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Content that Writes Itself

You don't have to fill your newsletters all by yourself

by Jeff Ferrazzo,  Constant Contact Regional Development Director, Minnesota

At my Getting Started with Email Marketing seminars, "How do I fill my newsletter each month?" is a frequently asked question. Many business owners and nonprofit managers don't consider themselves writers. Nevertheless, they understand the value of content-rich newsletters being delivered to their customers, members, and prospects.

Fortunately, you don't have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald to fill your monthly newsletters with content that your subscribers find useful. Your newsletter can virtually write itself.

Here are four suggestions for easy newsletter content:

Link Articles of Interest. As an expert in your field, you continually educate yourself by reading material from magazines, websites, and industry related publications. Your customers and members may be uninformed or may not have access to this information. Take snippets of information from the article you're reading and share it in your newsletter using a link. Use a couple lines of introduction explaining the article, and share its usefulness.

Recently, a personal trainer in my seminar stated that she reads three fitness magazines a month. She typically shares with clients during training sessions what she learns. Extending that same information to newsletter readers provides them with content the can use and apply.

(Note: Some online publications need a subscription to access the content. Don't link to an article that can't be accessed freely.)

Republish Articles (with Permission). Have you read an article or blog post that you think your newsletter readers will find interesting? Contact the author and ask him/her for permission to reprint the article in your own newsletter.

For example, a local insurance agent I know republished a Christmas safety tips article written by a local fire chief. He requested and received permission to re-run the article (giving the chief full credit). Subsequently, the agent received numerous telephone calls thanking him for sharing such valuable tips. The customers were calling him!

When you share articles with your readers, don't forget to ask those readers for their opinions on the subject matter. Link them to your Facebook Page to join the discussion. They can also comment on Twitter using a hashtag to brand the discussion. Starting a discussion builds engagement between you and your customers. This gives you insight into which topics resonate with your audience.

Answer Questions. Are there questions your customers frequently ask about your products and/or services? List the questions and share your answers in your newsletter. Other customers or members probably have many of the same questions, and will be interested in your responses. If you don't have a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section on your website, work with your customers to determine the top questions that are asked every month via telephone, email, social media or personal contact. Use only one or two questions per issue, and keep your answers brief.

Sojos Dog Food puts a Questions and Answer section in many of its monthly newsletters. For instance, the January newsletter featured a question regarding whether or not bone meal should be added to Sojos dog food. The company does a great job of explaining bone meal, and then suggests other alternatives that are better sources of calcium for dogs. Now that's content a dog owner will find valuable.

Promote area events. Share area events that could be of interest to your readers. Include links for them to find out more details. Providing these fun resources can be a great way to get your newsletter opened consistently.

In Manchester, N.H., Red Oak Properties' newsletters are a perfect example of promoting area events by using readily available information as content. While its business is in apartment rentals, Red Oak's newsletters contain a wealth of area happenings to show off the vibrant community lifestyles around their properties. Red Oak also repurposes this content onto its social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. For readers who decide these are the types of communities for them in Manchester, Red Oak Properties will be top of mind and the first place they'll go when looking for a rental.

If the content you share resonates with your readers and gets them to engage with you, then your newsletter is successful. Your readers care that you share valuable information with them -- not whether you've personally written all of the content. Using any of these simple tips will help you create a great, content-rich newsletter.

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