How to Create an Email Newsletter People Want to Read

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The world we live in today is competitive, so it can be hard to find a way to make your brand stand out!

This is especially the case when it comes to email marketing. Consumers are bombarded with emails from brands every day, so how can you cut through the clutter and create a newsletter people actually want to read?

While email marketing can be challenging, it’s also an amazing tool to reach your audience. So, at our 2018 Workshop, we’re bringing in expert Lindsey Quinn from The Hustle! Lindsey is a pro at connecting with audiences through a unique, authentic brand voice. Read along to get to know Lindsey and get a sneak peek at what she’ll be teaching at her Workshop session!

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are today!

I went to college in Pittsburgh for biomedical engineering — not the traditional path for a business/tech writer. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I was a practical Midwesterner convinced that working in tech was the only way I’d ever be able to get a job, so during school I took every internship opportunity, trying desperately to find something I loved:

I formulated surgical glue for a year, I worked in a lab where my job was to massage 50 obese lab mice with lotion (Every. Single. Day), and finally, I had an internship at a giant chemical company in Ohio, creating market research reports in a tiny grey cubicle in a sea of other cubicles.

But, I realized I could do my job in about 3 hours a day, and the rest of the time I started writing. They were just funny stories I’d send to a handful of friends, but it was the most fun I’d ever had at work, and from that point on I was determined to figure out a way to write for a living.

I started freelancing for engineering companies I’d worked for (I think the first thing I got paid to write was a blog for a plumber’s trade magazine. I was ecstatic). Eventually I landed a content marketing job in San Francisco for a small software startup, and ultimately got introduced to The Hustle by a coworker who thought I’d like their writing style.

My coworker was right, and The Hustle was hiring. So, I wrote a funny cover letter, cold emailed them, and it ended up being an amazing fit. Now I’m The Hustle’s managing editor, which is a lot like back in the day — but now I’m sending funny news stories to half a million friends, not just a handful.

In today’s world, everyone is creating content to promote their business. How can having a unique voice help you stand out in the crowd?

So many businesses focus on “talking the talk,” and using industry buzzwords to sound legitimate. But the reality is, people don’t talk the way that marketers talk — and they can sniff out marketing speak from a mile away.

That means that writing from an authentic point of view in a way that is personable and real can be a huge differentiator — and the best part is, you don’t need any special expertise, you just have to speak from a place of truth on a topic that resonates with you and your audience.

Creating content that sounds like it came from a real person is easy, because (hopefully) you are one. Not only is it more interesting to read, it can build an insanely loyal following that is rooting for your company to succeed.

"People don’t talk the way that marketers talk -- and they can sniff out marketing speak from a mile away."

What are 5 key things that all pieces of good content have in common?

  1. 1

    It’s authentic (written from a clear, unique point of view)

  2. 2

    It’s valuable to the reader (be it entertaining, informative, or thought provoking)

  3. 3

    It’s concise

  4. 4

    You would send it to a friend

  5. 5

    It’s fun to write

Today, our inboxes are saturated with emails. How does a company like The Hustle stand out in subscribers’ inboxes?

Our witty, authentic tone is the #1 thing our readers say they love about us. All that means is that we write like we speak.

People are insanely sick of reading marketing bullsh*t. We give readers the news they need to stay informed and sound smart in front of their their coworkers, but there are a million business newsletters out there. Reporting the news in a funny, entertaining way is what gets people to open our stuff, not finding out about the latest merger (eye-catching subject lines like, “BEEP BEEP MOTHERTRUCKER,” don’t hurt).

At the end of the day, we love writing it, and I think that comes through in the final product. If a story’s not fun to write, it’s not gonna be fun to read.

What are some common mistakes you see businesses make when it comes to their newsletter?

A lot of businesses try so hard to appeal to a mass audience that they forget to speak to an actual individual that exists in the world. If you wouldn’t send your newsletter to a friend, why would would you send it to thousands of people?

Real people are a lot more complex than the marketing profiles we create for them — if you can connect with even a small group of them, you’ll gain long term supporters that are far more valuable.

The other big mistake I see is not respecting the audience’s time. You have a vested interest in your story — it’s your company. But your reader is busy, and if it’s not adding value to their lives, they’re not gonna read it. Keep it short and sweet, and put yourself in the reader’s shoes: would you open this email everyday if someone else asked you to subscribe?

 

"Real people are a lot more complex than the marketing profiles we create for them -- if you can connect with even a small group of them, you’ll gain long term supporters that are far more valuable."

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start incorporating email newsletters into their marketing strategy, but doesn’t know where to start?

Start with the need: what do people need to know to improve their lives on a daily or weekly basis. The Hustle started as a blog, but our readers didn’t need stories about founders microdosing LSD, or longform profiles on quirky entrepreneurs everyday.

The majority of our readers are entrepreneurial millennials, so we started sending them business/tech news stories to help them make better decisions at work, spark conversations with their boss or coworkers, or just stay motivated.

Sometimes your product doesn’t directly translate to a regular newsletter, but something related to your brand or audience might. (AKA, if you’re a hot tub company, you’re probably not going to send a daily newsletter about hot tub maintenance, but you might send one with tips on throwing great parties).

What can our attendees expect to learn at your Workshop?

At my Workshop, attendees can expect to learn how to throw out traditional marketing buzzwords and write a blog or newsletter that real humans actually want to read.

On the newsletter side, they’ll learn the kinds of content that work best for daily/weekly emails, as well as actionable tips on how to optimize for deliverability, subject lines, and shareability. On the blog side, they’ll learn how to make their own individual perspective/identity come through in their content, and use it to build loyal fans of their business.

When you’re not busy at The Hustle, what can we find you doing?

I love being active and I’m a huge comedy and live music nerd, so you can find me any day of the week at a concert, comedy show, or swimming in the bay! (yes, it’s freezing)

Want to attend Lindsey’s Email Newsletter session at The Workshop? Be sure to grab your ticket before they sell out!

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