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Newsletters 101 – Back to the Basics

Newsletter Best PracticesBy Barbara Pfeiffer, The Partner Marketing Group

Years ago, almost all the marketing training and webinars I conducted had some PowerPoint slides about newsletters. Mostly about how bad so many were and how ineffective they were for nurture and lead generation activities. Fast forward at least 6 or 7 years and sad to say, I am still using the same slides. So with that in mind I thought a back to basics post with a few newsletter best practices was in order.

1. Do you really need a Newsletter?

There are a few good reasons to have a newsletter, including:

  • giving people something to sign up for (to help build your contact list)
  • nurturing your prospects (so you can stay top of mind)
  • nurturing your customers (also so you can stay top of mind)

However, that doesn’t mean you HAVE to have a newsletter. If you are accomplishing these goals in other ways, then you may not need a newsletter.  Assuming you do need one, and you know what you are trying to achieve, you’re one step closer to building a better newsletter. And here’s the first caveat – one size does not fit all. If your goals are “all of the above,” then that’s going to require three different newsletters (maybe more). Which brings us to the second – and most important – point.

2. Keep it relevant.

Regardless of your goals, you need to send your subscribers information they actually want and need. If you don’t, prospects will unsubscribe and customers will delete it without reading. So, what do they want or need? Typically, information that helps them do their job better and keeps them up to date on trends that are relevant to their industry (or role). If your newsletter is a litany of product updates, news about your company, and announcements about your upcoming events, it’s less likely to get read. (Although some version of this COULD work for your customer base).

That brings us to the final point and what is probably the biggest reason for all the bad newsletters out there – TIME.

3. Keep it simple.

Creating two newsletters (one for prospects and one for customers) is tough enough. If you have to start doing it by industry or by role, it can be overwhelming. So what do you do? Begin by keeping it simple. Hopefully, you’re blogging regularly and creating blogs for your different target markets. If so – you’re halfway there. Just use a blog post as the feature article in each month’s newsletter (insert a few lines or a synopsis). Build on that with content you’ve curated from around the web. This is much easier than trying to create all new content every month and most readers WILL value the time you took to find the few thought leadership articles or pieces they may have missed.

Of course, if using an approach like this is too challenging, maybe you have too many targets and you’ll need to prioritize. Because ultimately, if people don’t read it, it’s not worth doing.

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