There has been a lot written about the recent resurgence of newsletters and the value they can deliver in increased engagement, reader loyalty and even monetization. But reports of increasing popularity don’t help publishers get to grips with the newsletter best practises that will help them get the most from their newsletter activity.
Newsletter best practices
Spanish professor and author Ismael Nafria recently put together a list of best practices for newsletter publishers to follow if they want to implement a successful newsletter strategy. Here are some of the highlights.
- Remember your newsletter is, first and foremost, an email that will appear in the inbox of an individual who has opted in to your list. Online business publication Quartz, who dropped their paywall after realizing that 75% of its audience read its content from their inbox, simply calls its newsletter lineup ‘Emails‘.
- Newsletters are a niche format – that’s why The New York Times publishes dozens of them. Publishers should be very clear about the focus of their newsletters, and they must make that focus equally clear to potential subscribers. Sign ups come from a clear value proposition that can be expressed in a sharp tagline that can be associated with a unique newsletter brand.
- As important as the content focus is the audience focus. Publishers should take time to define the target audience for each of their newsletters, who are they, where are they and how are you going to reach them? Nafria writes:
The better you define this audience, the easier it will be to craft a compelling message and present a winning value proposition.
- Newsletter subscribers sign up with an expectation – that they will learn from it, discover new things, understand an issue better, or receive updates about a subject they care about. That puts a responsibility on newsletter creators to be experts in their field. The content delivered should also be different from that offered by competitors; differentiation is key.
- Personality is becoming increasingly important in newsletters, in some cases being the primary reason for someone to subscribe. The Atlantic recognized this phenomenon and has been investing recently to bring well known writers into its newsletter stable. The fact that email is the delivery mechanism, also makes a more personal and direct tone important.
- The top-tip from most successful newsletter publishers is to be consistent. Newsletter subscribers expect a rhythm and a regularity from the newsletters they sign up for. Delivering on that initial promise consistently is crucial for subscriber retention. Nafria explains:
The user will be waiting for the newsletter and you can’t miss that appointment, despite the fact that they can consume it whenever they want.
Nafria offers advice on format, design and newsletter types, from curated content with comment and links to pop-up newsletters published for specific events. He also writes about newsletter business models and the importance of valuing the time your publishing teams spend on newsletter creation.
Read his full list of 15 essentials for a successful newsletters over on The Audiencers website.