How to Find Newsletter Ideas (That are Engaging, Helpful, and Fun to Read!)

How to Find Newsletter Ideas (That are Engaging, Helpful, and Fun to Read!)
Charlene Boutin
Charlene Boutin Jun 26, 2020 — 9 min read
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So you just took the plunge and started an email list.

You have everything in place – the proper tools, an optimized website that turns visitors into subscribers…

But you’re still scratching your head wondering how the heck you’re supposed to come up with newsletter ideas to send to your subscribers.

There’s a lot to be confused about, too. Are you supposed to always promote your products or services in your newsletter? What else can you write about? Is it okay to write about other topics, too?

The short answer: yes, and you absolutely should write about something other than promotions. Your subscribers will keep reading your emails when they are engaging, helpful, and actually fun to read!

Why should you write newsletters in the first place?

Building your email list is important, but won’t be much use to you if you don’t… well, email your list.

The point of having subscribers is to have the ability to reach a part of your audience directly in their inbox, without paying more to get their attention.

But if your subscribers never hear from you, they’ll be less likely to open your newsletters when you finally decide to send some.

Subscribers need to be nurtured. And that nurturing effort is one of the best investments you can make to get a powerful ROI – email still has an average of 42x ROI! This means that every dollar spent on email marketing will get you 42 dollars back.

Despite what some people may say – that email is dying, or sending too many emails is a waste of time and money – the numbers don’t lie. Email still works.

And it works amazingly.

Fun newsletter content ideas to grow your business

Newsletters can come in all shapes and sizes depending on their purpose. When entrepreneurs think of a “newsletter”, various monthly newsletter ideas often come to mind, but this is only the first of many types you can send to your subscribers.

How to come up with monthly (or weekly) newsletters topics

The great news – it’s up to you whether you want to send a monthly, bi-weekly, weekly, or even daily newsletter.

Typically, these recurring newsletters will occur whether or not there are any special promotions happening at the time.

Their purpose is to maintain an engaged subscriber list and stay top of mind in your industry.

You can also use newsletters to nurture trust.

Recurring newsletters can be about almost anything you want. Although they can include promotions, they certainly don’t have to, and increasing sales shouldn’t be their core purpose.

For example, you can start a series of curated newsletters. The curated newsletter ideas can come from a variety of sources, such as:

  • 💡 Your blog, podcast, channel, video series
  • 💡 Customers using your products in creative ways
  • 💡 Someone else’s content you think your subscribers would enjoy
  • 💡 A list of businesses, artists, and content creators related to your business

Chanti Zak, who is a service provider and course creator, sends out a weekly newsletter called the Sunday Setlist. These newsletters are a collection of things that made her laugh, music she’s enjoying, and other relevant media, content, products, and more that she believes are worthy of sharing.

Curated content newsletter example from Chanti Zak

Chanti does not share info about her products or services in these emails. Instead, they are a fun way for her subscribers to get to know her and be entertained.

Curated newsletters can be much simpler, too. They can discuss a single piece of content instead of a curated list.

Amy Porterfield, a social media expert, often does this in her newsletters. Whether she’s sharing a link to her podcast or sending you over to another resource from someone else she respects, every email tells her subscribers exactly WHY they should check it out.

Newsletter idea built around a piece of content from Amy Portfield

If you have a recurring content calendar, definitely take the time to tell your subscribers when a new content piece has been published.

But make sure the newsletter contains added value instead of just telling your subscribers:

“Hey, we published a new post, here it is.”

Take some time to frame the topic and tell them who this is for, and why they should care.

Of course, the content itself can make up your newsletter. You don’t have to link to an outside resource to share value.

The goal of your newsletter can be simply to be read instead of getting subscribers to click on a link.

For instance, Breaking the One Percent shares their tips and tricks on increasing affiliate revenue directly in this edition of their weekly newsletter.

