You’re probably not alone if the idea of a company newsletter doesn’t quite fit into your definition of cutting-edge content marketing opportunities. And yet, a newsletter can offer value as an integral piece of your overall content marketing strategy.
Consider the key objectives or attributes you might assign to any other marketing component:
- To provide relevant, compelling, SEO-rich content
- To establish authority/expertise/thought leadership
- To offer opportunities to share on social media
A company newsletter can let you check all of these boxes – and more.
Still, it’s important to think carefully about whether a newsletter is right for your business. You need to understand exactly what you’re committing to, and you need to ensure you do it right.
Here are eight important questions to consider.
Who will write the content?
A newsletter is going to demand an investment of time from you or your staff. In fact, the research and background work required to fill a newsletter will likely be considerably more than what a couple of blog posts might require.
Where will story ideas come from?
Readers may expect more from a newsletter article than a blog post. You need to build a stable of relevant, engaging topics that will sustain your newsletter going forward.
You don’t necessarily need a detailed editorial calendar that stretches out for months (after all, you want to be flexible enough to be able to react to events in the marketplace), but you do need to have enough potential topics to build two or three issues into the future.
How will you cultivate sources?
An offshoot of your story idea conversation should be a discussion of who you’ll tap as sources for those stories. Unlike a blog, where you can frequently rely on information obtained from third-party research, newsletter articles should include information and quotes directly from your sources.
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A few things to keep in mind when it comes to sources:
- Try to build a roster of potential sources that includes a wide range of subject matter experts, so you’ll always have one or two names you can reach out to when any particular story idea comes up.
- Sources don’t have to be people you know well or already have talked to, but you should have some degree of confidence they’ll have the availability and interest to talk to you if you call. It be helpful to reach out to these contacts with a general introduction and inquire as to whether they’d be willing to speak with you at some point down the road, rather than waiting until you’re under the weight of a looming deadline.
- The bigger your source list, the better. It’s great to keep returning to good sources who have consistently provided excellent quotes, but in the long run your newsletter will benefit from a wide range of voices and viewpoints.
How will your newsletter be published or distributed?
Typically, you’ll want to make your newsletter available online. These days, the bigger question is whether you’ll also provide a print version. Print can be expensive, so try to get a good feel for what your audience wants before committing to a distribution strategy.
Even in this technological age, you may find that your audience (or some segment of it) actually prefers a hard copy rather than simply another email or ping on their phone.
Will your newsletter be public or subscription-only?
Like white papers and ebooks, a company newsletter lends itself to be gated behind a landing page or subscription form. Given the time and effort it takes to produce a well-researched, well-written and well-designed newsletter, you may want to make it available only to those visitors who provide information to you in exchange and/or agree to receive other promotional messages from you.
How often do you plan to publish?
This should ideally be part of the same conversation surrounding story ideas and authorship questions. How much work will it take to produce your company newsletter? What types of resources will you need to do it right? The answers to these questions will help determine whether you’re able to publish bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly.
How can you maximize the reach of your newsletter?
You may have a great database of dedicated readers. But you’ll be missing out on the true potential of your hard work if you don’t extend your reach via:
Tweet out publication dates, story topics, source names, etc. to drum up interest in forthcoming issues and bring in more traffic to your newsletter landing page. Also, be sure to send the finished stories to your sources, so they can share the articles with their own followers and spread your influence.
If your newsletter content is gated, give non-subscribing visitors to your website a taste of what they’re missing by publishing the first few paragraphs of a great article and letting them know how they can read more.
Especially if your company newsletter is only published a few times a year, give those occasions the rollout they deserve by letting the world know when a new issue is available.
How will you set goals and measure effectiveness?
Similar to your other content efforts, you need to build an analysis and evaluation process into your strategy. You’ll want to be able to answer such questions as:
- What are your readership goals?
- How fast is your subscriber list growing?
- Which topics drive the most reader engagement?
- How can we increase this engagement?
Given the time and resources needed to do it right, a company newsletter is not something to be undertaken lightly. But if you plan correctly and put in the effort to produce something that truly offers your audience value, this very “traditional” medium may demonstrate the kind of expertise and thought leadership that has visitors seeing your company in a whole new light.
A blog is another great way to demonstrate your expertise and grow your business, and may help you determine if a company newsletter makes sense. To start mapping out all the tactics that you need to include in your communication strategy, download our helpful Editorial Calendar Template and create a cohesive, strategic 90-day content plan.