Three ways to optimise your company newsletter

 
 A newsletter can paves the way to great interactions with your audience

A newsletter can paves the way to great interactions with your audience

Intro

We just finished another project for Derby-based charity, Upbeat Communities - their regular newsletter, Upbeat Updates.

 A snapshot of the Upbeat Updates newsletter for Upbeat Communities

A snapshot of the Upbeat Updates newsletter for Upbeat Communities

Upbeat is a Christian charity that exists to help refugees settle and rebuild their lives in the UK. Its vision is to see strangers become neighbours..

You can have a browse through it below.

We've written about things to look out for it you are planning publicity for your campaign, as well as learning points for us. This should give you a well-rounded perspective.

1. Understand why a newsletter is important

  • A newsletter is a regular piece of communication to an audience, often weekly or monthly
  • In the business sector it would more commonly be a marketing piece with promotionals or inbound content*
  • There is a lot of added value in both cases
  • It helps you maintain contact with your audience, build trust and ultimately win customers or deeper engagement
  • A newsletter can communicate stories of impact and a charity's organisational values to supporters
  • For a business, it can provide a compelling view behind the scenes and demonstrate value of products and services to prospective customers
  • Either way, it provides a key part of delivering a marketing and communications strategy
Jargon: Content marketing is a strategy that focuses on attracting visitors via company-created content; potential customers come to the company rather than marketers vying for their attention. Source SearchCRM

What we learned

  • We ensured that our content gathering management processes were honed and ready, which is something we reviewed when we last worked with Upbeat
  • Content came via Upbeat's communications officer, Sam, and there were minimal changes thanks to the intake form at the start
  • If you missed it last time, we use Dubsado, a CRM for creatives, and if you're starting up an agency or as a freelancer, its a worth a look

 The focal story of the newsletter

The focal story of the newsletter

2. Put a plan in place

  • The value of newsletters is that they form part of an ongoing campaign, as one e-mail is never sufficient
  • The campaign may be as simple as staying current in your audience's mind or building trust through providing company insights (something that we do)
  • Regardless, you need plan otherwise I'm afraid you will be guilty of the cardinal sin of being active for the sake of it
  • As mentioned above, ideally your newsletter will form part of a wider communications and marketing strategy so feed into your business objectives
  • If you do it right, your company maillist will drive enquiries, generate leads or encourage donations, so directly impacting your bottom line
  • At an implementation level, you will need to plan your content some weeks or months ahead of time with a calendar or matrix
  • This will allow you to generate the actual content, which is often a blog, as well as be intentional about targetting current events that will resonate with your audience
Pro tip: Never be active for the sake of it - it is not efficient nor is it productive. Plan, review and constantly develop if you are not sure.

What we learned

  • Rachael, our graphic designer, worked closely with the Upbeat team to put together custom cut-out images
  • While we have constructed many MailChimp campaigns, this is the first PDF-style newsletter we've designed
  • We realised that there are some compromises
  • On the one hand you get a really smart, high quality look
  • On the other hand, it can't be duplicated and edited easily unless you have specialist software and skills
  • If you like this style of newsletter, our advice would be to ensure that it meets your marketing needs (budget, channels, audience), as it is more expensive

 A snapshot of the newsletter featuring a cut-out image

A snapshot of the newsletter featuring a cut-out image

3. Delegate responsibility & authority well

  • So, you've got your blog set up and a nice campaign template on MailChimp or your marketing platform of choice
  • Who's going to collect, compile, edit and run your newsletter campaigns - it's unlikely to be a director or your CEO, by the way
  • You need someone in place who is going to help generate content through your blog or resource area, manage an editorial calendar and then foster community engagement
  • Ideally, you want to build up a good following, and the best newsletters are anticipated and consumed avidly by audiences
  • Again, this won't happen overnight, and to maximise your chances and returns, you need someone dedicated to the job

What we learned

  • Before starting The Apple Yard, we did a lot of work in marketing and communications
  • Getting the right tools and processes in place are important
  • Things that have worked well for us are Trello (a drag and drop pinboard app), which you can even use for Human Resources (no joke)
  • Trello can handle your calendar, blogging rota, good ideas as well as internal guidelines for contributors
  • A good communications matrix is a core document and you can find many customisable templates if you do a quick Google search
  • The matrix allows you to view a lot of information at a glance (key events, social media posts, leading articles etc) and plan the core content of your campaign
Pro tip: If you do set up a comms matrix, make sure you can share and collaborate on it easily. Google Sheets is an easy, cost-efficient way to facilitate this.

 A snapshot of the events area - great way to keep your audience engaged with you

A snapshot of the events area - great way to keep your audience engaged with you

We hope you've enjoyed this week's blog. If you've got a website or a branding need, do get in touch - we'd love to chat and see how we can help you!