Choose a newsletter topic
1. Use customer surveys, website analytics, and other data inputs to identify your core audience’s demographics and what interests or challenges they care about.
Many ecommerce and marketing newsletters try to do too many things or serve too many audience segments. The result is an email that’s too broad or too generic to truly engage your audience. Instead, you need to know exactly who your audience is, such as their job position, common problems, and where they are in your customer journey, and what information they are seeking. You can obtain this information from online analytics, customer feedback, and other data sources: Refer to your company’s buyer persona and customer journey to identify where your newsletter fits within your content marketing strategy, and what problems your audience is trying to solve at this stage. Review the pages on your website that receive the most organic traffic and identifying the type of topics or content these pages feature. Conduct a basic survey asking your website visitors what type of topics and content they want to see more of. Talk to your customer service team to see the common topics, questions and concerns they hear from your customers. Conduct exit surveys when people unsubscribe from your existing emails, asking them what is missing from your existing emails. Poll your existing email list and say that you’ll be launching a new newsletter and are interested in what people want to receive.
2. Identify the top question, problem or resource that your audience consistently reads, asks for more of, or is searching for.
The more specific, the better. Take a look at all the data you collected in the previous step, and identify the most common topic, question or problem that keeps arising. Some companies may have multiple topics that their readers care deeply about. In such cases, you should not try to fit them all into one newsletter, but instead create multiple newsletters that your audience can opt into. For example, HubSpot has a suite of newsletter topics tailored to a specific problem or industry for which they provide services. There is an email marketing newsletter, a website analytics newsletter, and so forth. Wayfair has product category newsletters letting you know about exciting new products or sales in specific product categories you’re interested in. For instance, they have an outdoor and backyard newsletter, and a home décor newsletter.
3. Convert the aforementioned question or topic into a specific content format once you know what type of information your audience needs or wants to read.
This turns your abstract topic into a specific newsletter idea that gives your writers clarity and provides your audience a clear reason to opt-in. Example formats to help you brainstorm include newsletters in the form of: A daily or weekly how-to guide. A roundup of the week’s newest blog posts or articles about this specific question or problem. A list of the week’s or month’s commonly asked industry questions, with answers from your team. An interview with an expert on the specific question or problem. Industry news and alerts. Hot takes on industry trends or industry news. Customer stories or interviews about how they tackle the challenge you know that your audience faces, or how they use your tools or products to achieve the goals you know your audience desires. For example, Politico knows that its audience wants political news but can’t always take in the volume of news that’s out there. Their weekly digest gives readers a bullet list of what Politico deems most important, along with blurbs from experts giving their analytical viewpoints.
4. Build newsletter content around your focused topic and content format, staying balanced between education, sales and timeliness.
For a truly engaging newsletter, your readers want: Education before sales. If they feel they’re only being marketed to, they’ll be less inclined to open and engage with your email content. Timeliness: For optimal open rates and click-through rates, your email content should find ways to tie into current news, trends, or problems. While each newsletter should tie into your brand and have CTAs that direct readers to your website, a landing page, or a product page, aim for 90% education and 10% sales marketing. When possible, consider how to specifically tie each newsletter to something that’s going on in the world or the marketplace. For example, social media app Later often frames social media strategy and tips in terms of what readers can learn from a recent event organizer or major brand, for example How Instagram Stories Won Gold at This Year’s Winter Olympics”.
5. Set expectations on your opt-in forms by making it clear what topic your newsletter is about.
This will aid for maximum opt-ins, a healthy email list, and optimal open rates and click-through rates. Mention the topic in the headlines, body, and CTA of your email opt-in form or landing page. For example: Headline: Weekly updates on the newest trends in electric car technology. CTA text: Yes, I want to know what’s happening in electric car innovation!