When done right, email newsletters are an effective way to connect with your audience and encourage engagement. They're particularly useful for nonprofits as a way to keep audiences up-to-date on the organization's ongoing efforts and progress. Read on for tips on writing an excellent email newsletter.
1. Pick a captivating subject line
The subject line of your email newsletter can make or break its success. It's what guides the recipient's split second decision to click through or click 'delete'. Make it relevant to the rest of the copy - tease to your main story, or raise a question that the reader will have to click through to find the answer to.
Avoid words, phrases and punctuation that might trigger spam filters, such as exclamation marks, all capital letters and words like 'free', 'cash' and 'will help.'
2. Start with a call to action
While it's common to include a call to action at the end of a blog post, video or print newsletter, busy email audiences needs to know why the content is worth reading before they even start. At the beginning of your email, tease your main story and encourage your audience to continue reading to find out more.
3. Use clear, concise subheadings
Organize the copy by breaking it up with simple, direct subheadings. This makes the text less ominous to busy email users who don't have time to read every single word. Make it easy for your audience to get the information with only a cursory scan.
4. Write for your unique audience
The key to effective copywriting in any context is knowing your audience and writing specifically for them. This is especially relevant for email newsletters, as they are more direct and exclusive than broader marketing content. Get to know your audience and use a tone that suits them. Avoid industry jargon. Make sure any puns, jokes and news references are likely to be understood by your readers. Choose appropriate vocabulary and make statements your audience can relate to.
5. Keep it newsworthy
Before all else, an email newsletter should achieve its most basic purpose - to share news. Though you may benefit from a newsletter with increased traffic, sales and engagement, don't forget that its primary aim is to update your audience with new information. A newsletter without any news is just an advertisement, something that nobody wants cluttering their inbox.
6. Make it snappy
While getting someone to click on the email is the first hurdle, getting them to actually read it is the next. Even with subheadings, large chunks of text and long, meandering sentences are a guaranteed way to lose a reader's interest. Instead, stick to short paragraphs and brief sentences. Get your point across within the first couple sentences of each paragraph. Say only what's necessary. Keep the conversation moving by making every word count.
7. Give the option to unsubscribe
A newsletter is only effective when it's seen by people who actually want to read it. For email users, unwanted newsletters are equivalent to spam. Give readers the option to opt out by including an 'unsubscribe' link within the email. This helps ensure that the people in your contact list are genuinely interested in what you have to say.
8. Link to relevant content
Direct readers from the newsletter to your website by linking to related content on your blog or on a bespoke landing page. This helps drive more traffic to your site and gives interested readers the opportunity to learn more about a particular topic. Include email newsletters as part of your overarching content strategy to ensure there's plenty of supporting content available to link to.
9. Emphasize the community aspect
For small businesses and nonprofits, an email newsletter is also a community newsletter. Use it like you would a neighborhood bulletin board - to share information on how to get involved in upcoming events, to announce any achievements by community members and to support other, related communities. Personalize the content by featuring individual members of your community as much as possible. Make your readers feel like they belong.
10. Make it social
Encourage readers to get in touch with you via social media. Link to your Facebook, Twitter and other social profiles in every email and invite them to share their thoughts on the topics you've written about.
Design also plays a large role in the overall effectiveness of an email newsletter - but that's for another blog post, another day. Stay tuned!