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Content Marketing

Published May 9th 2021

8 Newsletter Ideas, Tips, And Topics To Engage Your Readers

Is your well of newsletter inspiration running dry? Read on...

As content creators, we’ve all been there. And by ‘there’, I mean clambering at the content coal face, desperately trying to cram your many ideas into an industry admired, slick newsletter that will almost certainly be the next big thing.

There's been big money trades for marketing newsletters recently; Hubspot bought The Hustle, a business and tech newsletter with over 1.5m subscribers, for approximately $27m in February of this year.

According to BuzzSumo's own Monthly Buzz newsletter, social engagements (shares, upvotes, and pins) surrounding newsletters have grown by a remarkable 1,450% over the last five years – especially throughout the pandemic.

The Brandwatch Bulletin also shows incredible growth in newsletter reach across forums and Twitter over the same time frame.

The opportunity in the newsletter game right now is pretty clear. Aside from an engaged community, newsletters give you:

  • Thought leadership status
  • Brand awareness
  • Blog traffic

And more! A newsletter is one asset you need to be putting the elbow grease into.

Over at the marketing HQ here at BuzzSumo, we’ve put our heads together to offer you some guidance on newsletter ideas to pep up your email marketing game.

1. Uncover what your audience wants to read

So, let’s say you’ve built your email list of loyal subscribers who are keen to engage with what you have to say.

You want your target audience to click, but you’re all too aware that you’re one in possibly hundreds of emails hitting those inboxes when you schedule to send.

And in often very saturated industries/markets, it’s hard to know how to cut through all the noise and really offer something fresh and useful to your readers.

Of course, the first step in your journey to newsletter fame is making sure you’re covering topics your audience are interested in.

The easiest way to do this – and gather newsletter ideas along the way – is to dissect the competition.

To do this, you simply have to find and analyze the most shared newsletters in your industry:

  1. Head to the BuzzSumo Content Analyzer
  2. Search your topic, sector, or industry
  3. Hit the Content Analysis Tab
  4. Scroll down to the "Average engagement by content types" component
  5. Click on "Newsletter"
  6. Get a list of newsletters in your niche, ordered by most to least shared

See below for a visual guide...

This list of the most engaging newsletters will give you inspiration around the style, format, and tone of newsletter that your target audience prefers.

From there, you can work out what elements you want to borrow, reinvent, or avoid. This will help you nail your newsletter angle and USP.

BuzzSumo has a bunch of other useful tools for getting into the mind of your newsletter audience.

Scroll through below to explore more newsletter ideas.

Find and follow your audience's favorite journalists to feature in your newsletter
Discover what articles your audience are sharing most around your topic in the Content Analyzer
Explore the content formats your audience prefer in the Facebook Page Analyzer
Creating a B2B newsletter? Discover the content B2B audiences prefer by hitting the B2B filter in the Content Analyzer
Drill-down into subtopics, and learn more about what questions your audience need answering around your newsletter subject

2. Tap into on-trend insights

Using Google Trends gives you a look into the topics that audiences are searching for online .

Simply type any word or phrase to see the search volumes, demographics and search history of the term. If you have a topic you’re bursting to write about and see the public are searching for it – bingo. Content gold.

It also shows you what’s trending, so a quick scan can help you build your subject matter – it can be a great jumping off point for you to investigate a little further.

Don’t just use the tool and run though!

While you’re there, the ThinkWithGoogle newsletter is a great one to subscribe to for digital marketing insights, as well as Google Trends daily email updates from Google's very own Data Editor, Simon Rogers.

Getting these regular trend insights to your inbox may well offer you some newsletter ideas of your own.

Another way to find fresh and relevant news before anyone else is with BuzzSumo's Trending Digest. It helps you find viral content from over the last day, down to the last hour.

In fact, it analyzes the virality of content every 15 minutes, so you can be sure that you're giving your readers exclusive stories before anyone else.

This tool also helps you uncover niche topics that will spark inspiration. You could find yourself ahead of the curve and uncover some real content gems. Go get your hands dirty!

Twitter’s ‘What’s happening’ and ‘Explore’ feeds are another great way of finding trending topics.

Breaking and personalized news is easily found at the top of your timeline – with all the surrounding tweets and videos.

