For many businesses, the regular newsletter is the primary way they communicate with past, current, and potential customers. For authors and publishers, it’s the main way they connect with readers. Unfortunately, if your newsletter is missing crucial information, it may not be as useful as it could be at engaging readers or stimulating business. In fact, you may even create a negative reaction in your readers, achieving the opposite of the effect you want.
I’ve copy edited newsletters for many of my clients and subscribed to dozens of others, and here are some things I’ve realized are “must-haves” when you are trying to make the most of your email list.
1. Link to website.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received newsletters without links to the sender’s website. Sometimes, there aren’t even links to the products or services being offered. If I read your newsletter and can’t easily click from it to your website, chances are I’m not going to close the email, open my web browser, open a search engine, search for your business name, navigate through the search results to find your company’s website, and then click to visit it. You’ve just lost a potential customer. Are you an author or publisher announcing a new book? If you don’t provide a link to the book or your website, there go your potential sales.
2. Sharing links.
Wow, that was a great article in your newsletter! I’d love to share it with my friends and followers on Facebook. Unfortunately, if you don’t have sharing links in your newsletter, I can’t do that, so all those lovely people I know won’t have a chance to find out about you.
3. Recent news.
It’s okay to do a little bragging in your newsletter. How else will your past, current, and potential customers/readers find out about your recent appearance on a podcast episode, or the guest blog post you contributed to The Guardian? Received next-round seed funding for your startup? Your book is now available in e-reader format? You won an award? Make sure your newsletter readers know.
4. Contact info.
Sometimes, people want to pick up the phone and call your business to ask questions about your services. Sometimes, they just want to email you, but don’t want to have to click on your website, then search for contact info. If you are a shop or restaurant, opening hours are crucial. Not all email newsletter systems allow people to reply to your emails; not all potential customers want to make their initial contact via email.
5. Unsubscribe option.
In the United States, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 defined rules regarding “Unsubscribe compliance” to require the following
- “a visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism” in all emails
- “consumer opt-out requests are honored within 10 business days”
- “opt-out lists … are only used for compliance purposes”
Many other countries have anti-spamming laws that contain similar requirements.
6. Call-to-action/engagement question.
If your newsletter is simply talking “at” its readers, it will not be as effective as it could be. While it is great to offer useful information or entertaining anecdotes, think about what you would like your newsletter readers to do after they finish reading. Do you want them to buy your book? Offer feedback on one of your proposed new services? Is there a question you can ask based on the newsletter’s theme that will encourage them to share their own thoughts with you via social media?
Whether your newsletters are quarterly, monthly, or weekly, the above tips will help you make them more effective at connecting with your subscribers.