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Covering All the Bases: How to Make Sure Your Newsletters Get Opened and Read!
It’s not enough to prepare and distribute a monthly newsletter, one that offers information of genuine value to your market. You also have to make sure your newsletter gets opened and read! Covering letters provide reasons for recipients to open, download and read your newsletter each month.
Covering letters are ‘advertisements’ for each issue of your newsletter. In today’s time-starved environment, you have to provide good, solid reasons for recipients to stop what they’re doing and invest time reading your newsletter.
You should devote as much care to preparing your covering letters as you devote to the newsletters themselves.
Covering letters provide a bridge, between the recipient’s self-interest and the contents of your newsletters. Covering letters should describe how recipients will benefit from reading the current issue of your newsletter. Otherwise, your newsletter may go unread.
There are two types of covering letters: those distributed by email and those mailed in envelopes along with printed copies of your newsletter. Both types should begin with a ‘sales pitch.’
--Email covering letters. Use the subject line of text or HTML covering letters to encourage recipients to read attached copies or direct recipients to your web site where they can download the latest issue.
--Mailed covering letters. Include a ‘teaser’ on the outside of the envelope containing your newsletter and covering letter. Like the subject line of an email, the teaser should promise the benefits described in the covering letter and delivered in your newsletter.
Successful covering letters contain four essential elements:
1.Engagement – Engage recipients by showing familiarity with their problems and goals. Make it obvious that you understand their problems and can help solve them. A subject line or envelope teaser like: ‘June, 2004 Newsletter’ fails to provide recipients with a reason to read on.
‘June Newsletter: Cutting Employee Absenteeism’ does a better job of promoting newsletter content and encouraging readership.
The headline and first paragraphs of the email or covering letter should continue to engage by describing, in increasing detail, the benefits recipients will gain from reading your newsletter:
-What problems does the current issue address and solve?
-What goals will the current issue help your readers achieve?
2.Proof – Next, use the covering letter to prove the value of reading your newsletter:
-Case studies – Summarize case studies mentioned in your newsletter.
-Procedures – If your newsletter shows how to do a task, list the number of steps or describe one step in detail.
Whenever possible, include testimonials from individuals or clients who have successfully benefited from the ideas described in the current issue.
3.Next step – Show how to access your newsletter by:
-Opening the email attachment
-Downloading the newsletter from your website. (Make sure recipients can easily locate the specific page.)
-Clicking a link, but also include a URL in case the link doesn’t work.
4.Promotion – Encourage recipients to pass along your newsletter to associates and friends who might benefit from its content. Planting the ‘sharing seed’ each month can play a big role in increasing the size of your opt-in mailing list.
Before distributing, review your newsletter after completing your covering letter. Ask yourself:
-Headline: Does the headline develop the promise made in the letter?
-Content: Does my newsletter actually deliver the promised benefits?
Edit and rewrite your newsletter until you can answer ‘yes’ to both questions. And then use your covering letter to persuade recipients to open and read your newsletter.