In my last post I talked about how to increase sign-ups to your email newsletter. But once people have signed up, how can you ensure that you always provide them with content that they will find relevant and interesting?

A good place to start is by featuring practical articles that offer useful ‘inside information’ (ie something interesting that they don’t already know) relating to the specific subject that they signed-up to. Whilst your articles should always be well-researched, a highly opinionated approach given in a forthright style can often make your article much more interesting and engaging – as well as provoking more responses and discussion amongst your readers.

Act like a publisher rather than a promoter, focusing on your reader’s needs instead of just talking about how good your company is. Articles should strike a balance between value-added and relevant product-orientated material – a good rule of thumb is 75:25 value-added to product-related content. The provision of value-added material should not be dependent on the reader purchasing your product or service. Instead, you could inform readers about a developing area that is relevant to their interests, and then mention within the article how your product can help them to benefit in this new area. This approach can boost your perceived relevance and expertise in the field.

Content often falls into one of the falling six categories:

  1. ‘How To’ or ‘Top Tips’ guides, relating to using your product or your particular area of professional expertise.
  2. Articles from guest experts within your organisation, for example: insider expert tips or personal opinion pieces. Alternatively, you could invite a recognised external guest expert to contribute a useful article, sharing their own particular area of expertise and experience with your audience.
  3. Customer case studies or interviews. These add a real human-interest angle to the newsletter, showing the reader that others have already obtained the benefits being promised. Case studies must be relevant and interesting to the recipient though – ideally featuring plenty of photography, quotations and background detail to bring them to life. A useful structure to follow is:

               a. Outlining the situation/ problem

               b. Moving towards finding a solution

               c. The chosen product/ service

               d. The results achieved (business and personal)

  1. Responses to topical news stories: for example updates on upcoming legislation, or your comment on new research findings or relevant topics featured in the national news. If you post your newsletter on your website, this can be a great way to pick up new subscribers who have found your article via natural search on a ‘currently trending’ topic that they are interested in.
  2. You could feature book/ article reviews as well as links to other useful websites and blogs you have found. In this way you can build your reputation as a trusted ‘curator’ – signposting new sources of related useful information.
  3. Question and answer formats relating to particular issues relevant to your customers, or actual questions they have sent in to you (for example: “what are the most effective ways to make my computer more secure?”).

It’s a good idea to build a ‘bank’ of relevant articles that can be used for upcoming issues of your email newsletter. The more contributors you have, the easier this becomes (so long as you have a designated editor responsible for maintaining overall quality control). Once you have a selection of potential articles at your disposal, you could consider customising your newsletter – matching the most relevant articles to particular groups of readers who have either expressed an interest in that topic, or are highly likely to be interested, based on their previous activity. For example, a computer vendor could customise the content of their newsletter to PC users and Apple Mac users.

The use of ‘dynamic template’ software can help automate this customisation process, by using pre-set rules to populate the newsletter template with different articles and imagery, personalised to individual customer sub-groups. National or international organisations can also use this technology to incorporate local-interest stories, based on the reader’s geographic location.

But, at the end of the day as long as you ensure that you keep your newsletter content interesting, useful and relevant to your specific target audience then you shouldn’t go too far wrong! Are there any additional general principles which you have found to work well when generating content for your own regular newsletter communications?

If you’re interested in exploring this area in more detail (together with relevant examples), you might like my recent book ‘Successful Marketing Communications’.  If you have any thoughts or comments, do drop me a line below.

Written by Rob H

I’m a Chartered Marketer with over 20 years’ experience working in digital and offline marketing communications across the financial services, leisure, education and technology sectors – most recently working for a large financial services organisation, managing the acquisition marketing communications team. I gained an MSc in Strategic Marketing from Cranfield Business School in 2005 and the CIM Diploma in Digital Marketing in 2012. In 2012 I became the part-time course tutor at the Cambridge Marketing College for the CIM diploma in ‘Principles of Mobile Marketing’ – also authoring the accompanying Mobile Marketing study materials for the college. In March 2017 I published ‘Successful Marketing Communications‘ (available on Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks), which has become recommended reading for delegates at the IDM (Institute of Direct Marketing). When I’m not knee-deeping in reading/ writing the latest marketing communications articles I enjoy outdoor swimming and anything involving snow – with my goal for next year being to combine the two…

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