How to Imporve Your Email Newsletters (Even if You Don’t Know What to Write)

Hanne   43

Updated on January 26, 2024

Ever get that sinking feeling when you know you should send a newsletter to your subscribers but you just don't know what to write?

You know emailing your list regularly (and not only when you have something to sell) will help your business grow in the long term but you didn’t publish anything on your blog so you have nothing new to send to your subscribers, right?

You open MailChimp, click on New Campaign and already start feeling the need to check your Facebook or go brush your teeth.

It’s now 2 hours later, and it’s starting to get dark outside.

You decide to call it a day.

That newsletter? You’ll send it another time. Maybe tomorrow, or next week, but for sure next month.

Mailing your list shouldn’t be hard (even if you didn’t publish anything new)! Let me show you.


5 Simple Tips to Improve Your Email Newsletter

Newsletters are an incredibly effective marketing tools (why else would so many businesses invest time in them). The problem is, most newsletters aren't achieving their aims, so what's the deal?

Let's look at 5 simple tips you can use to make your newsletters more effective.

1. Take a Step Back and Strategize

It's difficult to sit down and think of an amazing newsletter idea on the spot. 

What's much easier is you give your newsletter the same level of focus as your other marketing strategies and begin to plan the content out. When you create a calendar for your newsletter, it's enables you to explore themes on a deeper level and settle into a better workflow. 

If you’re stuck because you don't know what to write, you’re probably too focused on what you think a “newsletter” should look like.

Two common myths about newsletters are:

  • If you have a blog, you should only send a newsletter when you publish a new article.
  • If you have an e-commerce website, you should only send a newsletter with promotions or when you add new items to your inventory.

As long as you believe this, you’ll get stuck. No new blog posts or promotions will always mean no newsletter. Before you know it, you've become a stranger to your subscribers.

Let’s try a whole different approach. Ready?

Stop thinking about writing a newsletter - start thinking about how to engage with your audience!

Click to Tweet

Now write down all your ideas and create a content schedule for your newsletter.

2. What Action Do You Want the Reader to Take?

Let’s be clear here, behind every email address on your list, there is a real person reading your email so forget about everything you think a newsletter should be and ask yourself these questions:

  • How do you want your reader to FEEL when reading your email?
  • What do you want them to DO after reading it?

Answer these two questions and you’ll never need to worry about what you should write in your newsletter ever again!

Let me give you some examples:

  • As a health coach, I want my readers to feel motivated to take action to get into better shape and I want them to let me know about it in my Facebook group.
  • As an SEO expert I want my readers to feel informed about the latest updates and I want them to endorse my expertise on LinkedIn.
  • As an e-commerce store owner, I want my readers to be excited about the latest arrivals and I want them to check out the details on my website.

Need some inspiration?

Here are some common emotions you can aim to evoke within your reader:

  • Positive and lively: amusement, delight, elation, excitement, happiness, joy, pleasure, caring, affection, empathy, friendliness, love.
  • Positive thoughts: courage, hope, pride, satisfaction, trust
  • Quiet positive: calmness, contentment, relaxation, relief, serenity.
  • Reactive: interest, politeness, surprise.

And some actions you could ask your readers to take:

  • On Social media: follow you, share a post, like a post, comment on a post, tag a friend, share their own content with a certain hashtag, join you for a live broadcast, …
  • On Your Website: comment, buy, opt-in for a webinar or free course, …
  • Other: reply to the email, forward the email, contact you on Skype, book an appointment,...

Want to build your list faster? Check out Thrive Leads, the most advanced list building plugin for WordPress.

3. Add Variety to Spice Up Your Offerings

Now that you know how you want your readers to feel, it’s time to discover HOW you can use your newsletter to trigger this feeling.

Let’s not over complicate this, in essence there are only 3 things you can send to your subscribers:

  1. Your own content
  2. Other people's content
  3. Stories

But within these 3 elements, there are infinite ideas you can explore. 

