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
- Editorial. Subscribers
welcome columns written by an in-house or industry
- 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?
- 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.
- Product review.
Readers will appreciate your informed opinion and
unbiased reviews of everything from software to computer
equipment to packing materials.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Resource list.
Let subscribers know about useful websites, white papers,
books, or training opportunities.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Instant information. Provide easily downloadable
information: a white paper, a PowerPoint presentation, a
- Calendar of events. Include your speaking
engagements, conference presentations, and product demos on your
calendar as well as other events of interest to your
- 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.
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
- 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
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.