – in life, in space, at the moment.
A newsletter like this takes thought and planning.
I find that many businesses throw their newsletters together in a panic or as an afterthought, with an extra silent scream at the end that says, “Please, for God’s sake, do business with us.”
How much more professional is it to lay out a breathtaking, cohesive and timely communication that reminds the reader what a class act you are?
I’ve been in the magazine and newsletter publishing business since I graduated from college. I’ve transformed many, many publications over the years. If you are thinking of revamping your print or email newsletter – or if you publish a magazine – here are a few guiding principles you may find helpful:
> What’s going on in your reader’s world right now? How can we research our readers or do a better job of understanding them?
> What are the burning questions or issues on their minds at this moment?
> How can we help readers save time, make money, prevent a headache or mistake, or see something in a new way?
> How can we frame what we do so readers refer us to the kinds of people who will be grateful to meet us?
As you create your newsletter, you may find that my cousin’s quirky container filled with odd elements is the right approach for you. I certainly enjoy every box from her. If that’s your preference, just remember that it can’t be lazy, haphazard, or unprofessional.
Whether your approach is quirky or classy, each newsletter requires care, thought, and planning.
Your newsletter is a gift to your customers, prospects, fans, and other readers. How you wrap it is up to you, but make it your very best work, every time.
Read more from Sandy here.
Sandy Hubbard is a Marketing Strategist who specializes in the printing industry. She consults with owners, sales managers, and hybrid teams to help them create the kinds of results that lead to sales. Sandy is an industry expert who integrates marketing channels, especially targeted email and print newsletters, B2B publications, thought leadership articles, LinkedIn and Twitter, sales landing pages, and event assets. Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn or in the #PrintChat group, which she co-hosts with Deborah Corn, to learn more and join the group!
P.S. Your newsletter starts with high-quality content that is distinctive to your company. It requires editing, formatting, and a test email. (Yes, you really must do this). If you are personalizing to the recipient or tying the content to social posts – and we’ve all seen it happen – double-check for errors. Just this morning, I received a newsletter that I’ve subscribed to for years addressed to . My guess is that the sender changed email service providers, and the subscriber fields did not map properly. Always send an email to yourself (and then check it!) at the very least before hitting “publish.”