These common newsletter mistakes can take all your work and render it useless. But take heart: These popular errors are easily fixed.
Remember when newsletters were new? Remember when anyone could — and did — have a newsletter? And people were excited about getting it?
Not anymore. Soapboxes now clutter the world. And your newsletter is just another soapbox.
Now there are e-newsletters — attached to your email, being sent to people either too nice or too busy to say no. Buried in their inbox.
And that leaves you like Father McKenzie’s sermon in the song Eleanor Rigby. Unheard.
Wouldn’t it be great if your newsletter were vital? If it got immediately opened? If it wasn’t just another dumb-thing-we-gotta-do given to the newest guy on staff?
You can labour over your newsletter’s design. And your newsletter’s graphic design is important. But consider the design as the setting for the word-based content. A good newsletter looks right and has compelling content. Unfortunately, your content may often let you down, thwart your organization’s goals, and leave your readers unmoved.
Here are the top mistakes we regularly find in newsletters. Change these and breathe life into your publication — and maybe your organization.
Newsletter mistakes #1: The president’s message
How many times have you seen this headline?
Here’s a news flash: “President’s message” is not a headline. It’s a generic story type. Yet, even sophisticated people continue to anesthetize their article with such a sleepy header.
Rather, consider the headline to be the ad for the article that follows. It’s a tiny bit of text that encourages people to read further. It grabs people’s interest.
Think of the last article you just had to read. Would it surprise you to know that its headline was probably pulled from a list of 40 different headlines? And it took over an hour to write?
If you can’t be bothered to write a compelling headline, then as a result your audience won’t be bothered to read your article.
Headline writing is an art. Download Jon Morow’s 52 Headline Hacks. It’s a collection of headline ideas to help you write your own compelling headlines.
Newsletter mistakes #2: The mute envelope
If you deliver your newsletter by regular mail, put a compelling reason to open the envelope on the front. Let’s say a celebrity gave a stimulating graduation address at your college. Why not put this on the front of the envelope: “What shocking advice did celebrity’s name give at our spring commencement?”
The big difference between you and the pros is that the pros cut and cut their work so only the best stuff remains.
In the time crunch of daily life, people might be too busy to open your envelope. Give your readers a compelling reason to open yours. An envelope that looks like any other piece of mail doesn’t stand a chance.
Find ideas about how to write great envelope teaser copy here.
Newsletter mistakes #3: The personal introduction
One often sees this when an editor asks amateurs to write an article. The piece usually starts something like this: “When the editor contacted me to write about this topic, I felt …” etc.
Only the writer — and perhaps the writer’s mother — cares about the feelings of the writer in putting pen to paper. The rest of us don’t care. Therefore, why not use that first paragraph to deliver something wildly interesting about the topic?
Newsletter mistakes #4: The long article
I bet you read the headline of the top story in today’s newspaper. But I can almost guarantee you didn’t read the story. Why? Length.
The longer the article is, the fewer the readers you’ll consequently have. The big difference between you and the pros is that the pros cut and cut their work so only the best stuff remains. Here are tips on how to make your article shorter.
Newsletter mistakes #5: Every article gets in
Rather than edit articles down or leave some items for a later issue, some newsletter creators will reduce the size of type in their text. That way, they don’t have to say “no” to people who want something in the newsletter.
But making the type smaller is like adding a couple of extra rows on an airplane to fit more passengers in; and so it makes the trip less comfortable for everyone. While airplane passengers vow never to fly that airline again, your readers have a simpler option: they simply turn the page. And consequently all your careful writing goes unread.
Finally, newsletters are challenging. Pitchgreen has years of experience with challenging communications projects — including newsletters. Contact us for a free, 30-minute consultation on how to kick life into your newsletter.