How to Introduce a Newsletter
Creating a newsletter can be difficult whether it is an employee newsletter for a company with 50 employees or a customer newsletter that has 100,000 subscribers. When people receive a newsletter, they will decide whether or not they want to read it within a matter of seconds, and a strong newsletter introduction can be critical in holding their attention. When you're creating a new newsletter, it's important you spend a lot of time ensuring you have a catchy-intro, clean design template and quality content.
Before creating a new newsletter, it's important to do a little research to find what others are doing that works and doesn't work. Look up the best employee newsletter examples if your newsletter is for your staff or subscribe to a number of newsletters for companies that are similar to yours if it is for the public.
Because your newsletter's highest open rate will be within an hour of when you send it, you should spend a little time thinking about what time you want it to reach your reader's inboxes. Don't look up a universal time because experts agree the best time will vary based on your audience; instead you might find out what time competitors send out there newsletter and be sure you send yours out at a different time.
Also, spend a good amount of time considering your newsletter's design. Like a website, it's far more important that your newsletter is easy-to-read and mobile friendly than it is that the email looks good. Choose a clean design that works on a wide array of cell phones and tablets over something that looks amazing but isn't as functional. Also keep your paragraphs short since this makes reading on mobile screens easier.
Meanwhile, content is the most important part of any newsletter, so be sure yours is top-quality before sending by having a number of friends, family members or business associates review your message before sending. You'll get better and faster as time goes on, but your initial email newsletter might easily be your most important, so you'll want to take time to make sure it's high quality.
When creating your first newsletter issue, you should spend a little extra time creating the introduction, as this is your chance to make a connection with your readers that may result in their looking forward to future messages, deleting all your emails or unsubscribing altogether. Since you obviously want people to continue reading every issue, you will want to make an effort to set up expectations about the future content of your messages. It doesn't matter if you are introducing a newsletter to employees, existing clients or new potential customers — you need to put a lot of thought into this first issue.
While you may still want to use some of the newsletter introduction ideas, it is also a good idea to mention that this is your first issue and request feedback from your readers. You should also incorporate many of the same details used in a first message to a subscriber, including:
- How you got the subscriber's email address and how to unsubscribe (assuming the person did not sign up specifically for a newsletter)
- How frequently you will be sending messages
- Specific benefits of subscribing
Consider this example of a first newsletter introduction that incorporates all of these aspects:
"We are proud to announce Fun Time Clothing Company's first-ever email newsletter! You are receiving this newsletter because you previously made a purchase on our website. While you are welcome to unsubscribe through the link at the bottom of this email, we hope you continue to subscribe to our weekly newsletter, where you can see our newest designs, get fascinating news about the famous artists with whom we work and get exclusive coupons and sales announcements that could save you as much as 50% on our most popular designs!"
You might be inclined to believe that newsletter introductions are the most important part of a newsletter just as the introduction of a news story or book is the most important factor in determining if people will read on, but you would be sorely mistaken. In fact, studies show that the intro of a newsletter is one of the most overlooked sections, with over 67% of users completely bypassing the intro and skipping directly to the content.
For some newsletter writers, that is enough indication that they should skip the intro altogether, but consider that the other third of users did read the intro. That 33% of readers may, in fact, determine whether or not to keep reading based solely on what the introduction says, and do you really want to ignore a third of your readers just because they are in the minority?
So, how do you make the most of something that is obviously so much less important than the rest of your newsletter? Make it as short and sweet as possible and be sure not to include any critical information in the intro that could be completely overlooked by those people who skip the introduction altogether.
What to include in a short but effective intro will vary depending on to whom you are sending your message and the purpose of your newsletter, but it is important to focus on cutting out the fluff no matter what else is in the message. For example, you might be inclined to introduce your newsletter by saying:
"We don't know about you, but we feel like this summer has been dragging on forever. It could be the dreadfully hot weather, or it could be the fact that the Braves have not won a single game since May. Either way, we are glad fall is just around the corner. Speaking of fall, with the kids heading back to school in only a few weeks, this is the perfect time to book your next massage at Hey Now! Spa, and we are celebrating the upcoming season by offering 30% off your next service if you book by August 30."