Breaking the One Percent shares helpful tips with their readers in a newsletter

They also share a monthly newsletter that outlines how their revenue breaks down for the past month. Because they help people make money from blogging, this breakdown of revenue is extremely helpful to aspiring bloggers who crave transparency from someone who has a lot to teach them.

Another way to build trust is to use your newsletters to showcase your happy customers.

Case studies can be a great newsletter idea and take a variety of forms. For instance, you can:

  • Create a hashtag to collect photos of clients on social media and assemble them in your newsletter

  • Ask for videos of clients using your products or services and edit case study videos

  • Interview a client and write a detailed story based on that interview

  • Screenshot positive comments to include in your newsletter

Screenshots of positive comments can also be used for promotional newsletters, which we’ll cover later. But here is what it can look like within your email:

Example of using case studies and customer testimonials in a newsletter

Customer stories don’t have to be the only stories you tell. Storytelling is an incredibly powerful way to bond with your subscribers. Whether your newsletters are written in your point of view or the point of view of the collective “we” of your brand, don’t be afraid to share personal stories.

These stories can take the form of lessons learned, origin stories for your offers, or entertaining events that happen behind the scenes in your business.

Tarzan Kay, who teaches entrepreneurs about writing awesome emails, always weaves stories or anecdotes of her life in her emails. Her emails always start out with those stories instead of wasting time on trivialities.

Inspiring newsletter intro example from Tarzan Kay

Her subscribers have a solid idea of who she is as a person, and this allows them to connect with her and learn to trust her over time. This helps her achieve 5 and 6-figure launches several times a year.

Of course, you have the option to highlight your offers in your newsletters, too. But those highlights don’t have to be the sole focus of your newsletter – they can occupy a small section.

Product highlights don’t have to be a simple photo of your product with a link to shop. You can take some time to tell a story about that product, too, or describe various use cases to make your newsletter more fun to read.

Holiday newsletter ideas

During the holidays – whichever you decide to celebrate with your business – your status quo monthly or weekly newsletters can be replaced by something more thematic and timely.

Holiday-style newsletter ideas can also work for non-holiday events, such as the beginning of summer.

EyeBuyDirect uses the beginning of summer as a topic for their newsletter

Some holiday newsletter ideas you can use include, but are not limited to:

  • Limited-edition products or services

  • Holiday promotions (like pictured above)

  • Holiday-themed case studies from your customers

  • Behind-the-scenes of what your team is doing during that holiday

  • Holiday-themed tips and tricks that are relevant to your email subscribers

  • “12 days of Christmas” style sequence with a different product or service showcased every day

Holidays are a great time to run special promotions, but you don’t have to just write about promotions, either. The more creative you get with your newsletters, the more you will entertain your subscribers and stand out from your competitors.

Newsletter ideas for promotions

Promotions are used by most companies who have email marketing in their arsenal. But they can be so much more than announcing your latest sale!

Of course, you can use typical promotional newsletter topics such as:

  • Limited time sales and special deals

  • Contests and giveaways

  • Coupons for discounts

Here is a typical promotional newsletter example. Reitmans, a women’s clothing company, sends out an email with tempting mid-season sale offers.

Reitman sends out mid-season sale newsletters to their subscribers

Each promotional newsletter can work on its own. However, you can start planning a promotional sales sequence, too.

Sales sequences are a pre-scheduled group of newsletters that are set to be sent out on a specific date and time. Typically, they are used during a launch-style promotion for higher-ticket products or services. The goal of the sales sequence is to sell a specific offer that is expiring once the sequence ends.

A sales-sequence newsletter example from Writers in Charge

Your sequence needs to give a good reason to your subscribers to buy right NOW and not a month or a year from now.

In some cases, the offers showcased in a sales sequence are only available during these launch periods. In other cases, they are available year-round, but during the launch, they come with a set of expiring bonuses that greatly increase the value of the offer.

