26 Ways To Spruce Up Your Newsletter






If you’ve been publishing for a while, your
newsletter content mix may be static. Maybe each issue includes
the same tired content: one press release, one “Top Ten Tips”
article, and one “News From Headquarters” feature. Or maybe
your newsletter is still relatively new, but in the hectic days
of launching it you concentrated on building your subscriber
list and graphic design, not content. If so, now is the time to
take a hard look at your newsletter content.

Maybe your newsletter content has been “same old, same
old” because you haven’t really thought about the range of
information your subscribers might like or new formats for
presenting information. If your in-house experts have been the
source of information, maybe a guest editor would add spice. Or
perhaps presenting information in the form of a case study would
enliven dull data or make the theoretical more practical.

What else could you include in your
newsletter? Here’s a list of 26 content ideas to get you
started.

  1. Editorial. Subscribers
    welcome columns written by an in-house or industry
    expert.
  2. Case study. Readers love real-life how-to’s that
    they can apply to their own business. Case studies provide
    valuable specifics: How much did it cost? What problems did
    they encounter? What was the ROI?
  3. Photographs.Don’t forget that all content doesn’t have to be text. Choose
    photos that are worth a thousand words. If you are using
    “people” photos, a close-up of a speaker works better than a
    wide-angle shot of a roomful of attendees.
  4. Product review.
    Readers will appreciate your informed opinion and
    unbiased reviews of everything from software to computer
    equipment to packing materials.
  5. Interview with an
    expert.
    Spend 15 minutes talking to an expert and you’ll
    come up with a heap of valuable information and insights you can
    write up for one or even two newsletter
    articles.
  6. Profile. Write about a
    subscriber or a partner in each issue of your newsletter.
    Profiles enable your subscribers to connect with your company on
    a personal level.
  7. Behind-the-scenes spotlight.
    Give your subscribers a behind-the-scenes look at the people
    responsible for your latest product. Or how about explaining
    your company’s fulfillment or manufacturing
    process?
  8. Advice column. Write a “Dear Abby” column, with an
    expert who solves a subscriber’s problem. Use actual questions
    from subscribers. If necessary, get the column started with a
    question you are often asked.
  9. Resource list.
    Let subscribers know about useful websites, white papers,
    books, or training opportunities.
  10. Tales from the
    trenches.
    Publish reader anecdotes about real-life
    events, such as convincing a skeptical client to sign a contract
    or staffing a nursing home during a flu epidemic.

 

  • “Winner’s circle.” Recognize the success of a
    subscriber, a partner, or someone in your industry or
    community.
  • How-to’s. Give easy-to-follow
    instructions for completing a task, such as writing a marketing
    e-mail, or a project such as purchasing a content management
    system.
  • Account-specific information. If your subscribers
    can “self-serve” at your web site, let them know of any system
    enhancements: “Did you know you can now track your order
    online?”
  • Instant information. Provide easily downloadable
    information: a white paper, a PowerPoint presentation, a
    demo.
  • Calendar of events. Include your speaking
    engagements, conference presentations, and product demos on your
    calendar as well as other events of interest to your
    subscribers.
  • Conference coverage. Report
    on noteworthy conference sessions, keynote speakers, and any
    goodies you received.
  • Networking. Invite your
    subscribers to respond to blog posts, attend real or online
    meetings, or join discussion groups.
  • Legal update.
    Let your subscribers know about any changes in laws or
    regulations that affect them.
  • Time-sensitive
    reminders.
    Tell subscribers about important deadlines
    for grant applications or proposals, etc.
  • Survey. Ask
    subscribers to participate in a survey or poll, then publish and
    interpret the survey results in the next
    issue
  • Coupon. Give subscribers a printable coupon for a
    product, service, or consulting session.
  • Industry update. 

    Post an industry-related news feed on your site to
    provide breaking news.

  • Trendspotting. Give
    subscribers a heads-up on new trends that will affect their
    business or lifestyle.
  • Giveaway or sweepstake. Offer
    a premium for responding, subscribing, or purchasing something
    from you. Give away a book, a special report, a digital camera,
    or another gift.
  • Testimonial. Share the praise
    your customers shower on your company. Not only will you build
    business, you’ll help subscribers understand all the ways they
    might work with you.
  • Successful project feature.
    Write a short summary of a current project that went
    well. Tell what you accomplished and how you did
    it.

 

 

This
list will get you thinking about your newsletter content in a new
way. No doubt your newsletter team will come up with other
content ideas. But beware! Perhaps novelist John Steinbeck was
thinking of ideas for newsletter content when he said: “Ideas are
like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and
pretty soon you have a dozen.”

(c) E-WRITE, 2004.

Marilynne Rudick and Leslie O’Flahavan are partners in E-WRITE, a training and consulting company that specializes in writing for online readers. Rudick and O’Flahavan are authors of Clear, Correct, Concise E-Mail: A Writing Workbook for Customer Service Agents.