Four things I love (and hate) about newsletter copywriting Monday February 14, 2011


Sometimes I take a look at my emails and wonder if National Newsletter Day has been instituted without my knowledge. I always find it interesting to see how the copywriting in these enewsletters reflects the product or service they’re promoting, both in style and content. I thought I’d review the copywriting on show in these virtual updates by taking a look at a few of the newsletters that have fluttered into my inbox recently, covering the things I like…and the things I don’t like so much.

Thumbs up – Short and sweet

The newsletter I’m looking at now is the epitome of short and sweet copywriting. That’s copywriting which tells enough to draw me in, but which doesn’t go into every single tiny detail. I like it too because the copy’s obviously been written specifically for this medium and audience. The tone suits the brief length and there are subheadings that draw me in. This is copywriting that is deliberately kind to eyes tired of dealing with a day of emails. What I also like about this short and sweet newsletter is that it has a sense of humour. The copywriting hasn’t let shortness get in the way of style. It’s brief, but not too much to the point. Whoever wrote it recognises copywriting as an important way to help sell their services – and to encourage people to respond. Not many of us have the patience or time to keep scrolling down to read endless copy. This newsletter is proof of that big copywriting irony which is: Write less. Get read more.

Thumbs down – Generic not personal

This next newsletter I’m looking at is no doubt ultra-correct when it comes to the facts, but feels completely impersonal, even though I know the person who sent it is proud to offer a personal service. The copywriting reads as if it was written for any type of company in this person’s industry (and may well have been). This copywriting recounts facts and figures, rather than building on relationships with customers. The tone is grammatically correct, but does not feel warm or welcoming. It may be possible that this is how the person wishes to communicate with their customers, but I don’t see how this copywriting could draw people in for long. If you want the facts, I suppose it’s a start. If you want to get to know the person and why you should choose their services, this is newsletter copywriting, robot style.

Thumbs up – Straight to the point

Newsletter is a deceptive word. An enewsletter, just like a printed newsletter, can take on many forms and purposes. The next one I’m looking at is simply about one event from one organisation. It’s eye catching and to the point. The copywriting is brief, clear and persuasive. The aim is obvious – to get me to respond. But the copywriting is not so brief as to be without imagination. It works well with the imagery and tells a story. It doesn’t feel like an intrusion on my time and attention. Instead it interests me and makes me keen to get involved. Once again, following that copywriting rule of less is more has made this newsletter a success.

Thumbs down – Confused

The final enewsletter I’m considering is a mix of thumbs up and thumbs down. There’s some good stuff in there, but all the copywriting is jumbled together. I can see the overall purpose of the newsletter, but its priorities are a little confused. Instead of going straight to the special offer, I am distracted by all the information on show, information I could probably manage without. Overall, my impression is of quite a lot of copy in quite a small space and of not knowing where to look first. I don’t want newsletter copywriting that makes me hunt for good news in a newsletter. I want to find it straight away.

Writing more loveable newsletters

So what do these inbox treats teach us about copywriting for newsletters?

• Keep it short and sweet
• Keep it to the point
• Make it feel personal, not generic
• Be clear about the message you want people to receive.

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