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5 Tips for Newsletters That Get Read

By: Linda Formichelli

Linda Formichelli (e-mail) is a copywriter and magazine writer based in Massachusetts.  She's written for more than 45 magazines and for such corporate clients as Bay State Gas, Pizzeria Uno, Performance Printing and AFC Cable Systems.  Linda holds a Master's degree from U.C. Berkeley.

1. Grab them with the title.

Just like with a sales letter, ad or article, you want to start with a hook that keeps your audience reading. Don't make the mistake of sticking with your company's name--you'll be throwing away prime newsletter real estate.

For example, if your company's name is Inflammable Computers Inc., don't call your newsletter Inflammable Computers News. That title may capture the attention of people who are already familiar with your company, but it won't draw in people who have never heard of you. A name like The PC Success Guide is more likely to pique the interest of all computer users.

2. Share your knowledge.

Is there anything people like more than getting something for free? If there is, please don't tell me--I don't want to know about it. Filling your newsletter with free helpful information, tips and resources will make you a valuable resource to your readers and create the kind of goodwill that all the ads in the world can't buy.

What kind of information can you include in your newsletter?
  • Tips on how to do something you're an expert at: removing stains, tasting wine, writing press releases, replacing a spark plug, making a craft, saving money.
  • A behind-the-scenes look at your business: how the donuts are really made, what your manufacturing line looks like, where your equipment comes from, how a grape destemmer machine works.
  • A look at the people in your business: the person who designs your labels, the woman who reads the meters, the man who drives the delivery truck.
  • New product announcements.
  • Company news: new employees, a change of address, new clients.
  • A contest.
Those are only a few suggestions. If you're stumped as to what to include, you can always ask a few longtime clients what they would like to see in your newsletter. 

3. Give the heave-ho to the hard sell.

Studies show that newsletters have a 400% higher readership rate than standard sales materials such as brochures and fliers. But a newsletter full of sales propaganda will get tossed in the round file just as fast as those other things. Concentrate on sharing information instead. If you make your newsletter a valuable resource instead of just another sales tool, your audience will read it and maybe even file it away for future use. Can you say that much for an ad or flier?

4. Liven up your articles with quotes.

We love to hear what other people have to say. That's why you'll almost never see a newspaper or magazine article without quotes from experts and eyewitnesses. As a magazine article writer, I use quotes from as many sources as fact, sometimes my articles are more quotes than anything else! But they sell and people read them.

Another bonus of using quotes: Instead of doing the hard sell, you can quote other people's great opinions of you or your product. It sounds less like hype if a third party is saying it for you. "'Linda Formichelli is the best writer in the history of mankind,' says Mikhail Bulgakov" sounds a lot better than boasting "I am the greatest writer in the history of mankind!"

5. Do it with style.

It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that a clean, attractive layout with relevant and clear graphics or photos is a must for a professional newsletter. I'm no graphic designer, so I borrowed the following style tips from Kenneth Wayne Bullard's article Avoid a Newsletter "Titanic," which appeared in the March 1998 issue of Wealth Building.
  • The most readable typefaces for newsletters are traditional serif typefaces such as Times, Caslon and Roman.
  • A table of contents is one of the most important reader's cues in your newsletter.
  • For headlines, use a type size two to three times that of your text.
  • Starting your article with an oversized initial capital letter will help lead the reader's eye into your story.
  • If you have long articles, subheads will break it up and keep the reader moving through the article. For subheads use your text font set in bold style two to four points larger than the text type size.
  • Pull quotes (quotes copied from the text and set in larger type elsewhere on the page) attract your reader's attention and add a decorative touch to the page.
  • Use white space to set off visuals, headlines and pull quotes. Plenty of white space also increases the legibility of your text.
  • A single large visual or photo is preferable to several small ones.

© Copyright 1999, Linda Formichelli

Other Articles by Linda Formichelli

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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