Should You Start An Email Newsletter?

email newsletter ideas
Photo: Rachel Voorhees via Flickr

Remember back when newsletters were pieces of paper that came in your actual mailbox? Of course you don’t, that was practically forever ago. Nowadays, it’s all about the email newsletter — and everyone from your Apple to your local cupcake shop has one. With their clever names, like the Ace Hotel’s “A-List,”  and timely, useful information, newsletters have become a popular marketing platform for big brands, small businesses, and even individuals who want to go beyond fickle social media to reach their audience. But is an email newsletter right for you?

Speaker and creative coach Jeff Goins says it probably is.

At first, Jeff explains, “I didn’t really understand the importance of an email newsletter. I thought it was one more thing that I had to do.” But once he started a blog and began setting goals for himself — to gain more readers, to publish a book — he realized that an email newsletter was more than just a hassle — it was an asset. And whatever your own personal goals, delivering your message into the inboxes of your engaged audience can help further them.

“I think email is the most important way to communicate with your audience, build your business, and to get people to trust you.”

Because unlike social media marketing, email is both personal and direct. It goes right into the inbox of your subscribers, so your message’s reach is guaranteed. Even if people don’t open your newsletter, you know they got it; on social media, it can be hard to measure how much of your audience is reached by your information, and even harder to grown that number when platforms like Facebook actively work to decrease it.

However, if do you decide to launch an email newsletter, you have to make sure the content is relevant, compelling, and — perhaps most importantly — not irritating to your audience.

Best-selling author John Jantsch recommends following email best-practices to ensure your newsletter does what you want it to do: Tell your story, keep your audience informed, and make them feel like you’re a trustworthy person or company. To do this, you’ll want to ensure that the “From” line is either in your name, or the name of your business — whichever you think your audience is expecting — and that the subject line is very clearly labeled.

“You want to be welcomed in their email inbox…so make sure you give them all the clues,” John says.

Another important element of your email marketing is the appearance of your newsletter, and how easy it is for you to put together. For that, there are dozens of email newsletter clients that make the process simple, and the final outcome attractive. Email marketing providers like MailChipEmma, and Tiny Letter can make the job of assembling an email newsletter easy enough that it doesn’t feel like a burden, and ensure that the end result is a well-designed message for your subscribers. Or for the more advanced designer, you can use InDesign to create something more layered.

It’s also key that you don’t skate over the content of your email. What do your subscribers want to see? Links to your recent blog posts? Information about upcoming sales and discounts? Curated content that you found and want to share with them? Or, maybe you want to only send your emails quarterly, and theme them based on the seasons, the business calendar, or what’s important in your industry. Deciding on an appropriate voice, tone, and content of your email ahead of time will help give you a clear directive when you sit down to compile the newsletter’s various parts.

But, says John, all of these elements — the content, the logistics — are worth figuring out and playing with, because email marketing really is that important.

“Even though you’ll have people out there who have suggested that it’s waning,” John explains, “I can tell you it’s one of the greatest assets I own. It’s primarily how we convert clients. It’s primarily how we do business.”

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Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.