However, consider the fact that the following message is just as effective only drastically more likely to be read since it cuts out the fat and gets straight to the meat: "With the kids heading back to school soon, it is the perfect time to book your next massage at Hey Now! Spa. We are celebrating by offering 30% off your next service if you book by August 30."
If you have a lot of information about your newsletter subscribers, one of the best ways to get your readers to actually bother with the intro is to personalize the content. That doesn't mean just using subscriber names but going beyond that to show how applicable your content is to the readers themselves. For example, if you own a bank and are hoping to encourage people to invest in retirement accounts, a generic intro might read:
"You don't have to be near retirement age to start thinking about saving. In fact, the earlier you start investing in the future, the better off you will be when it gets here. If you are already retired, though, there is still more you can do to make the most of your money. Schedule an appointment with an investment consultant today to discuss your best options to make your retirement as comfortable as possible."
Assume you actually have data about your reader's age or status in the workforce. Imaging how much more powerful this message would be: "Dear Ms. Henderson — As a retiree, we know how important it is to make sure your money stretches as far as possible. That's why Donald, your investment consultant, would like to discuss money management techniques that can ensure that your present and your future are as comfortable as they can be. Please call our offices to schedule an appointment at your convenience."
You can't always start out with a major insight, opinion or statistic that will grab your reader's attention, but if you can, it is certainly likely to get them to keep reading. This technique is particularly common when you look up charity, political or employee newsletter samples since these topics are most likely to lend themselves to statements that are unlikely to alienate your readers and lead to people clicking on the unsubscribe button.
An example for an animal activism organization might read: "Did you know the yearly number of endangered species that have gone extinct has quadrupled in the last decade?"
Alternatively, an employee newsletter could start: "At Johnstone Tables, we recently learned that 29% of our raw materials end up in the landfill. As part of our continued efforts to protect the environment, we are announcing new companywide policies to help reduce our negative impact on our world. Read on to find out how these changes may affect you."
The fact that only a third of your readers will bother looking at your introduction can be depressing enough, but other statistics about newsletters can be equally depressing. For example, the average time spent reading a newsletter is only 51 seconds. If you are wondering how people can possibly read content that fast, well, that is because they are not reading, only skimming. People tend to only read 19% of newsletters, and 35% of the time, they only skim a small part of the newsletter or even just glance at the content within.
If you feel the words in your newsletters are particularly important and desperately want to encourage people to read your newsletter, you can always try hosting a contest to increase engagement. You can't just give a prize to a random subscriber, or you will just have people sign up without actually reading it. Instead, try hiding an image, word, typo or other Easter egg inside the newsletter itself that will require people to actually read it and then have them send proof that they found your Easter egg along with their name, phone number, address and age to a unique email address.
Use your subject line to announce that you are hosting a contest and then use the intro to describe the rules of the contest. After the contest deadline has ended, use a random number generator to pick an email from the total number of submissions in your contest inbox. Then, open the email and verify that the winner found your Easter egg and that she also meets your qualifications for entry (such as age and residency restrictions). If the entry is valid, contact the winner through email or phone to let her know she won your prize.
While not always applicable, if you have added people to your newsletter list who did not directly subscribe, it is advisable to start your first message to them by describing why they are getting your newsletter and how they can unsubscribe if they do not want it. When using this technique, you don't need to write a unique intro for each subscriber, just one for each place you have collected email addresses. It is also a good idea to mention how frequently you send out newsletters and to include any coupons or other benefits someone can expect from your messages in order to keep them subscribing.
If you got a number of email addresses through a recent online contest, for example, start your introductory newsletter to entrants by saying:
"You are receiving this email because you entered the 'spruce your moose' contest sponsored by Fishbones R Us, Hosting Company X and Wine Lovers Unite. Our monthly newsletter highlights all of the upcoming products from Wine Lovers Unite so you can get your hands on them as soon as they are released. We also regularly offer email-exclusive coupons and announce site-wide sales so you can save some big moolah on our award-winning wine products. If you do not wish to receive further emails, please click here to unsubscribe."