Imagine someone borrowed your content.
Imagine they then took that content in the exact shape and form, and just changed some links and sent it out to their list.
Would that “borrowers” list realise that the content was “borrowed?”
In most cases the answer is NO.
And you can try it out for yourself. Just take the newsletter that you get from one company and cut and paste it in the another company's newsletter, and you'd be shocked to find you can't tell who sent what?
So what causes some newsletters to stand out while others seem to just merge with the background?
Is it just content? Is it just style? Or is it something else? The truth is there are dozens of reasons why anything works. But if you wanted to start out, you'd be wise to start out with the three big reasons why some newsletters are hot, while others are plainly not.
But why bother with spicing up the newsletter in the first place?
Remember that the newsletter is critical. Most people think the Web site is critical. And yes, Web sites are important, but it's very rare that Web sites themselves are responsible for sales.
Examine your journey through many Web sites and you'll find that even if you do go to the Web site first, it's always the newsletter that pulls you back to examine a product or service.
People almost NEVER buy from a Web site first. A newsletter almost ALWAYS spurs them on, unless they're browsing for some product/service and have to buy right away. Most customers are not buyers. Which is why your newsletter becomes critical. And yet most newsletters can be fixed in three easy steps.
So what are these three easy steps you have to take?
Start off with creating a template for your newsletter.
1) What voice are you going to have?
2) What structure are you going to have?
3) What possible design will you have?
Let's start with the voice…
What voice are you going to have? Are you the person that rants? Are you the soothing voice? Are you something else? I'm a person that rants. I'm fussy about stuff and I do things my way.
People say, “Google is important”. I've ranted in a room where Google executives were sitting, and told them that “Google matters, but doesn't matter”. I rant. I rave. I do things in my own way. That's why I have a voice.
And you should have a voice, because hey, you have a personality!
What's your voice? Ask yourself: what kind of person are you? Most people think they have to put on a voice. And you don't have to. You already are a character. You don't have to do anything but be yourself. But the question does arise: What if you're a grumpy character?
It's all very fine to be a happy person, or a pedantic person—or whatever. But what if you have a personality that's kinda um, different: like grumpy? Well that's just you. And it will work very well for you to project your grumpiness in advance.
Like let's say you were New Zealand's rugby coach, Graham Henry.
Now if you look at Graham, he looks tough. But he also looks grumpy. If you were Graham, and you were about to start writing a newsletter, you'd be crazy to not use that grumpiness or toughness to your advantage. The point is that in life people accept you for what you are.
And keeping that brand image (yes it's a brand image) consistent really helps. So first you need to ask yourself: What am I? And no, you don't have to be the wispy fairy. You can be whoever you really are, but have a voice.
2) You need structure of elements
Having a structure in place saves you time, but it also creates a specific format that readers get used to. If for instance, you look at John Forde's newsletter (jackforde.com) you'll find that going back in time, Jack follows a format. It includes a quote, some affiliate links and Jack's easy flowing articles on copywriting. And that consistency helps both Jack and his readers.
When you look at the Psychotactics newsletter you see a lot of structure too
But there's sales structure and editorial structure to consider. At first we'd only send out a newsletter—no sales pitch.
Then we started sending out a sales letter with sales content at the top and not at the bottom. Then we sandwiched it with some sales content on the top and some at the bottom. And the article sat right in between. That's structure. We tested what works for us. What works for us, may not work for you.
You need to keep at it, and see what works.
Our definition of “what works” is what saves us time and it gets us a steady flow customers. We have a slightly different format for our members than for Psychotactics subscribers. And we have a different format if it's a sales letter only (no editorial content at all). And it's not just us at Psychotactics that keeps a range of newsletters.
You'll find that Apple or Amazon or any smart marketer, has the very same format.
In some cases, the format is sales only. Then again, it may work for Apple. It may not work for you. You have a very good opportunity to do what's outlined in Point 1: create a voice. Create it and then drive it home.
3) And finally the design
Design is simply how you present your newsletter. It can be all fancy, or not fancy at all. Our newsletter doesn't have frills. It's text only. If you want to read the HTML version it's on the blog. Why is this the case? Well for one, it works for us. Our text-only newsletter generates enough for us to live happily ever after.
Should you be doing an HTML newsletter? It depends on your goals of course, and what works for you. It takes a little work to set up a good HTML format, but once it's done it's done. If on the other hand you don't fancy HTML then just find a text template that works (e.g. this newsletter template) and start using it consistently.
Is this advice almost too basic?
It may appear basic, and yet it's critical that you pay close attention to all of these three factors. Even if you do have two in place, you may find you don't really have a distinct voice. Or you may have a distinct voice, but no consistency of layout. All of these little things matter if you want to create a newsletter that's read, paid attention to, and brings clients back to you time and time again.
Use the three steps.
Make them work for you.
And make it very hard for others to “borrow” your newsletter.
“One day, after having endured the umpteenth SEO SECRETS AND MARKETING SUCCESS TRICKS REVEALED Expert’s pitch (and every one of them containing little more than canned advice about titles, keywords, h1-h2-h3, meta tags and content), I threw up my hands and stopped reading. Everything. I decided to give myself a week off to decompress and clear my head of the hype and noise and folderol.”
Lucky me. I didn’t take the week off. I decided to finish reading the day’s email instead – and found another gem from Sean. Thank goodness.
Recognize that, with Sean’s approach, you’re not being beaten about the head and shoulders with terror tactics, outlandish promises and three-ring circus ballyhoo. Once you realize Sean is entirely “f’real,” don’t take the week off to avoid the hucksters. Just open the pages of Brain Audit and breathe deeply of the rarified air of straight talk, straight thinking and calm logic.
MK (Casey) van Bronkhorst, Owner – Perfectly Shaped World , CA, USA
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I’ll tell you this much: I can’t imagine NOT being part of the 5000bc family!
As a matter of fact, being inside The Cave is like being inside the brains of the universe.
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Markus Trauernicht says
Most corporate identities (hate the phrase) in one market could just change logo plus message with a competitor and nothing really would change. Haven`t taken that tought over to the newsletter level. Fear of an own voice makes too many newsletters to equal. And not having an own voice means playing according to the rules of a very sterile environment.
Karen Gordon says
A VOICE WOW! That is a neat idea. No grumpiness for us… but what? That is a challenge itself, let alone upgrading our website & newsletter. And Man it needs it after 8 years.
A voice… but would it be my soft, gentle & perfectionist, splashed with mischievousness one or my Boss’.. he’s a romantic and it could be too winded.
Thank you so much
Milton Thomas says
I can truly appreciate what your saying. My inbox is filled with so called newsletters. The majority of which, are following the same format, just the name has been changed to protect the innocent. After the first few lines, I’m ready to move on to the next, unexciting e-mail.
In my own newsletter, “Free E-book NewsLetter”, I have an individualized template and format that I find interesting.
My readership is up to 350 now, with no negative feedback on my design. Interested readers may check it out by going to http://readingforsuccessblog.info/ttm.
Just for signing up for a trial membership, you receive a free e-book.
“Targeted Traffic Machines”