Eight Guidelines For Writing Newsletters That Engage Your Readers and Build Your Business

by Jane Sherwin - Date: 2010-10-26 - Word Count: 632 Share This!

Want to write newsletters that engage your readers and help to build community? Whether you are a small business or a giant corporation, a hospital or a craft store, the following universal guidelines can help you produce content-and context-that make your newsletter a powerful communications tool.

Be reliable

1. Tell readers how often they can expect to hear from you, and send your newsletter on a regular basis. Just as with a magazine, people come to expect the arrival of their favorites, whether it's their monthly copy of Oprah or the quarterly delivery of The Electric Car News. In addition, a steady delivery suggests your steady hand behind the wheel.

2. Send your e-news at least once a month, if not more. (Remember, no printing and mailing costs!) If weekly, simplify your life and skip the fancy graphics and colors-because if you are sending weekly, your readers don't need any dazzling, they know you and just want to read your useful content.

Invite the reader's eye to play

3. Make sure that your newsletter is more than densely written articles. Especially with e-news, keep the copy brief. How many times have you deleted an e-newsletter that went on and on and on? Give the first few lines, followed by a link to your website for the rest. This gets readers to your site (always a good idea) and increases the chances that they will actually learn from what you have to say-and remember you.

4. Use plenty of white space, along with graphics, boxes and sidebars. Newsletters are not like full-length books (including Kindle), with page after page of black type and white paper and same-size margins. They are designed to invite the reader to skip around-to look for favorite columns, to scan longer articles for later reading, to see what's new. Your layout should make it easy for your reader to explore. And there are always people who like to start at the back-so think about a cartoon, or a quiz, or a photo to pique their interest on the last page.

Connect with your readers

5. Invite readers to connect with you, with a special offer, or invitation to complete a short survey, or a contest, or even to subscribe if they haven't already. Remember that a newsletter assumes a community of interest. Invitations to connect remind readers of their membership in that community. If you have information about your members' interests, consider sharing it with your readers. If not, you might want to try a survey and share the results.

6. Don't write for a general audience. Remember who your readers are and write to them. If they are seniors, or the children of seniors, you will set a different tone than if they are pre-school teachers or railroad buffs. The more your tone is matched to your readers, the more they will enjoy your content and be persuaded that you care about them.
Watch out for quality

7. Don't sweat the content too much--you are not writing for the Nobel Prize. On the other hand, do be careful about the reading level. Shorter sentences, few or no subordinate clauses, and words of one and two syllables, can make it easier on the reader. Use the spelling and grammar tool on your word processor software to determine your reading level.

8. Proof read carefully! You don't need a brilliant style, but you do need to show that you are paying attention. Whether you are a clinic writing about pediatric preventive care or a restaurant discussing your new wine list, well-cared-for content demonstrates that you take responsibility for all your work.

Copyright (c) 2010 Jane Sherwin. You may reprint this entire article and you must include the copyright info and the following statement: "Jane Sherwin is a writer who helps hospitals and other healthcare facilities communicate their strengths and connect with their readers."

Learn more about Jane at http://worddrivecommunications.com/index.htm. Subscribe to Jane's free monthly e-newsletter at http://tinyurl.com/2enrdqx for practical tips on communicating effectively with customers, clients, employees and the public.n
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