Not long ago, I outlined a 5-step strategy that would help you create an email newsletter that will gather and convert leads.
However, many business owners I speak to understand the benefits of regular communication with their customers but they just can’t seem to get round to it.
I completely understand – people are busy.
But on top of running a business there’s another issue holding them back. They often say that they find it hard to come up with topics to write about when there’s no news to share.
They think that they haven’t got anything interesting or newsworthy to talk about and they’re worried that their customers will think that they’re, well, boring.
So they keep putting it off or they have an inconsistent newsletter that ultimately won’t get read by the same readers they’re working so hard for.
But guess what? You don’t have to be an amazing journalist or copywriter to come up with a newsletter that’s fun and engaging.
And to help you, we’ve got 10 great ideas for your company’s newsletter when you haven’t got any news. We’ve also got a few points to avoid too, to keep you on the straight and narrow.
Does that sound like a plan?
Great. Let’s get started.
What You Should Include in Your Newsletter
Before we look at them, let’s just run through a few basics of what to include when you email your newsletter.
1. A Great Title/Subject
The title of your newsletter – which should also be on the email subject line – is one of the most important aspects of any email. It’s what gets your subscribers to open your emails. For this reason, ensure that the subject is fun and intriguing.
I don’t mean “NEWS! NEWS!! NEWS!!!” I don’t mean “Newsletter DD/MM/YYY” either.
The email subject should be short. Owing to the wide mobile phone usage you should use at most 50 characters so the entire subject line can easily be viewed even on mobile.
You should also ensure that you use a consistent sender’s name to ensure familiarity with the readers.
2. A Call-To-Action
Besides offering valuable information to your readers, you should also use the platform to direct the readers towards a specific goal This is known as a Call To Action (CTA). This could be signing up for a discount plan or just looking at more related content.
The CTA should be simple and specific. It should be more “do this” rather than “do this then that and don’t forget to do this either”.
You should also be direct about what you’re asking of your audience.
If you’ve noticed, most of the emails you get have a CTA urging you to take immediate action. That’s because it works. Incorporate that in your newsletters too.
Your CTA should also stand out in the email. Use a noticeable colour and ensure that, depending on the device the reader is using, the CTA is above the fold.
3. Links to Social Profiles
Don’t treat email marketing as an isolated strategy. You can and should use it to also connect with your subscribers on social media.
You should always make sure that your newsletter features social buttons.
Apart from asking your subscribers to follow you on social media, you should also make it easy for them to share your content across different social media platforms.
4. A High-Quality Image
People will always see visuals before text. Therefore, using an eye-catching image on your newsletter not only directs attention to it but also encourages the subscribers to read the text content.
The image you use should be high-quality. Blurred images are not eye-catching…at all.
You should also ensure that the image is relevant to the overall message you want to convey in the email.
Wondering how many images you need to use in a single newsletter and where to place them? This post is for you.
Newsletter Ideas When You Haven’t Got Any News
OK, so now you understand how to structure your Newsletter, but what about the content?
Let’s face it, maintaining a constant stream of great ideas for a newsletter isn’t an easy job. But it’s just about to get a lot easier with the following 10 ideas:
1. Customer Spotlight
You might not believe this but your customers want to know about your other customers. They want to know about how your products have helped others before.
Do you have a customer that’s particularly impressed by your product? Why not let them tell their story in just a few words and share it on your newsletter?
Similarly, you can pull together a couple of testimonials from your customers and send them in a well-laid out newsletter.
For Inspiration, have a look at how Help Scout carried out their own project, Customer Spotlights, what they got right, what they didn’t do so well in and the lessons learned.
2. Employee/Staff Spotlight
Do you have an exceptional member in your team? Or maybe an employee did something great recently?
You can show them off to your subscribers by writing a short article about them and sharing it with your email list.