You might drop a 2 line "knowledge bomb," or you might write a long opinion piece on a subject that's close to your heart. You may lean on images or gifs, or you might simply go with text. 

It's completely up to you, but remember, variety is the spice of life!

Send Your Own Content

When you publish new content online, you can send this content to your subscribers.

Just to be clear, I’m not only talking about a new article on your blog.Think about content in the largest possible way.

This can be a video, a picture, a poem, a presentation, a drawing, a review, a book recommendation, a quote, an interview, a press appearance, …

And this does not necessarily has to be NEW content.

You probably have content that your new subscribers don’t know about (and that your longtime subscribers forgot about). As long as your content is evergreen, you can send it again in a newsletter.

Become Their Trusted Source

There is immense value in sifting through a ton of information and only sharing the important stuff.

Click to Tweet

The information overload struggle is real. Every moment thousands of videos are uploaded and millions of words are published.

Having a trusted source is extremely useful for your audience!

Think about it: you are the expert in your field, so you know what’s going on and you probably read a lot about your topic to stay on top of your skills. Why not leverage this knowledge and communicate it to your audience?

Even if you’re not the one who created the content, you’re the one who brought it to their attention and who makes it easy for them to digest and this is as valuable as creating new content.

Simply Be Entertaining

Finally, the category that’s often forgotten: no links, no content, just a story.

You do not always need to find new and exciting stuff to send to your audience. Talk about your experiences, your opinions, your clients’ achievements,... Everybody loves a good story.

As long as you’re clear about the feeling you want to trigger and the action you want people to take after reading, you’ll find something interesting to tell!

If you want to see some great examples of just how powerful this storytelling type of email can be, check out Andre Chaperon's stuff.

4. Connect with Your Audience Through Emotions

To make your newsletters even more actionable, here are some things you can send to your audience based on the feelings you want to trigger:

Motivation - Desire - Enthusiasm - Hope

  • Send a before and after success story: this can be a story of one of your clients (before using your product/service and after), a case study you’ve found online (with your expert insights) or a case study you’ve published on your website.
  • Find a quote you like and send it to your audience. Explain why you like the quote so much (bonus points if you turn it into a nice image and make it super shareable).
  • Encourage your audience to take action by sending them 1 thing they can do today.
  • If you have an e-commerce store, pick one of your items and show different ways of using it.

Trust - Relief - Serenity

  • Send a roundup about the best content in your field from around the web (or on your website). Give a little summary about each piece of content.
  • Tell a story about a problem and how your product or service solved the problem (again this can be a story about one of your clients or a story you found online).

Happiness - Joy - Amusement

  • Often you can find cartoons, animation videos, memes,... in your field send them to your subscribers (always add a personal touch by telling them why you think this is funny, amusing, …)
  • Share a personal story about something that made you happy.
  • Give something away for free or share a good tool/resource you found online

5. Be Your Audience's Guide

Whenever we write something, it's because we want the reader to take some kind of action.

Even if it's just an email to your colleague, you want them to read it - so you spend a little time on the structure and the subject line to maximize the chances they pay attention to it. 

In marketing, our goals are so obvious to us that we sometimes take them for granted. We don't explicitly ask for what we want, because it's obvious, right?

Well, no. 

Your goals aren't obvious to the readers. You've got to make sure you're the tour guide and you're leading them into the action you want them to take. If not, it's probably not going to happen.

By asking your readers to do something, you turn your newsletter into a conversation rather than an email blast. 

This can be pretty simple. Just keep in mind the following rules:

One Thing and One Thing Only

You should only have one call to action in your email. What's most important? For your readers to hit reply to the email? Or for them to follow you on Facebook? Choose one action par email.

Be Super Specific

You want your readers to comment on your blog post? Ask them a specific question and you'll get more answers. If you want your readers to act, make sure they know exactly what to do.

