Maybe you’re considering starting a newsletter (either personally or for your business), or perhaps you already have one. Either way, if you want to know how to make your newsletter stand out, you have come to the right place.
With over a decade of experience writing captivating, engaging newsletters, we know a few things about optimizing your content. We also know where lots of people go wrong when writing their newsletters.
So, without further ado, here’s how to make your newsletter stand out (in a good way).
Common Newsletter Mistakes
Before explaining how to make your newsletter stand out through great content, we must first explain the common mistakes people make. Setting yourself apart will be hard if you fall into these common traps, and you will struggle greatly to distinguish your newsletter as valuable content.
Let’s start with common content-based mistakes. Note: Many of these tips are specific to business newsletters, which are our specialty, but they can also be very relevant if you are interested in doing a personal newsletter.
- Your content is boring. This should be self-explanatory, but many people don’t realize their newsletter content is boring. One great way to check if your content is boring is to ask yourself, “Would I take the time to read this?” Then ask 3–4 friends from different backgrounds and listen to their thoughts. If you and your friends wouldn’t read it, your audience won’t either.
- Your content is overly specific. Many business owners think every piece of content in their newsletter needs to be directly related to their industry. It does not. Including recipes, fun advice columns, and other generic content is a great way to get readers interested in your newsletter without creating industry-specific content.
- Your content is gross. We have seen this before with some of our medical clients (especially dental clients). Sometimes, they fill their newsletters with endless articles about tooth decay, root canals, and cavities and choose to include pictures! Not only is that content disgusting, but your clients are also less likely to return to your office.
- Your content doesn’t resonate with your audience. You may have heard, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” This can also be true of content; some might resonate with some people but not others. That’s why it’s essential to tailor your content to fit the needs of your specific audience.
- Your content is impersonal. Nobody wants to feel like they are reading a newsletter from a robot. If your goal is to build stronger relationships with your readers, you must ensure that at least some of it sounds like a real person wrote it (preferably you).
- Your content is repetitive. Variety is the spice of life. That’s why it’s important to always consider what new topics your readers will enjoy and what new spins you can put on old topics. It’s also important to keep track of what you have already covered to ensure that you don’t cover the same topics too often.
- Your content isn’t timely. If you’re going to cover a current hot topic in your newsletter, it’s important to deliver that message promptly. If you wait too long, your content could become old news; the story might have been covered so many times that clients don’t want to read it.
- You have copycat content. Copying (or plagiarizing) content from other companies or websites word-for-word is obviously a “no-no.” While many of your readers will not know your content is plagiarized at first glance, you’re still doing yourself a disservice. Plagiarized content will always feel disjointed and inauthentic to the reader. You can also face serious legal consequences if other businesses find you benefitting from their content without permission.
But content mistakes aren’t the only thing you need to worry about when putting together your newsletter. You also have to consider the first impression your design makes.
- Your content lacks graphics. Sometimes, when business owners put together their own newsletters, they know they lack the necessary skills to create an attractive design. Their solution is to avoid graphics and deliver a giant wall of text broken up with spaces to their audience. Trust us when we say this is one of the surest ways to get your print newsletters thrown in the garbage and your email newsletters sent to spam. At that point, it would be better not to send a newsletter at all.
- Your graphics are poorly designed. When some business owners attempt to create their own newsletters, they have no eye for design or previous experience. As a result, their newsletters often look unattractive and unappealing.
- The layout of your newsletter is confusing. The layout of your newsletter is very important. If it’s too confusing, your readers won’t be able to follow where your content begins and ends. They will likely get frustrated and throw your newsletters out.
But sometimes, the mistakes people make with their newsletter have nothing to do with the newsletter itself. Sometimes, the issue comes from poor practices during the distribution process.
- You lack the proper distribution channels. When people decide to do their own newsletter, they often jump into it without considering how they will get it to their readers. They underestimate the cost of finding the proper distribution channels or are overwhelmed by the choices. This can lead to paralysis by analysis, which holds up the entire process.
- Your list is not up to date. Maybe you don’t even have a list because you haven’t been collecting data from your audience until now. If that’s the case, then there is no point in putting together content until you have that information. After all, great content is useless if you don’t have what you need to get it in front of the right people.
- You are inconsistent with your mailings. You will never see the full benefits of your newsletter if you send it out inconsistently. Instead of being viewed as a reliable source of valuable content, it will come across as a sporadic afterthought.
