Thinking about launching a newsletter?
Whether you are building a new brand or trying to elevate the image of a mainstay product or service that has been around for years, publishing a regular newsletter can be a great way to keep clients and customers informed and excited about what your business is working on next.
However, running a high-quality newsletter alongside the daily operations of a well-oiled corporation or small business is not as easy as it sounds. Before you decide to take on any additional responsibilities or add more to your team’s plate, 20 members from Fast Company Executive Board are here to offer their take on what it means to make this type of commitment to potential audience members and the staff they’ll be expecting to lean on.
1. WHAT IS THE BEST METHOD OF DELIVERY?
Consider the best method to deliver your newsletter. While email may still resonate with the Gen X demographic and above, text marketing has to come into play for millennials and generation Z. Pairing suitable methods with meaningful value in each message offers the best chance to build loyalty while keeping unsubscribers to a minimum. – Cam Wilkie, func.media
2. WHAT DO YOUR POTENTIAL SUBSCRIBERS WANT TO READ?
First, decide what your subscribers want to read—not what you want them to read. It’s a delicate balance. Above all else, your newsletter must first provide value. If you build trust, they’ll eventually watch your case study video. – Kristin Hege, Convey Communications
3. HOW CAN YOU MAKE THE CONTENT VISUALLY APPEALING AND INTERESTING?
We all likely have lots of newsletter subscriptions, but much fewer newsletters that we actually read. Make it visually appealing and interesting, with one to three main points the reader can take away. It’s much harder to write a smart, brief, and visually compelling piece than a generic newsletter, but people are more likely to read the former. – Robin Ficke, World Business Chicago
4. DO YOU HAVE A PLAN IN PLACE TO SUSTAIN THE NEWSLETTER FOR THE LONG TERM?
Launching a newsletter subscription is not really about the launch, which is only a single event. The success of a newsletter subscription hinges on your commitment to the ongoing management of the program. Ensure that you have defined your audience, documented your content strategy, developed an editorial calendar and a promotional plan, and are in it for the long haul. – Meg Sullivan, Imprint
5. DO YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE BASE?
Think not only about the kind of content that your ideal customers would find most useful but also the format that is the most effective. If they are busy senior executives, they won’t want long, drawn-out articles or stories. If they are creatives, they will want images and powerful, deliberate language—not corporate speak. Finally, deliver in a format that is not draining for you to upkeep. – Pamela Slim, pamelaslim.com and K’é Community Lab
6. DO YOU HAVE THE TIME AND RESOURCES TO PROVIDE THE RIGHT VALUE?
Do you have time, resources, and valuable content to produce a newsletter that’s worthy of your brand? A well-edited, nicely formatted newsletter with well-targeted content can become a powerful marketing tool. But a newsletter that’s not relevant to your audience, not well-written, or badly formatted can do more harm than good. If it’s 100% marketing, your readers will start ignoring it. – Katherine Radeka, Rapid Learning Cycles Institute
7. DO YOU HAVE A RELIABLE TEAM IN PLACE TO MEET DEADLINES?
Newsletters are an excellent form of communication, but they require quality content to be successful. Before you launch a newsletter, make sure you have designated someone to gather “news” for the newsletter and establish set deadlines so you can adequately plan for each update. It is also important to define the goal of your newsletter. Targeted content can be tailored to its audience. – Evan Nierman, Red Banyan
8. HOW WILL YOUR BRAND BE DIFFERENT?
How do you differentiate within the newsletter landscape? It is oversaturated, so what is your brand’s core point of view that will come through and make the newsletter compelling, interesting, and useful to your existing followers and readers and grow that audience? – Eric Cohen, NuVoodoo
9. HOW OFTEN WILL YOU PUBLISH FOR CONSISTENCY?
When launching a newsletter, it’s key to focus on your audience (those you’re trying to positively impact) and how you’re driving constructive, healthy debate with those who challenge you. If you’re authentic and represent your true identity, it’ll likely resonate. Consistency is also key so they know what to expect and when. I recommend a monthly or bi-monthly schedule—whatever is manageable. – Irina Soriano, Seismic
