Set a Rational Production Schedule
Scrambled, ad-hoc content is often the result of overestimating your ability to create and produce e-newsletters on a regular basis - "All the news that fits, we print." The first rule is to find a schedule of publication you can stick to. Many companies just don't have enough news, or staff with the knowledge and creativity to ferret out interesting stories, to fill a weekly or even monthly newsletter. Set a schedule you know you can keep, even if it's only quarterly or semiannually, so you don't disappoint subscribers who are expecting to hear from you. If you ramp up well and get a process going that supports more frequent publication, you can always introduce that later as a benefit to readers.
Name That Newsletter
Sure, you can call your publication "Company Name Newsletter." Thousands do. But naming a publication should be an exercise in branding. No doubt you've selected a design and graphics that complement your brand. Now take some time to come up with a harmonized title and tagline, to set the tone and shape reader expectations. Here are some creative e-newsletter names that might stimulate your thinking:
Don't be afraid to be idiosyncratic. Sometimes those are the names that stand out the best.
Plan the Content Around a Theme
Achieving the ideal flow of articles in a newsletter is harder than it looks. Plus, with today's consumers so overwhelmed with media impressions, it will make your life and theirs much easier if you write each newsletter around a theme.
Start by making up an editorial calendar that lists the categories of items you will publish in each issue (main article, product focus, events, testimonials, etc.); draft a general theme or concept for each issue; and then brainstorm ways to talk about your products, services and industry that work with the theme. It doesn't have to be perfect, but writing to a theme will grease the wheels of production in a number of ways.
Think of how customers interact with your brand, and isolate themes around the uses of your products, the benefits of your services, or how your brand fits into the subscribers' work or lifestyle. You can use seasonal themes if they can be tied logically to your brand, or themes related to what's going on in the world at large: Tax Time, Fourth of July, Back to School. Internally, look at R&D, planned product promotions, PR calendars, and advertising schedules to find tie-ins for your e-newsletter.
Write Subject Lines That Drive Opens
Email subject lines are analogous to the promotional writing on the outside of a DR envelope. So why are half the e-newsletters I receive announced with one of the following worn-out subject lines? --- "Our Company Newsletter for April" or the perennial "Welcome to Your April Newsletter."
Please give your readers a reason to open your newsletter! If you have themed your content, the subject line will write itself. Here are some actual subject lines that caught my interest:
So strategic planning, a branded name, themed content and meaty subject lines will give your e-newsletters vitality. Together these elements make up an integrated marketing approach that boosts your brand and assists the reader to absorb the key messages faster -- a good thing in this day and age.