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How to create great email newsletters

...even if you don't like to write


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Have you been putting off the development of your email marketing program because the thought of sitting in front of your computer for hours writing or editing makes you break out in cold sweats?

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to be a great writer to create a great email newsletter. What you do need is to understand your audience and what is—and isn’t—interesting to them. Armed with this knowledge (and a little work on your part, of course), you can curate content to create an email newsletter that engages your current customers and nurtures prospects through a positive brand experience. The process to do this is fairly simple and can be remembered with four C’s: collect, compose, contribute and convey.

Collect.

To create an email newsletter using curated content, you’ll want to start by creating a process to collect relevant content. Make a list of the places that publish interesting stories, statistics and trends related to or that directly influence your industry and your audience. Then develop a plan to regularly review these websites or publications or sign up to have their email newsletters sent to you.

After you have good content sources identified, begin to collect links to specific pieces of information that you’ll include in an upcoming newsletter. A system—even one as simple as a Word document where you dump ideas each month—is a good idea here, too.

Compose.

When the time comes to compose your email campaign, go back through your list of potential content and whittle it down to the best pieces. A recent study by Movable Ink found that email marketers have approximately 3 seconds (or 12 words) to capture a reader’s attention, so make sure every piece of content you decide to include packs a powerful punch.

You might even tie the content included each month together with a particular theme or consider having standing themes for regular sections of the newsletter; this way your audience can start to expect—and look forward to—certain types of content.

Contribute.

Once you have chosen the content you will include, a small amount of writing will be needed to tie the pieces together and provide context for why each article is appearing in your email newsletter. This is your writing contribution. A few examples:

  • The following article from XYZ.com discusses recent trends in holiday travel and what that might mean for the future of ABC industry.
  • Customer name has created a Pinterest board full of creative uses for your product. Be sure to check them out and share any other ideas you have with us!

As you are building your email, be sure to attribute the content to its original source and link back to anything that is available online. If you choose to quote large sections of an article—which isn’t recommended as short, concise teasers and information work best in email newsletters—reach out to the original author to ask if this type of use can be approved.

Convey.

Finally, remember to convey a strong sense of connection to your brand with your image choices and copy tone. To do this, start with a template that is customized to match your brand colors and visual identity guidelines. Then, select and use photos or graphics to accompany the stories that you include that match your brand style (rather than simply using whatever images were included with the original piece).

It’s also a good idea to lead an email newsletter composed of curated content with a short message from you—or the company—to set the stage and foster a feeling of connectedness with your brand. Again, this can and should be no longer than five or six sentences, but can be as short as two or three.

And there you have it, an easy way to communicate regularly and build both confidence in and value for your brand through your email marketing program with a method that requires a minimal amount of writing from you.

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Tanya Wheeler-Berliner

Tanya Wheeler-Berliner is the director of marketing for Email on Acid, a Colorado-based company that provides in email testing, troubleshooting and advanced analytics. She is an experienced communications and marketing professional with expertise in branding, strategy, content development, and digital channels. Connect with Tanya on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @tanyawb. Learn more about Email on Acid at www.emailonacid.com.

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