You can also conduct an interview where you ask the employee questions that help the customers get to know them better. For instance, you could ask questions like how long they have worked at your company, what made them pick your company the first place and what motivates them to continue working there.
See one of Idea Grove’s posts on their Employee Spotlight Series.
Not only will you appreciate them in a big way, but you’ll also get to humanize your company.
You can also make this regular and with time you can encourage customers to vote for their favourite employees for a chance to be featured on the spotlight.
3. Human Interest Stories
A human interest story is a feature story that focuses on an individual or animal. It’s usually written in a way that brings about human emotions such as sympathy or general interest.
You could write a story about historical events related to your company or someone that was instrumental in starting your company.
Between you and your customer, who’s the expert?
Why you, of course!
So why not draw on what you know to offer tips on a range of subjects in the industry and even narrow down to your own company.
You can offer tips on product selection, how to use a certain product, how to fix everyday issues, how to prevent stuff from happening, etc..
There are loads of angles you can use here so you’ve got a never ending stream of interesting content.
5. Hints on Upcoming Products
Do you have any upcoming products or updates to existing products?
You can use your newsletter as a platform to ‘leak’ the information to your subscribers. You can also make it so that your subscribers get to know first whenever you have a product on the way.
6. Highlight on Upcoming Local Events
Your newsletter could also serve as a resource on upcoming local events that your audience may be interested in.
Maybe you can act as a calendar of what’s on. Support these events in social media and on your blog and include any events in your email list so that they’re aware and can promote your content and newsletter too.
How long has it been since you organised a contest?
You can organise a contest where the winner gets a free or extended trial of a product, a discount, product demo, etc.
You can announce the contest on your blog and social media but make it exclusive to your email list to encourage new subscribers.
Contests are also one of the best ways to get people sharing your content on social media and there are even contest tools you can use to help you.
8. Questions & Answers
Encourage your readers to ask you questions via email and answer them on upcoming newsletters. This can go on for a long time.
9. Blog Excerpts
If you’ve been creating great content, you can use your newsletter to share excerpts and link back to the original posts.
Don’t think you’re on your own.
Just like newspapers use columns to flavour their news with external experience, you can consider bringing an employee on to your newsletter where they can post regularly on a specific subject – one they’re really good at.
Another great option is to have an ‘Expert Corner’ where you invite other local (non competing) complementary businesses to contribute. This has the double advantage that they will want to promote this to their customers and social media followers too.
What Not To Include in Your Newsletter
Just like there’s a lot to say in your company newsletter, there’s a ton of stuff that should never appear there.
For instance, I’ve seen accountants try to explain complicated tax issues in a language that has me looking up every word in the dictionary and is stuffed full of boring regulatory information and I’m thinking, “Please, I just wanted to know a little about tax rebates and if I can get one before Christmas.”
In trying to impress your readership – or purely because you’re used to that kind of language – you might find yourself putting of your readers.
Sure, certain kinds of information might be impressive to your peers. But to your customer who’s been putting off “learn basic programming” for three years, the technical aspects of your new improved software doesn’t mean much. They just want to know if the software solves their problem.
Your newsletter is also not a sales pitch. Unless it’s the right time, stick to providing helpful information.
Also, don’t include spelling and syntax errors. This is the fastest way to getting booted out of your audience’s inbox.
If you get mad when people text you and use “u and i” instead of “you and I”; there’s no way you’re going to listen to a company that uses “their” in place of “there”.
You just need to get in the habit of proofreading to check for errors and you’ll keep your subscribers happy for longer.
So, how hard is it to remain consistent with your email newsletter?
Sure, sometimes you’ll feel like there’s nothing to write about. But if there’s one thing you can learn from the post, it’s that most of the time all it takes to come up with great email content is to simply look around.
And the best thing about these ideas? They don’t have to take all of your time.
So are you ready to bounce back to your newsletter keep it consistent? Any other ideas you’re considering apart from the ones covered above? Why not tell us about them in the comments?