How To Write A Newsletter With Actionable Takeaways

David Jenyns
David Jenyns
Businesses have recognized the value of a company newsletter for a long time. A free newsletter is a great way to keep dialog open with customers and to leave an open door to sharing new services or products. Paid newsletters can increase the perceived value in information. But, are you getting everything that you possibly can out of the value of your newsletter?

Have you heard of something called actionable takeaways? If you aren’t familiar with the term now, you will surely want to become familiar with it to fully take advantage of your subscribers’ interest in what you have to offer. Actionable takeaways are your marketing edge to making sure that you not only capture your client interests, but to guarantee that they continue to come back week after week, month after month.

Do you want to learn more about choosing the best content for your newsletter and designing them to maximize the interest in your returning customers? Click to watch the video below.

Keen to watch more from the systemHUB live workshop? Sign up today for your free systemHUB trial – click here.

Video transcript:

Let’s presume that the product we’re selling is a premium newsletter. I know that sounds a bit weird. But I actually think there is a real movement towards premium newsletters. I think we’re going to see more of this over the next twelve to eighteen months. Why? People are time poor. People don’t want to spend a lot of time on the internet researching information. They want someone they trust to deliver them actionable insights in one neat package.

A newsletter can do a couple of things. It can service the customers who have bought it and it can attract referrals if it’s really good. The example I will give you is MarketBeat which is run by a guy named Matt Paulson, It is a stock market newsletter. He’s got a free newsletter and he’s got a paid newsletter.

We have a couple of newsletters. We have a free


Market beat

newsletter that goes out every Thursday called WordPress Wednesday, just to keep them on their toes, that’s a time zone thing. We have a Monday digest that goes out to all our paying customers. This is quite a detailed process because you cannot sell a premium newsletter subscription to someone and then just put an RSS feed into MailChimp and send that out. It’s going to look terrible, it’s not going to be formatted right and there are going to be no actionable insights in that newsletter. So I’m not talking about syncing up an RSS feed into MailChimp, there is a more detailed process that goes on. I’ll walk you through how we do it.

The first thing you need to do is collect headlines. Whatever your niche is, whatever your specialty is, just put yourself in the headspace now that you’ve got a thousand customers paying you $47 a month for a weekly newsletter that gives them actionable insights into whatever it is. It might be parenting, it might be bookkeeping, accounting, legal, whatever.

The first thing you want to do is collect your headlines. What is it we’re going to talk about? I’ll show you some tools later, but I just stick all my headlines in Evernote. I’ve just got a list of things that I want to talk about, ideas. I’ll get ideas today and I’ll park them in Evernote.

Then you want to theme them, put them in some kind of theme. You have different categories in your newsletter, or each week might be a different theme, a different category. Once your content is themed, we schedule out content on a calendar. Ok, we’ve got a promotion coming up in October around xyz, so we know the three weeks leading up to that, we want to be talking about this.

Around that, we want to be talking about this and this. We don’t want to be talking about the same thing all the time. We want to scatter our content out to make it interesting and engaging. So plan your content out on a calendar.

Then you want to source great hero images. That might be the image that is attached to the article that you find on the internet, but it might not be. Most images that are attached to articles on the internet either aren’t great or they’re not cropped well for your particular format. So you want to spend some time making sure your staff knows what a great hero image looks like, what good cropping looks like.

I think the way photos and the way images are presented on the internet are probably the lowest hanging fruit for all of us to up our game. I see a newsletter come out of our organization with an image that is really badly cropped and it is a live event. There is some guy in the background with a beer. You could have zoomed that in by five percent and cropped him out and it would have looked so much better. Pay attention to the way your visuals are representing your brand. You can systemise this and you can train your staff how to do this.

Then you want to write an engaging excerpt. Don’t rely on the RSS feed to give you a good excerpt. Unless you’re just curating HubSpot articles, most blogs and most online assets aren’t going to have engaging, well written excerpts. An engaging excerpt, you guys know what this is about. It’s designed to sell the click, it’s designed to get them to click on the link and open it.

Bear in mind, one of the things I’m talking about here is not sending out a newsletter of all your content, but curating some of your content and lots of other content from around the web and delivering that to your clients. You just want to get people to click on the links and go through and read the article, whether they’re yours or someone else’s. So make sure you write really engaging excerpts.

Then this is absolutely key. Write actionable takeaways. Here is this information we’ve curated for you but what does it actually mean? Mike did this really well in this morning’s presentation. He gave you some actionable things to do over the next two weeks. He said, the system for creating systems, if there is only one thing you can do in the next two weeks, then start putting in place the system for creating systems. Start videoing everything you do. That is an actionable insight.

The reason this matters is twofold. One, you’re going to remember this workshop more than other workshops if you actually go away and do something about it in your business. Two, the next time these guys run a workshop, you’re going to want to come along. You’ve actually got some benefit in your business rather than just being entertained and having an information overload.

So in a digital subscription model, an actionable takeaway will make your audience anticipate the next installment. There is no better example of this than if you subscribe to any body building or weight loss newsletter. Go and subscribe just for giggles, to any weight loss or body building newsletter.

If it’s a good one, they will give you actionable insights. So here is this ab crunch exercise that we found. Go and check this video out. You’ve got fourteen days to nail this and then we’re going to send you the next one which is all about losing the jiggle or tightening the thighs or expanding the triceps or whatever it is. They’re all full of actionable insights.

If you don’t do anything with the information, it loses value. If you do something with the information, it increases value and you anticipate the next installment. So when you get it, you open it and you’re less likely to bounce and unsubscribe. Again, that type of thing can be taught, it can be systemised and taught.

Then you’ve got to build the newsletter. I’ll show you a tool later on that allows you to do this really quickly. But we do it the old school way. We use WordPress and we use Advanced Custom Fields in the back end. We lay all our content out and all of the different fields and that produces HTML. We then copy and paste that into Infusionsoft and send. It’s not very elegant but it does the job.

Finally I think you want to schedule the newsletter to go out. You should never be writing an email newsletter the same day you’re sending it. That’s really bad form. If you’re writing or curating content for an email newsletter that you’re sending on the same day you’re sending it, then your system is broken. Never publish anything the same day you write it. That is really hard for me. I get an idea and I write it and I just want to publish it straight away. Always sleep on it, edit it the next day and then publish or have someone else edit it and then publish it.

Finally you want to measure and optimise it. You want to be looking at your click through rates. You want to be looking at your open rates. You want to be continually improving the content you’re putting out to increase your open rates and your click through rate, even if you’re doing this for a free newsletter.

I think the reason it is important to continually try to increase your open rates and your click through


Newsletter Creation Process

rates is you want to train your audience to click on the links you send them. When you do send them a link to click on, to come and buy tickets to a workshop, you get a roomful of people. You’ve continued to add value over that time in between your promotional material.

It’s really important with a paid subscription too. I know there is this myth that you get people to subscribe to your product and if half of them don’t use it, it doesn’t matter. It does. The half that are using are more likely to refer their friends, so you want as many as possible using your product because their referability increases. Also you don’t want people buying your product and not using it. That’s just bad form for everyone.

There are a certain percentage of people who will just never go to the gym, even though they’ve bought the membership. They’re rather weird, I don’t know what’s going on with them, but you can’t change them. But you want to minimise that as much as possible. You want people to engage with your product and get the benefit. It is great for virality and referability.

Writing a newsletter is one thing, but writing a great newsletter can take your customers’ interest from moderate to a new level of loyalty, interest, and greater word of mouth. If you would like to learn more about making your newsletter with actionable takeaways designed for success, please click here.

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