Email newsletters have taken a lot of flak in recent years. As they’ve proliferated, open and click rates have tended to decline overall. In some ways, it’s not unlike Yogi Berra’s complaint about the restaurant that’s “so crowded nobody goes there anymore.”
But there is still strong evidence that good newsletters are a key element in building engaging and fruitful long-term relationships with current and prospective supporters – similar to the way that a desire for good food keeps the best restaurants crowded.
What makes your newsletter good? Satisfying a genuine need in your readers.
What’s less tasty? Satisfying internal organizational needs at the expense of audience desires.
Here are some tips for engaging newsletters:
- Keep it personal, friendly, informal, non-promotional, non-institutional, and even a little self-deprecating at times. Think of writing to a friend.
- Share things you imagine readers might not yet know, will be glad to find out about, and are likely to talk about with others.
- Speak to the values and aspirations that connect your readers with your organization.
- When choosing content – Does it make you stop when you first see it? Does it jump out? Does it get to you in some way? You’ve probably found the content you want to share.
- If it’s impersonal, forgettable, or easily passed by – it’s probably not quite right.
The key goal is to build over time, a strong perception of the value of e-communications from your organization, which will keep your constituents connected, and prepare them to receive future e-appeals with respect, attention, and financial support.