Earlier this week I met with an agency leadership team that wants to launch a client-facing newsletter but felt pretty intimidated by the bandwidth their initial concept might require.
Picture this: as an agency sending a monthly email to current and past clients, they thought they’d need to create an original case study for each newsletter.
I’d be intimidated, too.
Especially if the hours to produce that sort of work on top of client work just aren’t there.
They’re not alone.
A majority of the hopeful newsletter creators I coach have this mix of emotions:
- Excitement to launch something new
- Fear of the effort it will require to repeat
I suggested they streamline their ambitions from a new case study each month to a touchpoint each month that may or may not include a case study but ALWAYS includes information their client base will find valuable... and that they figure out a way to add a bit of personality that showcases the ways they think / work to remind clients why they like working with them.
The stress on their faces visibly reduced.
They’d been thinking about the newsletter as needing to feel like a product (“look what we did”) instead of as a means of humanizing themselves and exposing the work culture they tend to hide behind a curtain in customer relations.
We left the meeting with me advising a newsletter with 3 or 4 sections max, starting with a personal introduction, including a mix of original and curated content they know will help their clients, and closing with something quirky / funny the readers might look forward to in each issue.
They’re also rethinking how polished a case study even needs to be for them to share work with clients. Maybe, instead of a formal page on their blog, it’s a short recorded screen share video of how they solved a UX problem for a client.
Will it require a bit of effort to launch? Yes.
But it doesn’t feel so heavy now that they’ve given themselves the grace to mix original and curated content and to only share case studies when they have the time to create them. Plus they’re excited that they can use it as a way to showcase who they are individually.
What they’re doing reminded me of this article the team at Audience Ops published a few months back. It addresses how content can play an important role in customer retention. Disclosure: Audience Ops is a Simple Focus Software company.
I believe the content we create for customers after they convert is just as important as the content we create to help them decide to convert. Newsletters are a natural way to stay in touch with existing customers.
And, if you’re thinking, “But, Ashley, I run a newsletter that I monetize through sponsorships so this really doesn’t apply to me,” my counter is that it’s so close it’s basically the same premise.
It’s just that in the case of a customer newsletter, your brand is the sponsor instead of 3rd party advertisers, which is what you get in this newsletter, right? Curated is the sponsor, but not in an obnoxious way.
- Give yourself the grace to send readers an email that doesn’t exhaust you.
- It’s better to send something with a mix of valuable original and curated content than to send nothing.
- Make it relationship-centric.
Are You On The Right Publishing Trajectory?
Faltering subscriptions, detrimental monetization strategies, and unexpected sales all make their appearance in this week’s Publishing Insights. Learn what you can do to avoid some of the same mistakes.
- The Guardian used to measure newsletter success by how many people clicked through to their website. Andrew Kersley reports that their strategy is changing.
- “Selling was not the plan, but it became the very best path for Quartz.” Laura Hazard Owen explains why Quartz sold to G/O media here.
- There’s been a lot of discussion about paywalls, and Mark Stenberg is adding to the mix. He’s written a “taxonomy of paywalls” and broken down the what, who, and why of the different types.
- That’s not all Mark Stenberg has to say. He also writes how faltering subscriptions could impact publishers who rely on affiliate revenue.
- Tobias Silber recently wrote about the detriments of clickbait in publishing. He begins, “When the sole motive is profit, publishers fail.”