Here’s an important tip to keep in mind if you are going to run a sales sequence – always give the option to unsubscribe from that specific sequence. When your subscribers can choose not to hear about an offer that doesn’t interest them, they will be more likely to remain subscribed.

When they don’t, they may unsubscribe entirely from your list.

However, losing subscribers isn’t always a bad thing. Another type of promotional sequence you can create is a re-engagement sequence. It has a dual purpose – re-engage subscribers who aren’t opening your emails, and scrub your list of those who haven’t re-engaged.

Yes, you read that right – deleting subscribers is actually a healthy habit to upkeep your email list.

Over time, many subscribers won’t bother to unsubscribe, even though they never open your emails anymore. Because most email marketing tools make you pay per subscribers, you don’t want to keep those around.

You can set up a pre-existing re-engagement sequence to attempt to revive inactive subscribers with special offers. Depending on which email marketing tool you have, this sequence can get sent automatically when subscribers don’t open your emails for a set amount of time.

If they don’t open the emails from that sequence either, your tool can automatically delete them.

If you prefer to avoid automation, you can do this yourself as well. Most tools will allow you to see which subscribers are “cold” or “inactive”. You can then email these people yourself, and choose what to do if they don’t open.

There are two more pre-scheduled promotional newsletter ideas you should consider implementing. The first is a must for ANY product-based business – the abandoned cart sequence.

This newsletter only goes out when an existing subscriber leaves something in their cart and doesn’t purchase. You can remind them to complete their purchase before their cart gets reset after a certain amount of time.

Here is a cart abandonment email reminder from Banana Republic.

Banana republic cart abandonment email example

In many cases, people just forget about what they left in their cart. If they do have the intention of buying, but have forgotten about it, this type of sequence will help you boost ecommerce sales effortlessly.

It won’t work for every single abandoned cart, but this should improve your conversion rate significantly compared to having no sequence at all.

Finally, you can create an upsell or cross-selling newsletter. These newsletters should get sent to subscribers who have purchased a given product or service, and they should be related to what they bought.

For example, if you offer branding services and someone purchased a logo, you can try to upsell them a complete branding package, or cross-sell a font package.

If you are selling fishing gear and someone buys a fishing rod, they would probably be interested in tackle or a supply of fishing lines.

I recently bought nail polish from the Holo Taco brand. Because they know I probably polish my nails, they made sure to notify me when they launched a nail file.

A cross-selling email example from HOLO TACO

Feedback and testimonial requests

Remember those case studies and client success stories we talked about earlier?

In order to source stories for these types of newsletters, you will need to advise your audience that you want to hear from them!

Although you can do this on social media and start a hashtag specifically for this purpose, you can call for more specific feedback in your newsletters, too.

Asking for testimonials and feedback can take various forms. You can ask your subscribers to fill in a survey, reply to a single question via email, or fill in a review on Google or other review platforms.

Mid-day squares sends an automated newsletter to ask for customer feedback

When your subscribers accept your request, it’s important to acknowledge the effort they took. This is especially important if you don’t have many subscribers.

For example, I recently bought a product that I absolutely loved and emailed the brand directly. Here is the response they sent me only a few hours later.

Brand response example to acknowledge the effort customers take when providing feedback

Your customers – and their stories – are incredibly important to the success of your business. Some brands even run contests that you can only enter if you leave a review.

Vary your newsletter ideas and keep your subscribers on their toes

Feel free to play around with these newsletter topics – you don’t have to box yourself in a given topic and never stray from that style of newsletter again.

You can also choose to stick with one formula and keep it that way forever, if that is what your subscribers find entertaining.

The newsletter topics you choose should also depend on what type of subscribers you have and what kind of brand voice you want to showcase.

Now open up your content calendar and start planning away!

Charlene Boutin is a B2B writer for hire specialized in creating compelling case studies, blog posts, and converting copy for digital entrepreneurs and SaaS businesses. When not writing, she can be found prototyping weird games in Unity or playing on her Nintendo Switch.

Main illustration by Icons8

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