5 Tips for Writing Email Newsletters People Want to Read

Mark Arnold

Want to start a fight in a group of marketers? Ask them about the effectiveness of emails, and specifically, email newsletters. Most of us have signed up for them for any number of reasons, just like most of us now click "mark as read" if not "delete" upon their arrival. But that doesn't have to be the case, because as we'll see shortly, there are secrets to writing email newsletters people want to read. And people reading your newsletters is a big deal, because when they read your email newsletters, you can begin and/or continue to establish your organization as a thought leader within your community and/or industry whose commentary, thoughts, and insights people will look forward to reading.

Some fan favorites here at On The Mark Strategies (in addition to The Marked for Success Minute, to which we're partial) include:

While blindly blasting emails to the entire world might make marketers cover their mouths and cast side-eyed looks in your general direction, we've seen an uptick in the effectiveness of well-done email newsletters that people actually want to read.

Let's take a look at what you can do to make your email newsletters fall into that category.

PEOPLE WANT TO READ EMAIL NEWSLETTERS THAT ARE SUPER TARGETED

Like we discussed just above, not all email newsletters are the dreadful things that many of us have encountered. In fact, there are many (like those mentioned above, for example) that are quite the opposite.

One thing that sets those and others apart is that many of them are incredibly targeted. They speak to a specific target market, and to that group alone. It's not a spray and pray approach by any stretch of the imagination.

[bctt tweet="Today's successful email newsletters are very targeted, and speak directly and exclusively to that target market. #emailnewsletters #emailmarketing #contentmarketing #contentcreation" username="mattmonge"]

quote from On The Mark Strategies about writing email newsletters that people read

Why does that matter?

Well, one pretty important thing is that targeted content lands very differently. It reads and feels like it's very specifically for the people reading it rather than simply some large, random audience.

There are specific references to target-audience-specific things. There's jargon. Lingo. Inside jokes, even. There's a common language and way of being that develops within a community like that that you simply don't get with a more general communication piece. It builds trust and rapport, which are necessary if you hope to see any sort of growth.

PEOPLE WANT TO READ EMAIL NEWSLETTERS THAT HAVE A UNIQUE BRAND PERSONALITY

You really can't overstate the importance of a unique brand personality, and this is certainly true in regards to email communications.

Sometimes, we see brands out in the broader business world make the mistake of coming up with a fun, interesting visual identity, and perhaps even a fun video campaign; only to have their consumer-facing emails still be cold, lifeless, and...well...boring. That's not a fully aligned brand personality. It's essentially a brand with at least two different personalities.

(As an aside, we know it's likely that one of two things has happened in the above situation. Either they've not gone through a comprehensive process, including working out their brand personality and attributes, or they've not done the work of fully aligning all the parts and pieces of their marketing and communications apparatus to the current/updated brand. It's a lot to think and work through, to be sure! If you find yourself stuck on something like that, give us a shout.)

PEOPLE WANT TO READ EMAIL NEWSLETTERS THAT HAVE A DISTINCT VOICE AND PERSPECTIVE

People are drawn to unique perspectives. They are inspired and entertained by voices that stand out in a crowd.

That's why it stands to reason that people want to read things that offer them insights they're not receiving elsewhere, in ways they're not receiving them.

We talked a bit more about the importance of this in another post: Make Your Content More Shareable With These 6 Steps.

screenshot of On The Mark Strategies blog post that shares examples relevant to how your organization can write email newsletters that people want to read

In that post, we discussed and provided examples of how brands have found success by doing one of two things. Either (1) the content they provide is distinct, interesting, and different from everything else out there; or (2) how they present the content is unique. It’s different, interesting, makes you do a double take, etc.

Your email newsletter is an opportunity for your readers to hear from you, and your brand's story is a unique competitive advantage no other brand can duplicate.

PEOPLE WANT TO READ EMAIL NEWSLETTERS THAT ARE HUMAN

Almost nothing will have folks searching for the Unsubscribe link faster than an email that reads and feels like yet another overly-corporate email.

Bill Lumbergh image and quote showing how to write email newsletters that people want to read

Why? Because unless they've been living under a rock, they've had their fill of all things overly corporate over the past, say, two or three decades. Thus the ongoing success and cultural ingraining of movies like the above-referenced Office Space. (Has anyone seen my stapler, btw?)

Inauthentic, template-driven communication tends to turn people off, whereas communication that is real, authentic, and human has a higher likelihood of resonating with folks.

Remember Gary V from earlier on in the post?

We think about him now within the context of entrepreneurialism, social media, and so on. But Gary V got his "break" by essentially being human within the world of wine tasting, a context within which he felt like there wasn't a lot of that going on. For the sake of time and space, we won't chase this particular rabbit, but check out the story of Wine Library TV and how it was a turning point in Gary V's story.

PEOPLE WANT TO READ EMAIL NEWSLETTERS THAT ARE WELL DESIGNED

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to email newsletter design, but there is certainly good design and bad design.

Some design makes things more difficult for the human mind to digest, and some design makes things easier.

Take this, from Austin Kleon's newsletter, for example.

austin kleon email newsletter people want to read example

He stays on-brand with his brand personality, you can hear his voice coming through ("Hey y'all..."), and the design is a vehicle allowing those things to take the forefront.

Kleon has developed — and I trust he'll forgive the clunky phrasing — a very Austin-Kleon-esque aesthetic to the point where now when I'm out and about, I'll see others' work and think to myself, "Hmmm, I wonder if So-and-So was influenced by Austin Kleon's work." That's not a bad thing, mind you.

This isn't a digression. When folks encounter your email newsletter, the design should serve a particular function, as it does in Kleon's. The design should do such a good job highlighting the fantastic content you're putting out that the reader almost forgets it's there (the design, that is).

[bctt tweet="Within the context of email, one of the purposes of design is to do such a good job highlighting the content that the reader almost forgets it's there. #contentmarketing #emailmarketing #design #contentcreation" username="mattmonge"]

next steps for content marketing tactics

HERE'S WHAT TO DO NEXT:

1. DID YOU GRAB ANY QUICK TAKEAWAYS FROM ANY OF THE EMAIL NEWSLETTER TIPS ABOVE? IF SO, DROP A "YES" BELOW...

...And let us know what it was in the comments!

2. WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO THE LIST?

Do you read any email newsletters that you'd recommend? We'd love to hear about them!

3. SHARE THIS POST!

Appreciate one or more of the tips in today's post? Click the share button!

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO
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