10. DOES THE NEWSLETTER ALIGN WITH YOUR BRAND IDENTITY?
One thing to consider if you want to launch a newsletter subscription for your brand is how it aligns with your brand identity. Ensure the messaging, tone, and information are within your zone of genius and that you aren’t chasing trends. – Jevon Wooden, Live Not Loathe
11. IS IT USER-FRIENDLY AND EASY TO SIGN UP FOR?
There’s a lot of content out there, so make sure your newsletter offers something that internet searches can’t share as efficiently. You can do multiple things, like ensuring it’s as intuitive as possible, easily accessible, and has a user-friendly sign-up process. Take content further by offering expert advice with a personable and authentic approach that keeps your subscribers loyal. – Abhilash Patel, Within Health
12. HAVE YOU POLLED YOUR DESIRED AUDIENCE FOR ANY FEEDBACK?
You must clearly and definitively understand what content matters to your audience. Everyone is fighting for eyeballs these days. The people you are targeting have only so many hours in the day and can only consume so much content. If you’re not listening to their wants and needs, you’re making a newsletter for you, not your audience. Poll, parse, publish. – Richard RB Botto, Stage 32
13. WHAT IS YOUR GOAL FOR THE NEWSLETTER?
First and most important, you need to determine the goal of the newsletter. The content, cadence, and messaging will be different if you’re trying to position your team as an industry thought leader as opposed to keeping investors up to date on company news. If the goal is clear, it will be easier to compile week over week and keep your audience engaged. – Shannon Tucker, Next PR
14. WHERE DOES YOUR AUDIENCE COMMUNICATE MOST EFFECTIVELY?
Is this the best method to communicate with your target audience? Also, where are your existing and potential customers engaging most frequently with content? You should be following where they are going, and you may find it more effective to focus your efforts on other platforms, including social media. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing
15. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO MARKET THE NEWSLETTER?
You will need to determine the type of content you want to include, decide on the frequency of delivery, and create a sign-up form that will be easy for your customers to use. Additionally, it would be best to consider how you plan to market the newsletter and ensure it is engaging enough for readers. – Kristin Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
16. HOW UNIQUE IS YOUR CONTENT?
One thing to consider if you want to launch a newsletter subscription for your brand is the value proposition of your content. Your newsletter should provide subscribers with unique, valuable, and engaging content that they can’t find elsewhere. Make it worthwhile for them to subscribe because there’s too much noise out there. It’s not easy to get into people’s inboxes and stay there. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
17. HOW ARE YOU NURTURING CURRENT CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES?
Don’t do it! Newsletters seemingly always take more time, effort, and commitment than anyone has these days—including your readership. I recommend nurturing campaigns, don’t get me wrong, but rescope it to be three topics at most, with one paragraph for each. That makes it easy to commit time and resources to a pithy, visually interesting “snapshot” on a regular basis that your audience will devour. – Lisa Bichsel, Bichsel Medical Marketing Group
18. WILL YOU OFFER SUBSCRIPTION INCENTIVES?
Make it easy for people to subscribe to your newsletter. Include a prominent sign-up form on your website, social media channels, and other digital touch points. Consider offering a sign-up incentive such as a free e-book or discount code to encourage people to subscribe. Make the content easy to share, so your subscribers can influence their peers to follow your content. – Leigh Dow, 48 West Agency
19. IS THERE ENOUGH CONTENT AVAILABLE?
The first question is do you have enough content and a media team to produce a newsletter that your target audience will want to read on a regular basis? You will need a unique and creative perspective to break through the noise, and there may be other applications of your resources that will generate more ROI. – Stephen Feline, London & Partners
20. HOW WILL THE NEWSLETTER SUPPORT THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY EFFECTIVELY?
One thing to consider before launching a newsletter is: How? How will a newsletter support the customer journey? How will success be measured? How will the team ensure ongoing resourcing? While it may be a valuable tactic in your business, managing a newsletter is far more resource intensive than it appears. Obsess over your “how” before diving in. – Karen Starns, OJO Canada