A newsletter can be an effective way to communicate with your readers, whether they are clients, customers or donors. Newsletters work best when…
Periodic interaction is sufficient. With all the information that’s being thrown at each of us daily, periodic information can be a blessing. However, if your business and audience needs constant interaction or updated content, then audio, video and social media are better choices.
The audience has a lot in common. It’s also easier to write for highly targeted audiences.
You’re covering a narrow field of interest.
You give readers information they can use or are interested in. Sounds obvious but you’d be surprised at how often a poorly-planned newsletter doesn’t meet this criterion.
You’re able to give readers inside information and a personal touch. Readers should feel like the editor is talking with them personally. Include the editor’s name, and easy ways to reach him/her. If several people contribute to the newsletter, make sure one editor converts the stories to the same writing style and voice.
They’re short and timely. Write so that the newsletter can be read in a few moments. Readers should be able to scan the headlines and subheads to get the gist of a story, and then continue with the body copy if they’re really interested. Make sure the content happened recently and not months ago — for this reason, a quarterly publication schedule is the maximum time period recommended.
One last thing – should the newsletter be print or electronic? Good question. The last 10 years have seen a sea change in how people get information, with much of it coming online, and increasingly via mobile phones. My feeling is that you have to know your readers and how they like to interact with you. Even if they say “online,” research what they actually do. I suggest designing your newsletter so that it can function as a printed piece and also be sent electronically (or available on your website, optimized for download). A note about paper size: it should be readable when printed on an 8-1/2 x 11 inch page — keep in mind that many people let their printers default to print PDFs at a scaled down size.
I designed this marketing newsletter postcard for a commercial realtor. The smaller size means it can be read very quickly. The information is useful and timely, and the tone is personal. Sent six times per year, it served as a way to keep in touch and build business with existing and potential clients.
(Next: What is the best type of newsletter for your organization?)
© 2011. All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced without written consent from the author, Moira Hill.