25 tips for writing great newsletters

Connecting with your customers

Well written, well-presented and targeted newsletters are really effective in connecting your business with your customers. Paper and email newsletters (enewsletters) have a much better chance of being read than paid advertisements.

Newsletters with interesting content are an effective way of promoting your business’ products or services. Internal newsletters are really important in keeping people informed and will build and maintain staff morale.

Here are 25 important tips on how to produce a great and effective newsletter.

Have a strong purpose

1. Make sure your newsletter has a strong purpose and objective. Know exactly what you want it to achieve, for instance, it should be aimed at giving your audience what they want to know about your industry and building your reputation.

2. Use your newsletter to engage your customers and establish a relationship. Use promotions (competitions, discounts and coupons) to encourage readers to become customers.

3. Good content should encourage your readers to pass the newsletter on to a broader audience and thus widen your potential market.

4. Newsletters have long lead times. The results of good newsletter campaigns take time to show; evidence suggests this is at least 6 or 12 months.

Use a simple style

5. Use plain English, good grammar and spelling. Make your newsletter clear. Respect your readers.

6. You don’t have to give away all your business secrets but give the audience something that they want or need to know. The more generous you are the more readers you will get.

7. Provide varied content to engage and excite your readers (promotional stories, Q&A, case studies, customer testimonials, puzzles, competitions, promotions etc).

8. Use active ‘voice’. Make sure you voice is consistent with your image: fun, businesslike, relaxed, adventurous etc

9. Use good copywriters and always use a separate proof-reader.

10. Be relevant: teach your readers something, show them that you can give them more than they can do themselves.

Use varied and interesting content

11. Use feature articles to demonstrate depth of knowledge. They should increase interest and direct customers to get more information either from your website or directly from you. Use short items to give different perspectives on the key messages.

12. Provide statistics to support your articles. It provides evidence and supports your messages. Your own statistics are most valuable because they show your readers your thoroughness.

13. Use newspaper-style headlines – they are catchy and effective.

14. Use a format that matches your message. For a print newsletter, a single-page, two-sided newsletter is attractive to a reader because it is short, sharp and not a time burden to read.

15. Direct readers to your website for more detailed information and provide contact information – phone, fax numbers and email addresses to help your readers find you.

Make it look good and easy to read

16. Make it look professional – it tells your readers you care about them. Make sure your layout is attractive and the design simple to attract and aid readers.

17. Never, never, never use clip art. It demonstrates that you are an amateur.

18. Use white space – don’t crowd the page with content. Space is important in the layout of any document. Avoid cluttered layouts they can be difficult to read.

19. Always use captions on images and diagrams. Provide meaningful and readable captions to help the reader understand what the images mean.

Set a high standard for your newsletter

20. Determine how often you should publish by your audience’s willingness to read the newsletter, the effort needed and the cost. Monthly is best, bimonthly or quarterly are easiest when you start.

21. Know your organisation’s capabilities and resources. You need an experienced editor and designer with the time to do the job. Without time and ability you will get a poor quality product, waste your money and effort and damage your reputation with your clients and customers.

22. Make sure you meet your deadlines—deliver it when your readers expect it.

Choose the right distribution method

23. Choose the most effective distribution method for your circumstances. Email is cheap but may be treated like spam by the customer. Print can be expensive and non-interactive but it can be more accepted.

24. Keep your distribution database secure, up-to-date and accurate. Be mindful of privacy legislation with the information on your distribution database.

Get your readers involved

25. Seek to involve your readers in production of the newsletter content (ask for contributions or run competitions). Internal newsletters need to be ‘owned’ by the employees and should have as much input from them as possible.