4 Simple (But Smart) Newsletter Ideas to Steal from The Big Guys

Whether you’re new to the email newsletter game or you’re an old pro, there are always new lessons to be learned. And of course, in the ever-changing world of email marketing, it will always serve you well to keep up on the latest trends and newsletter ideas.

If you’re looking to mix things up for your email list, or even just check in to see how you compare, you’re in luck.

Today, I’m rounding up some simple but effective ideas from a few of the biggest, most popular newsletters out there. Plus, we’ll boil down what you can learn from them and how you can implement these lessons on your list.

Ready to get started? Let’s jump in.

Grow Your List with a Referral Campaign

Imagine how much your list would grow if everyone on your list got just one friend to sign up as well. (Hint: your list size would double.) Now, imagine if you challenged readers to invite 10 friends to join your list.

That’s the strategy that the ever-popular newsletter The Skimm has used to grow into one of the most notable email newsletters out there.

Focused on distilling the news for busy women, The Skimm shares a daily round-up of the top headlines, with links to more in-depth articles, all written in a signature lighthearted tone.

Its massive growth, though, is all about referrals. When readers get 10 friends to sign up, they earn the title of “Skimm’bassador” and get free swag and an opportunity to contribute ideas and feedback to the newsletter.

Newsletter Ideas from the Skimm

The easiest way to implement a simple version of a referral campaign? Just add a note to the end of your newsletter asking readers to forward it along to someone who might enjoy your content.

If you’ve packed your list with avid fans, it might pay off.

If you want to take it to the next level, you can create a rewarded referral system like The Skimm. If you don’t know what to offer, just get creative and think of what your readers might want—from coupon codes, to swag, to shout-outs in your newsletter.

As long as you can create a stellar incentive, your referral campaign is sure to help you grow your list faster than you ever thought possible.

Create a Conversation with Your Readers

If you want to create a list of avid, engaged readers—the kind of audience that advertisers are looking for—you need to make sure your readers feel included in your community. One way to do that is to include their very own words right in your newsletter, like Paved publisher The Need to Know does.

The Need to Know is a daily news update that boils the news down into super short summaries, injected with its own brand of humor.

In this issue of the daily update, right above an email sponsorship section, the newsletter shared a quick, funny tweet from one of their readers.

Plus, it encouraged social media engagement by letting readers know how they could see their own funny statement at the bottom of a favorite newsletter.

Newletter Ideas The Need to Know

This is such an easy step, that probably took someone a minute or two, but instantly makes readers feel more connected and that they’re part of a larger community.

In your own newsletter, you can create a conversation with your readers in a similar way by encouraging them to engage with you on social media. Then, you can share the best of those responses within your newsletter, or just reply and create a conversation on Twitter or Facebook.

Take your community feeling a step further with a killer welcome email series to get readers engaged from the beginning.

In these first couple of emails, you can welcome readers to your page, share some of your top content, and introduce them to your brand. By introducing yourself right away, you can create the feeling of a community from the start.

You can also include a simple question in your newsletters, encouraging readers to reply and actually start a conversation.

No matter how you go about it, creating a conversation and a sense of community around your email newsletter is sure to help your email newsletter open rates and click rates skyrocket.

Encourage Social Sharing

Want to take the conversation a step further while also growing your email list? Another great way to get readers to refer friends is by encouraging social sharing.

Getting the conversation off of one platform is always a good idea, especially when it means readers are sharing your content with friends and helping you grow your list.

The Hustle, a newsletter that focuses on startup and business news, did exactly this in a recent edition. At the bottom of its top story for the day (in this case, a story about the purchase of the Carolina Panthers), there are sharing icons.

Newsletter Ideas The Hustle 1

When a reader clicks to share via Twitter, for instance, the tweet contains a link back to the full story on the Hustle’s website. There, the subscriber’s follower can catch up on the news story.

On the sidebar, however, they are prompted to sign up for the Hustle—turning the casual sharing of a news story into a list growth opportunity.

Newsletter Ideas The Hustle 2

You can implement a similar system for your newsletter by inserting social sharing icons within your newsletter. Just be sure to create an online home for your newsletter content so that the social media updates have a link appropriate for sharing.

And once those new readers get back to your site, don’t waste those fresh new eyes! Be sure to put a lead generation opportunity on your site so you can grow your email list, too.

Know Your Readers and Speak Their Language

Did you notice one thing that these lists all have in common? They pretty much all cover similar topics, but they each have their own distinct language and way of speaking to their readers.

This is the final idea you can steal from the big guys, and the reason they’re so big in the first place: they know their readers.

Each of these news sites has a carefully defined reader profile, and they speak directly to them. You can tell just from the short snippets I’ve included that, despite each of them being a humorous daily news round up, they each write in their own language.

  • The Skimm has a defined target customer that is outlined immediately in their logo: a woman in a pencil skirt and heels.
  • The Hustle, with a focus on business and startups, has a section of their newsletter devoted to startup-specific terms.
  • The Need to Know keeps things straightforward with to-the-point headlines.

How can you learn from these newsletter giants? Start by thinking about your target reader and creating a customer profile (even if you don’t think of your subscribers as customers, they are the key to monetizing your list, so it’s appropriate to have an avatar).

Then, target them with your tone, your topics, and even your social media usage.

By defining your ideal reader, you have an opportunity to build a community of like-minded readers. And that’s the kind of community that makes for a killer list and attracts advertisers.

Newsletter Ideas for Your List

If you implement these simple yet effective newsletter ideas from three of the biggest newsletter giants out there, you’ll be sure to have a successful newsletter in no time. Not only will you develop a large list, but you’ll have a healthy, engaged email list, too—the kind advertisers love to work with.

Ready to monetize your newly refreshed list? It’s time to join Paved. When you attach your email service provider to your Paved profile, we’ll create a custom media kit right on your profile, showing off your engagement rates, demographics and more. Sign up for Paved to see how easy email advertising can be.