How to write a good newsletter – Part 1

Why are there so many poor newsletters? The other day, I had a look at how many of the newsletters that I receive I actually like. I grouped them into three groups:

a) the ones that I really like – 23%

b) the ones I feel indiffierent about – 23%

c) the ones that I think are downright useless – 54%

I then unsubscribed from half of the newsletters that I was receiving.

What makes a good newsletter? I had a look at the ones that I liked and didn’t like. In short, I found only three newsletter formats that worked and one that was really a waste of time. The three formats that worked were:

1) You care about X, here are some special time limited deals

2) You care about news on X, here is ALL that you need to know in one view

3) You care about X, here are some X that you may have never heard about and that might interest you

There are some great newsletter that manage to combine several of these three aspects.

The worst newsletters are the bland corporate ones: ‘We thought you would like to know what has just happened at our company’. Ah. NO.

These kind of announcements should be somewhere on the news section of the corporate website, so that people who care about recent developments can get an impression, but they don’t belong in a newsletter. It is likely the only person who cares about your company is you. People who read newsletters care about the things that they care about, not your company (unless you are Apple of course).

In a small series of posts, I will have a look at the most interesting newsletters that I can find.

Let’s start with the limited deal format.

One of the best newsletter I have ever had the pleasure of subscribing to is sent out by

WineDirect is a UK based online wine shop. below, I have copied in a screen shot of their weekly newsletter:

winedirect newsletter

WineDirect combines several elements in their newsletter that work very well. First, they introduce you to a different winemaker every week. There is a pretty in depth description of the work of the wine maker that is genuinely interesting. Second, it lists several of the wines by that wine maker. These wines are available at a discount for one week. Each wine is described in detail with tasting notes, tasting scores, and the price (both original and discounted) which give me an immediate idea whether one of these wines might be of interest to me. Clicking on one of the hyperlinks takes you to the online page of the specific wine. Third, nothing else clutters this newsletter. It is all about the weekly special deals.

Overall, this is an exceptionally well made newsletter. I read it with interest every week. There are three reasons that I found why I read it:

1) It is genuinely interesting for somebody with an interest in wine

2) There may be some special deals in here that I might be really interested in

3) It doesn’t ‘push’, it isn’t loud. It is trying to be genuinely helpful.

Great stuff.

Part 2 of this series can be found here.

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4 thoughts on “How to write a good newsletter – Part 1

  1. Jens, great article. I found it very useful as I am thinking that we we close the fund at TTPV we should have some sort of regular communication with our key audiences (entrepreneurs, current & potential investors in our fund, advisors, etc). Not sure how to do that but one of my ideas is to have a quarterly newsletter that keeps us in touch with the relevant people…since you are a “marketing guru” and def one of our key audiences! it would be great to have a chat at some point to understand what could work well for people like you…keep the posts coming…I will read them with interest! Cheers S

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  3. I rarely leave a response, but i did some searching and wound
    up here How to write a good newsletter – Part 1 | Founder’s View. And I do have 2 questions for you if it’s
    allright. Is it just me or does it give the impression like some of these responses come across as if they are coming from brain
    dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are writing at additional
    places, I would like to keep up with anything fresh you have to post.
    Would you make a list of every one of all your community sites like your
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