Four steps to follow when creating written content for your newsletter by denise cox
Step 1: Establish tone and style Tone and voice should be established before you publish a newsletter, and should tie into the overall communications strategy. Do your articles need to be similar in tone to the content presented on your website, or indeed to the content you present in your other company marketing materials? If so read on...
The two most common tone choices:
Casual: Making your newsletter personal and conveying information to the reader in a more casual style can really engage your readers. For example, reflections by the CEO are more casual than an article about the CEO. Also, a case written in the first person, by someone who has successfully used your products and services is a good example of engaging potential customers.
Formal: We’re not talking cold and clinical here – we’re talking about conveying more of a virtually warm, yet business-like handshake to your readers. You are conveying the information they need – in a timely, easy-to-read manner. You can open with an informal welcome from the editor, while still providing the necessary facts and figures in the accompanying articles.
Mix it up! Many newsletters mix their style and tone based on what the article needs to convey. For example the newsletter could include a casual letter from the editor written in the first person. It could also include a more formal letter from management as well as a case study written in a friendly Q&A style, with personal fun questions mixed in.
Step 2: Select relevant images to accompany articles In today’s inbox it is quite possible that your email will be viewed with images off. But don’t stop using images – they’re an important part of adding interest to the article, getting attention and engaging with your readers. Here are some tips for using images:
Pick images that compliment the article and draw the readers into the article; don’t forget to use images that match the tone and style of your articles.
Take care not to populate your newsletter with only stock images. If you do use them, select ones that highlight the actual meaning of the content.
Your article should include a reference to any photos – noting details about the photo and who appears in it. This lets readers know what they’re missing and encourages them to turn on the images.
Fill in the alt tag with a short description of the image, and also give your image a name that is relevant (such as companypicnic.jpg). This will inform people of what the image is, should they have images turned off.
Step 3: Make content scannable In writing and assembling your newsletter, remember people scan emails and make decisions in seconds whether to engage (click) or not. To encourage engagement with your content:
Write and lay out your articles so they are easy to scan. Try to stay within 25-50 word paragraphs, otherwise the text will appear dense and can’t be scanned.
Make use of bullet points, italics and white space to draw attention to the most important takeaways in your article.
Use your synopsis or summary as an opportunity to sell the sizzle of the article, which turns into a click to read the full article. Keep it brief - under 45 words, and avoid simply copying and pasting the first paragraph of the article as the summary.
Make the most of article titles to help guide your reader to the summary – which will lead them to ‘read more.’
Step 4: Check grammar and spelling Don’t forget to spell check and grammar check. This is an important element of creating trust and branding with your readers, you want to come across as professional. Your sign off process should include:
Create your copy in a word document, and use the spelling and grammar checker to catch misspellings.
Print off a copy of the article. Reading an article in this way can help you spot grammar and spelling that might not be spotted from a screen. (A tip that works in catching those illusive errors – read your article backwards.)
Ask someone outside of your team to read the article - a fresh pair of eyes will spot things that you don’t see any more.