6 Tips for Creating an Editorial Newsletter that Subscribers Will Actually Read
Do you know what an ‘infovore’ is? It’s not a dance craze, new gadget, or teenage slang. It’s a word that describes your subscribers’ thirst for information. They feast on a steady diet of content, and in today’s digital age, it’s being delivered via an email newsletter.
A growing number of people, from college students to top executives, turn to email newsletters to get a regular dose of information. In fact, 94% of top executives rely on email newsletters to stay informed.
With so many people reading email newsletters, it begs the question, ‘How do you create an editorial newsletter that subscribers will actually read?’ Fortunately, we’ve got the answers. Here are six tips to create a must-read editorial newsletter:
Content and design tips
Let’s start with the look, layout, and content that you should include in your newsletter.
1. Create content for the mobile reader
The reason email newsletters are experiencing resurgence likely coincides with the growth of smartphone use. Take a look at smartphone phone usage by age, as researched by Nielsen. If you’re between the ages of 18–65, the odds of owning a smartphone are pretty high.
Those same smartphone-savvy consumers are using their devices to read emails. More than half of all emails—including email newsletters—are now opened on a mobile device, according to Litmus.
Given this information, if you’re going to send a newsletter it should look great on any mobile device. Fortunately, email service providers like Campaign Monitor offer responsive newsletter templates, which means your newsletter adapts to any screen size.
A mobile-friendly template is just the start. You need to make content choices with a small screen in mind, like:
- Keep text to a minimum
- Use appealing images
- Write snappy, short headlines
Fashion Magazine, a Campaign Monitor customer, uses this mobile-ready template for its newsletter. Note the focus on visuals over text. When these images are combined with attention-grabbing headlines, it’s hard for subscribers not to click.
2. Add a personal touch
In a digital world where everything feels automated, adding a personal touch to a newsletter can captivate an audience.
Plus, there are gobs of research that show how effective personalized emails are. For example, transaction rates are six times higher with personalized emails compared to generic email blasts, according to Experian.
There are a lot of ways to include a personal touch in your newsletter. Campaign Monitor customers can:
- Add a subscriber’s first name to the subject line or message [See how it works]
- Segment contacts by interest or behavior and create specialized emails for each group [See how it works]
- Use dynamic content to change blocks on your newsletter content based on the subscriber receiving it [See how it works]
You can also draw on traditional personalization techniques, like adding a letter from the editor. Apartment Therapy, another Campaign Monitor customer, does just that. A letter introduces subscribers to the primary piece of content. Take a look:
The idea draws on the conventional handwritten letters that marketers used to send as a way to personalize sales.
3. Tell amazing stories
There’s nothing like a good story to draw readers in. Every subscriber is curious, and if you tell a story with both written word and images, you’ll have subscribers (virtually) lining up to read your newsletter.
UNICEF does a great job with this. Rather than just asking for donations to help those in need, they show readers a person in need and tell their story. Take a look at the email below that shares Mirna’s bleak back-to-school experience.
The story, coupled with the smiling picture of Mirna, is all subscribers need to click on a call-to-action to donate.
To get subscribers to click on your newsletter content, you should make smart behind-the-scenes moves as well.
4. Let subscribers self-select content with a preference center
If you want to guarantee higher readership, let subscribers pick the content they receive. How? Set up a preference center. A preference center gives subscribers the chance to select what type of content they want, how often they want emails, and what products they’d like to learn more about.
Campaign Monitor Customer Penguin Random House asks subscribers to select the kinds of books they like through a preference center.
Every month, Penguin Random House sends out a newsletter that offers a compilation of books that fit the subscriber’s pre-selected preferences. In May, for example, a subscriber who likes ‘Best Sellers’ and ‘Mystery & Suspense’ received this email.
Since the book suggestions are based on actual preferences, subscribers are more likely to open and click on the content inside.
5. Curate, don’t automate
Email newsletters are either curated or automated. To curate, you hand-select content and create each piece with a unique tone that’s meant to set your newsletter apart.
Meanwhile, automated email newsletters fill in content blocks with articles that ‘smart technology’ assumes the reader will enjoy based on their website behaviors or past purchases.
While automation has its perks, the best way to build an audience is through uniquely different content. In other words, curated content is the way to go.
BuzzFeed sends a curated newsletter to parents. You can tell by reading the headlines that each piece of content has a unique BuzzFeed voice.
6. Monitor your metrics
As you create email newsletters, you should keep an eye on your engagement rates. After every send, take a look at your open and click rates, and see which articles are resonating most with your readers. Keep a running list of high-achieving content. Use the list to inspire more ideas like it.
Over time, you might notice that your customers respond to “Listicles,” or numbered titles like “5 Tips to Lower Your Grocery Bill,” or maybe your readers tend to read shorter pieces. You’ll start to notice some trends that you can use in the content-creation process.
Of course, if you’re not happy with the metrics you see, make changes. Here are some metric-boosting tips:
If open rates are low:
- A/B test different subject lines
- Personalize the subject line
- Make sure the ‘from name’ is identifiable and professional
If click rates are low:
- Improve your headlines
- Focus on compelling imagery
- Make sure the CTA stands out
- Make sure your layout is crisp and clear
Email newsletters are a great way to engage subscribers and provide value that goes beyond a solid product and strong customer service. The next time you create a newsletter, use these six tips to guide your decision-making process and send content that subscribers simply can’t ignore.
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