- Your list is not properly segmented. Segmentation is important to keep your messaging as individualized as possible. Without the proper information to ensure you send out the right messages to the right audience segments, you will always be at a disadvantage.
- You don’t respond to data. Even if you collect relevant data about your campaigns, it will not do you much good if you don’t act on it. Then you can’t improve your newsletter over time or track the results of your changes.
- You rely on one method for distribution. Research has shown that print and digital marketing are the most successful when used together. If you rely on one method to distribute your newsletter, you will never see the same results as you would with a multifaceted approach.
So, now that we have gone over common mistakes people make with their newsletters, how can you do better?
Know Your Audience.
Learning how to make your newsletter stand out from the crowd starts with catering your content to your audience.
Start by asking your potential readers what they would find helpful and what they would like to know about your business. Let them sample your content and get their feedback. Then plan your content according to their tastes.
Remember, every audience is different. Even though some content might work for certain audiences, it may be boring and dry to others. That’s why you must focus on your audience and what they want — not someone else’s.
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone.
Sometimes, creating great content requires getting out of your comfort zone. That will vary depending on your newsletter’s purpose and your readers’ tastes.
Maybe you should share your hobbies and interests with your audience. Are you an amateur photographer? Consider including some of your best shots in your newsletter. Do you breed show roses? Take a few pictures and include your best blooms.
Even if it’s uncomfortable, sharing personal details in your newsletter can be a great way to form lasting connections with your audience. They will appreciate the vulnerability and see you as more relatable. In our experience, those connections are extremely valuable if you want to give your newsletter the best chance of success.
It’s also really critical if you want to know how to make your newsletter stand out. After all, there is only one of you, which makes you an asset to your own business that cannot be copied or replicated.
Prioritize The Design.
As we previously discussed, design is essential if you want your newsletter to grab your readers’ attention. Set yourself up for success — starting with your design process.
Do you plan to design your newsletter before or after you write your copy? Who is going to review it? Do you have specific design standards? Is there a particular person or set of people responsible for the design of your newsletter?
These are essential questions to have answered before you even think about getting your newsletter’s written content together.
If you’re not equipped to design your newsletter, consider hiring a designer or a graphic design company to handle that aspect. While it might be more expensive than designing your newsletter in-house, outsourcing is a big time-saver. It will ensure you have a consistent, quality product.
If you insist on designing your newsletter, consider who is best equipped to handle that job at your business.
Maybe your secretary has a great eye for design, or your bookkeeper briefly went to art school. Those could be great design resources with the proper training. (Be sure to compensate them appropriately if you add extra tasks outside their normal job description.)
If you want to have complete control over the design of your newsletter and you have no background in graphic design, consider signing up for some classes. As always, practice makes perfect. Once you have your design together, get multiple opinions on the quality before you give your final approval.
Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Print.
If you’re thinking of distributing your newsletter solely by email, then we strongly recommend adding a print newsletter as well.
With unmatched deliverability and a unique charm that readers love, print is far from dead. Here are some of the key stats that show the power of print.
- Over half of U.S. residents say that receiving print mail is a “real pleasure” and look forward to receiving it.
- Over two-thirds of Americans believe print marketing is more personal than online marketing.
- 77% of millennials report that direct mail “grabs their attention,” and 80% respond to direct mail.
- Digital campaigns are 400% more efficacious when print is used alongside email.
- More than 8 in 10 readers trust print ads the most when making buying decisions.
- Print ads require one-fifth less mental energy to process than digital ads.
So, if you’re looking for a way to supercharge your newsletter and reach as many readers as possible, consider using print.
Consult The Pros.
Now that you know how to make your newsletter stand out from the crowd, it’s time to get a plan together. Whether this is your first time trying your hand at newsletters or you’ve been doing your newsletter for years, it never hurts to get expert advice.
Here at Newsletter Pro, we specialize in writing, designing, and distributing high-quality content. If you want expert advice from one of our Pros or are interested in outsourcing your newsletter, you can schedule a free, no-pressure strategy session here.
We hope this article was helpful to you wherever you are in your newsletter production journey. If you want to learn more about creating amazing newsletters, fill out the form below to download your free copy of our founder’s book, “The Ultimate Guide to Newsletters.”