This is a guest post from Gregg Schwartz at Strategic Sales & Marketing.
It can be hard to come up with new content ideas for your email newsletter, but this is a great opportunity to reach customers.
Your company’s email newsletter shouldn’t be “about” your business: It should be about how to improve your customers’ lives with specific insights, solutions, and resources.
Ideally, your email newsletter shouldn’t look like advertising and it shouldn’t sound like a lead generation script.
Instead, it should feel like exciting content, like reading an enjoyable magazine or watching a favorite show—something that your customers choose to subscribe to and actively want to receive.
Read on for a few content-creation ideas for your email newsletter and ways to make more it readable and clickable.
Make it seasonal.
Thinking about your email newsletter like a “magazine” is a helpful way of coming up with content ideas, and every good magazine has a year-long editorial calendar with seasonal story ideas.
Whether it’s the holiday season, back-to-school season, the New Year, summer vacation season, or any other special times of year that are particularly important to your business, your email newsletter needs to capitalize on these seasonal opportunities for email newsletter stories.
A classic example: offering holiday recipes for a food-related business, such as Tovala’s seasonal email offer to “Make homemade holiday favorites without breaking a sweat.”
This email newsletter quickly shows it’s relevant to the holiday season and reinforces the value proposition of the Tovala brand—helping people make delicious meals at home, quickly and conveniently.
The brand’s value proposition is especially relevant during the holiday season, when people are often under stress and pressured for time, but still want to enjoy some delicious food at home.
Solve a specific problem.
Your email newsletter offer should speak to a specific problem that your customer is facing and offer a solution to the problem.
This Good Eggs meal kit newsletter offers “The shortcut to great food on your table, all week long,” and has a breakdown of offers by “weeknight,” “weekday,” and “weekend” meal occasions.
Why does this matter?
Because it prompts the reader to think differently about their meal prep needs throughout the week—and it shows the reader that Good Eggs has solutions for all of their meals, whether it’s a fast weekday lunch at the office, an easy-to-prepare weeknight meal when they are pressed for time, or a more indulgent “weekend” meal when they might have more time.
Look for fun, relevant topic tie-ins.
No matter what industry you’re in, there are opportunities every day to speak to bigger trends and popular topics of conversation—sports, music, fashion, movies, TV, and more.
Look for fun pop culture tie-ins that relate to your brand, products, or industry. Your email newsletter can comment on these trendy storylines, even if it doesn’t seem to relate directly to your products.
Your customers will often enjoy reading about fun pop culture topics, especially if you can make the stories entertaining and connected to the themes of your brand or the solutions that you provide for your customers.
For example, men’s fashion brand Mr. Porter recently featured stories in its email newsletter about celebrity fashion, “the seven party cities to visit next” (capitalizing on the trend for travel and trendy cities), and “how to dress for every party.”
Even though none of these stories were necessarily “about” the clothes of the Mr. Porter brand, they help to create an image of the brand as being a relevant, credible source of information on fashion and lifestyle trends.
Think about how this strategy might work for your brand. What topics could you comment on or “report” on in your email newsletter? What are some issues affecting your industry or your customer base? What sorts of issues or stories are you a credible “expert” on?
For example, if you sell meal kits, your email newsletter could offer stories related to food, cooking, and travel, such as “5 amazing cooking tours that you can take this year,” or “The 7 hottest restaurant scenes in North America.”
If you sell insurance, your email newsletter could include stories on saving money when buying a car or what types of insurance plans to invest in.
There are lots of great stories out there, and you don’t have to claim to have all the answers or all the knowledge about any given topic.
Be creative and open-minded about how to find relevant connections between what you sell and what your customers want to read about—there’s often greater overlap than you might expect.
Co-create stories with your customers.
Email newsletters are such a powerful form of marketing because they put a message directly in front of your customers via the email inbox.
They’re a uniquely intimate form of marketing because your customers are getting your messages right inside their inboxes: You’re reaching them during idle moments throughout the workday or in the evening when they’re home.
When customers agree to give you their email address, they’re committing to a more involved level of communication than most brands can achieve—that’s why email newsletters continue to work so well.
Customers have agreed to opt in to receive your emails and are more likely to act upon your emails than many other forms of marketing.
So, don’t miss the opportunity to make your emails even more engaging by co-creating stories with your customers. In other words, use your email newsletter to share customer success stories, case studies, or other happy news from your community of customers.
Here are a few ideas for co-creating stories with customers:
- Customer testimonials about how your product helped improve a customer’s life.
- Interesting new ways that customers are using your product (unexpected benefits).
- Your company being active in the community—what are some ways that your company is making a difference, sponsoring children’s sports teams, giving money to good causes?
- Customer of the Month spotlight: who’s one of your favorite customers?
- Share their story (this type of story can be especially valuable if your customer is a small business owner: opportunites for free publicity and partnerships).
- Social Media Comments of the Month: share the best social media posts or comments from your customers discussing your product or industry.
Make a game of it (rewards).
Are you giving your customers extra incentive to read and share your email newsletter?
One of the simplest ways is to use your email newsletter to offer special deals, discounts, and rewards such as a discount coupon, percent-off coupon, or another limited-time offer.
But what if you could also use your email newsletter to invite your customers to spread the word about your newsletter?
Morning Brew, an excellent tech and business email newsletter, has a special CTA at the bottom of each issue of its newsletter where it invites people to “Share the Brew” by referring the newsletter to other readers.
Morning Brew gives each of its readers a personalized referral page and referral link to make it easy to share the newsletter with other people—and, whenever you share the newsletter with enough other new readers, you get a reward.
What if you could do this with your email newsletter? What’s it worth to you to get some new readers/subscribers to your email list? What creative rewards and referral incentives can you offer to your customers to share your email newsletter and help boost your audience to new levels?
If you find yourself staring at a blank screen when trying to create your next email newsletter, don’t give up.
Start by coming up with seasonal stories based on various times of year—special offers, seasonal trends, or relevant tips and tricks that are on your customer’s mind during each particular time of year.
Think about how your email newsletter can help your customers solve specific problems or explore detailed occasions to use your product, such as “weeknight meal ideas” for a food company or meal kit service.
Get creative with relevant tie-ins and pop culture connections to come up with story ideas, such as stories from the world of sports, music, movies, and pop culture.
Remember: any topic that’s relevant to your business, even if it’s not directly “about” your product or service, can be fair game when it comes to thinking up ideas for your email newsletter.
Co-create stories with your customers; people love to read about themselves and their lives. Look for ways to spotlight your customers along with mentions of your products and brand.
Finally, create opportunities to reward and incentivize your customers: Thank them for reading your newsletter, give them discounts and special deals, and offer referral rewards for customers who share your newsletter and expand your audience.
Gregg Schwartz is the vice president of sales and marketing at Strategic Sales & Marketing, a lead-generation firm based in Connecticut.