Email has been in widespread use for about 30 years now. During this time, it has become both a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, email has made it easy to communicate in writing with anyone, anywhere and at any time.
But on the negative side, most people suffer from email overload. Your inbox might be crammed with more messages than you can ever hope to read. And that’s not even counting all the junk email and spam you have to wade through just to get to what you actually want to read.
Delivering Real Value
This email overload makes successful email marketing more challenging than ever. If you want people to read your e-newsletter, you have to create compelling, well-written articles that educate readers and deliver real value.
Thinly (and sometimes not-so-thinly) veiled marketing emails disguised as value-added articles just aren’t going to cut it anymore. Here are 6 tips to help you write great e-newsletter articles.
1. Spend plenty of time upfront on topic generation. Great e-newsletter articles start with great topics. There are no shortcuts here — you have to spend time brainstorming timely topics that will be of interest to your readers.
Make a point of staying on top of current trends and news in your industry. I write mostly about business and finance, so I have a subscription to The Wall Street Journal.There are other niche industries that I also cover, like automobile dealerships, so I follow websites and publications devoted to this industry as well.
2. Give yourself plenty of time to write. Like making fine wine, writing great articles takes time. You can’t expect to write a quality newsletter article if you put off writing until the day you’re scheduled to publish.
Try to block out as much time as you think it will take to write a first draft, even if it’s an entire day. Then set it aside for at least a day or two and come back to it for editing and maybe even rewriting before you publish.
3. Write clearly and plainly. Too many e-newsletter articles I read are chocked full of confusing technical jargon and wordy mumbo-jumbo. They also use corny business buzzwords and phrases like “best practices,” “core competency” and “synergies.” Ugh … just typing that was painful!
Remember: The goal of your article isn’t to impress readers with how smart you are. Rather, it’s to educate and inform them about something they have a genuine interest in.
4. Get the grammar and punctuation right. There are no excuses for basic grammar, punctuation and typographical errors in your newsletter articles. Nothing screams “Unprofessional!” more than an e-newsletter littered with these kinds of mistakes.
If you aren’t good at grammar and punctuation, hire somebody who is to edit and proofread your articles for you. This will be money well spent, I promise you.
5. Don’t be hard sell. This is the hardest part of e-newsletter article writing for many marketers. Yes, making sales is the ultimate goal of publishing an e-newsletter. But your articles should be interesting and informative, not sales-driven.
This is often referred to as “drip” marketing. Like dripping water on a stone, your e-newsletter will yield qualified leads over time if you consistently deliver valuable information and don’t make your articles too hard sell.
6. Don’t be afraid to take a position. Sports-talk radio host Jim Rome used to tell callers, “Have a take, do not suck.” I think this also applies to newsletter article writing.
Many organizations won’t take a stand on topics or issues because they’re afraid of “offending” somebody who believes differently. Assuming we’re not talking about sensitive political, religious or similar topics, I think it’s better to assume and defend a position. Everybody probably won’t agree with you — which is a good thing!
A Final Checklist
Before you send out your next e-newsletter, run your article through this quick checklist:
- Is the topic interesting and relevant?
- Have you used clear and concise language instead of industry jargon and buzzwords?
- Are there any grammatical, punctuation or typographical errors?
- Is the article too salesy or self-serving?
- If you hadn’t written the article yourself, would you still want to read it?
Don’t hit the “send” button until your article passes each one of these tests. The extra time and effort will be worth it — I promise!