Posted by eireland 3 years, 9 months ago

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Is it just me or are we experiencing a resurgence of the email newsletter? I never thought I’d look FORWARD to receiving emails and even some on the daily! This can’t be the future of news and branded content…or can it? I never thought I’d see Janet Jackson in concert either, but there she was last Saturday night dancing her way through an entire show at 50-years-old.

The Skimm played and continues to play a huge part in what rekindled the email flame. My mom told me about this e-digest of the day’s most important stories. Yes, the woman who introduced me to Twitter in 2007. Yes, she is much cooler than me. It’s a must-read for any news junkie. I need theSkimm every morning almost as much as I need my coffee. I’m also a fan of “Ann Friedman Weekly” emailed on Fridays (TGIFriedman), Of a Kind’s “10 Things” from founders Erica and Claire, "Monthy Radness" from Holiday Matinee, and PR Daily

Gwyneth Paltrow introduced a lot of people to this digital frontier with weekly lifestyle publication “Goop” clearing the brush for unconscious coupling and recent celebrity e-newsletter entrants such as Reese Witherspoon and Lena Dunham. If you’re into non-snarky feminism, style, health, and politics RUN, don’t walk, to subscribe to Dunham and co-creator Jenni Konner’s “Lenny Letter.” You probably heard about actress Jennifer Lawrence’s op-ed on the gender wage gap aptly titled “Why Do I Make Less Than My Co-Stars?” published in Lenny earlier this month.

It’s easy to garner a following when you’re Lena Dunham, but what about regular old companies looking for hard-won subscribers? 

I think we can apply a few of the same principles whether you’re Lenny Letter or Dave’s Dish (This is a made up company. No, my boss David did not create a small satellite dish startup).

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts in the art of e-newslettering:

DO be informal. Authors who write the way they talk tend to command more attention than those who use corporate jargon. If newsletter voice was a dress code think “casual Friday” rather than "you must wear a suit to work every day." 

DON’T create content for content’s sake. Many businesses suffer from “me too” syndrome. They see everyone else sending out newsletters and sloppily put one together in a futile attempt to engage an audience with no real strategy behind it. I say it’s okay to pump the brakes until you have some good quality content to share. With a dizzying amount of information in our inboxes “quality over quantity” has never been more real. 

DO be interesting. If your content is good, people will subscribe and share. Enough said. Don't be afraid to pay a professional writer for contributions, especially while you're trying to build a following. If your copy went up against theSkimm or Lenny Letter, how would it do? 

DO tailor scheduling to your audience. Understand the frequency in which your subscribers want to hear from you. No offense to Dave’s Dish, but a satellite dish startup probably doesn't need to send weekly emails, monthly may even be pushing it. Daily Skimm? Keep doing what you’re doing. Poll your audience about scheduling in your next newsletter. Don’t rely on guesswork, ask them directly.

DON’T overload the newsletter with content. Go easy on your audience. Right now I'm digging about four-ish briefs. Holiday Matinee’s e-newsletter was one of the first I received that didn’t make my blood boil when it landed in my inbox! They were early adopters of a short, simple, compelling LIST! Lists in general are in vogue and I'm not mad about it. 

DO use original art. I recently read that Lenny commissions illustrations and collages that accompany its content. What a great way to weave subscribers into the fabric of your brand to help tell its story. At minimum, there is FREE graphic design software like Canva to generate unique imagery within five minutes. It’s literally that easy!

DO choose the right platform. Constant Contact was all the rage when I started in this business, but appears a bit stuck in its ways based on the grumbling I'm hearing from frequent users. MailChimp and its stripped down version TinyLetter seems to be the more “with it” software for ease of use on both the sender and receiver sides.

DO include share ability. Insert social buttons and auto-drafted Tweets, Facebooks, etc. The more content you can tee up for sharing the better. Insert easy "forward to a friend" functionality. I love "Share That Sh*t" from theSkimm.


DON'T forget to drive subscribers back to your website. VERY important.  
Oh, did I mention we have an e-newsletter? Please sign up here if you're into marketing, public relations, and a bull named Stavros

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