Your newsletter sent by email is still an important marketing tool for staying in front of customers and prospects. But how can you produce an interesting eLetter with fresh and compelling content with minimum time and effort?
I sent an email complimenting my colleague, Management Consultant Terry Schmidt, on his recent eNewsletter. I know Terry from my work on the board of the Association for Strategic Planning. He’s smart and creative, and I enjoy reading his news. Terry wrote back that he spends quite a bit of time on writing each issue and is looking for a way to systematize some of his key processes.
Here are 5 ways to systematize the process of planning, writing and producing your newsletter.
1. Make a template for newsletter content
Create some standards for what you will publish in each newsletter issue. This will help systematize your newsletter so you don’t have to “re-invent the wheel” every issue. For example, you might include some of the following:
- A section that lists 3-5 headlines from your industry with a brief description of why the news is important.
- A featured article related to your work, product or services.
- A list of upcoming events.
- Your top 3 blog posts, videos, slide decks, or other content published since the last issue.
- A favorite recent photo, a recipe, a meaningful quote or a joke.
Set up your email template with each element in the same place each issue, so you don’t have to redesign the eLetter each time. Try to establish a target length for each element, so you don’t have to adjust your design each time.
2. Write articles and collect data for the next issue as you go
Keep a folder where you can jot down article ideas and other content to fit your template. I have an eNotebook on Evernote for my newsletter, because I’m trying to be paperless. The great thing about Evernote or other online folders is that you can access them from any where or any device, and you can share them with your support staff as necessary.
Get into a routine of writing for your website more frequently. Write each newsletter piece well before the newsletter is due and post them to your website as blog posts or article pages. When it’s time to publish your newsletter, you won’t have to both write everything and then also format and edit the eNewsletter.
3. Keep the Content Short (Depending on your Audience and Topic)
In general, people don’t read much today. I think it’s a sad state of affairs, but that’s the reality. Most don’t make time, and up and coming business people grew up in the video generation and are less apt to read lengthy articles. So, in general, you might consider keeping your articles brief and linking to more detail on your website if readers want more.
Just remember that the length of your eLetter and its articles should fit your audience and your topic. For example, if you are targeting the millennial generation, perhaps your eLetter can include some short blurbs and links to a variety of media. If you are targeting busy executives, consider having both articles they can read and podcasts they can listen to.
4. Publish your eLetter consistently.
Whether you have a monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly or weekly newsletter, try to publish it on the same day or same week every time. Remember that most eNewsletter utilities such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Vertical Response allow you to set up your newsletter in advance and schedule it for publication on a certain day. Don’t wait until the last day, hour or minute to get the newsletter done!
Watch the frequency of your newsletters. Publishing too often can degrade your quality and annoy your readers. I do not recommend a weekly newsletter unless you are sending short quotes, tips or links to which readers have opted in.
5. Engage an editor or newsletter support person.
If you are constantly pressed for time when it comes to the final editing, publishing and distributing your eLetter, outsource this process to a virtual assistant or marketing support person. You will still write the original content and have final approval before the newsletter goes out.
I hope this helps you produce a better eLetter more easily, with less time and effort. If you have other tips for systematizing eNewsletters, please add your comments below.
Do you need help with your marketing or eNewsletter production? New Incite provides writing, editing and production services so that you can focus on the day-to-day aspects of your business. Contact us today for more information.
Photo from Flickr by Sonny Abesamis. Some Rights Reserved.