Engagement Strategy: Newsletters

by Trish

I’ve convinced a few people to start an email newsletter (eZine, if you will) in the past few months.

I see a lot of good newsletters and I see a lot of bad newsletters.

It’s all about what your reader needs and desires from you.

But how do you know what they need and desire?

You try one thing and then you try another thing.

Here’s what I see as the big mistakes when publishing a newsletter.

1. A long newsletter never takes a break and the author never tests a short (less than 500 words newsletter issue). How will that author ever know which length works best without some testing? I would alternate short (less than 500 words) and long (over 500 words) and see what gets the most open rates and most click-through rates. (You do link to your site and blog and books from your newsletters, right? You should!)

2. A newsletter with images or in html never tests in plain text. I see a ton of newsletters coming through again and again and they include giant pictures and they are all in html. What if your readers want plain text and how would you know if that affects your open and click-through rates? I would test it. Most reliable email newsletter programs include the ability to send plain text and html issues at the same time. See what your audience resonates with the most.

3. The topic of a newsletter sometimes comes through as hit and miss. Sometimes with these long and winding theorizing newsletters about some cultural issue, I wonder if the author really intended to talk about that to their audience. Is that really what an audience wants to hear? What if the author told a story to bring that cultural issue into the personal zone? What if that author engaged us so thoroughly with a story that we couldn’t wait to get the next issue? Dickens knew how to do this. I think our culture can still handle a Dickens author. People would press in on the newspaper office to get the next installment of a Dickens story. Engage us!

4. No inbound links to an author’s blog or books or website. I’m the first to make this mistake, just because I forget, but you should be giving avenues for any reader to find you quickly and easily. Your Twitter, your Facebook, your blog(s), and any social media tool you’re on. We want readers to jump into the engagement they choose to get to know you. Anytime we decide for our readers that one social tool is better than another, we’re not listening to our audience. Unless you test.

So, go, get started! Next up, we’ll be talking to authors who do newsletters and how they figured out the format and topic that their audience most wanted to see in each issue. Questions?


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