Make It Dead Easy 

Don't make your readers jump through hoops to do what you want them to do.

You want them to subscribe to your channel on Youtube? Use a link like this (click on it and you'll see what I mean 😉 )

You want them to send a message to a friend? Include the text so that they can copy & paste.

Every time, ask yourself: What can I do to make this easier and faster for my reader?

Now it’s your turn.

Next time you feel stuck about sending your newsletter, focus on “how to feel” instead of “what to send” you’ll open up a whole new world of possibilities!

What do you think about this method? Are you going to apply it to your newsletter?

by Hanne  June 8, 2016


Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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Leave a Comment

  • Great post very informative with actionable steps anyone can take to get their readers more engage and active.. Surely, something I look forward to putting into action.

  • Hi Hanne! This is one of the most helpful article I’ve read on content marketing, let alone email marketing. Great, great job!

  • Funny how everyone is now jumping on the newsletter bandwagon. Yet you manage to take a wonderful new approach to the topic that provides us with actionable details.

    Well played!

    (And you are right: that Youtube link was “cute” :->)

  • Super refreshing post Hanne! I like the 3 kinds of triggers you can use as a starting point for writing your emails: first ask yourself: what kind of emotion do I want to trigger. Thnx!

  • Great article with eay-to-follow and practical information. Probably the best thing is how Shane and his team e.g. Hanne walk their talk.

  • Thanks Hanne for this excellent guide on what to write in our emails! Not many posts out there talk about this, so this is very useful. I particularly like the “Before and After” and “One thing you can do today” emails – Great ideas for email content your subscribers will actually want to read.

  • Hi Hanne,
    Excellent article. It’s funny – a friend of mine was recently insisting that she was not receiving my newsletter.

    But in the same conversation she mentioned info that I had sent in my newsletter.

    Because I wrote the email in a conversational tone, she did not realize that it was actually my newsletter that she was reading.

    So, while I still have to hone my craft, what you are saying makes complete sense!

  • Thanks very much for this Hanne, really timely. It seems that you described me to a ‘T’ then gave me the answers I need to communicate in a good way with my list. I did originally start a list and had a good few dozen subscribers, but saw it dwindle over time as I struggled to keep in touch.

    • Hi David, thanks for sharing. This happens a lot. Communicating through email with subscribers is a skill and luckily you can learn it and become better and better at it 🙂
      You’ll see, communicating regularly with your subscribers will help your business grow (and the more you do it, the easier it becomes!)

  • Good article. But I’m curious about this “Hanne knows exactly what companies have ever retargeted her (she keeps an updated file).” WHY do this, and why mention it in your profile?

    • Hi Mark,

      Because I’m a marketing geek 😀 I’m always curious to see how other companies market to me. This gives me ideas about how to (not) do things.
      I’m constantly taking screenshots from opt-in forms to retargeting ads and sometimes this even inspires me to write an article like the one about a new trend in opt-in forms

  • Thanks Hanne , I liked the article and it’s a great reminder of those emotions we forget when we write emails and newsletters

    • Hi Darren,
      Yeah to many people forget that there are actually real humans reading their message (and that it’s not just the size of the list that’s important)

  • I love the intro to your article. Almost thought you were writing about FocusMe (because this kind of procrastination happens to all of us. Therefore I usually only allow thrive/wordpress & activecampaign and block everything else. But maybe I should block this blog as well, and write an email to our subscribers instead 😉

    I love Thrive and great article!

    • Please don’t block us 😉 But yeah we’ll always find distractions to procrastinate from what we really have to do. Funny thing is that we do it even if we KNOW it will help the business grow!

  • Fantastic suggestions! I made a number of notes to refer back to when I create my newsletter. How did you create the YouTube popup to confirm subscription?

  • Hanne, this was a very entertaining and informative article. Your opening paragraphs described me exactly… sitting there, wondering what to write about, and feeling the Facebook urge instead. This will help me a lot. Thanks!

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