We found this case study from the Twitter Media team on the 2020 GRAMMYs was a really interesting behind-the-scenes look at how Twitter can be used to uncover and amplify trending news – check it out.

Mazen Alawar

Managing Director of Marketing for the Recording Academy

“Audiences know that Twitter breaks information first...so those on the network tend to be engaged and are ready to actively participate in conversations — allowing us the opportunity to amplify the moment through them.”

3. Use the news

A simple way to make your newsletter content timely and fresh is by featuring trending news topics. Some of our favorite newsletters do this brilliantly.

We love 1440. Pleasingly titled after the year the printing press was invented, and also referencing the amount of precious minutes in one day – the digest goes out to over 700,000 inboxes every single morning.

This five minute read provides a well-curated slice of how the world is looking as you sip your morning coffee.

But you don’t have to be compiling a digest every day – readers subscribe to newsletters with different cadences, like our very own The Monthly Buzz.

We give our readers an interesting data-led look at top marketing and industry trends, along with the most shared marketing content of the month.

Our friends at Brandwatch also send out the bi-weekly Brandwatch Bulletin, which offers data insights into what’s happening across the globe in every issue.

The Monthly Buzz Newsletter

The Brandwatch Bulletin Newsletter

4. Discover an angle, and curate around it

As well as including news topics, make sure you’re including a great mix of other useful content.

Make your newsletter a one-stop-shop of useful links, blog posts, information, and tidbits that will keep your readers coming back.

Everyone loves a newsletter that does the heavy lifting for them.

This means trawling the web for shareable, interesting, trending topics, and packaging them up so your readers have an array of different types of content to enjoy.

Mix it up and keep it interesting – and if you can, keep it brief.

Watch the video below to see how Kevin Williamson, Managing Editor at major newsletter publisher, theCLIKK, discovers and curates content for an audience of 30k marketers, on a daily basis.

theCLIKK team have increased open rates by 10% with this method in BuzzSumo, and continue to build a hugely successful marketing newsletter.

Read more in our case study with theCLIKK here.

Another carefully curated marketing newsletter we are loyal subscribers of is TLDR – the ‘byte sized news for busy techies’.

Their thing is compiling interesting industry news into their e-shots, offering you the most interesting TLDRs of the day, that’ll mean you’re able to fully lean into those water cooler conversations.

Keeping the content a bit closer to home is often a challenge, as promotions and company news is likely only going to be shared and enjoyed by a minority of your audience.

Campaign Monitor suggests these handy ways of mixing up your content when you’re mainly writing about your own business:

  • A top ten list
  • Surveys, polls, and studies
  • Quotes
  • Statistics and data
  • Infographics
  • Your own guest blog posts
  • Useful tools, apps, extensions
  • Blog and video roundups from the last month / year

Sign up to their emails here.

5. Don’t forget the design

A newsletter non-negotiable that is often overlooked is to make sure the design is on-point. Easier said than done, though?

Though it may be tempting to just focus on the words, an eye catching, pleasant to scan, well designed email is far more likely to be remembered.

Check out Really Good Emails’ compilation of the most welldesigned email newsletters on the web for inspiration, from Atlassian to Zapier.

While we’re at it, we also like their sign up button copy.

Injecting a little personality into your button copy goes a long way!

Knowing what you personally enjoy reading and sharing will help you build your own identity.

6. Make your content human

Talking of personality, take it further and remind your readers that you’re actually human, not a faceless brand.

We think the best newsletters actually give credit to the voices of those penning them. Why not send your newsletters from a different team member every issue?

You could have fun with it – have a different team member write the introduction and include some of their personality.

As humans we crave connection, and we shouldn’t forget that when sending marketing comms.

Also, remind your readers of the work that’s gone into creating the content.

The Hustle newsletter is great at crediting its writers within the email copy, lending a more personal, accessible feel to the content.

Involve the audience you're writing for

Remember – you're not just writing into the void!

Focus on turning your newsletter into a community – a place where the conversation happens.

Here's great tip from Bill Acholla...

Bill Acholla

Digital Content Marketing Consultant

“If your audience ask questions or respond to a newsletter topic, make room to answer them in the next one.”

You can pre-empt this kind of interaction, by asking readers to respond to your emails.

Many newsletter pro's do this to avoid inbox problems (ie. being buried in the promotions or spam folders), but also to get a greater insight into their audience.

For example, Actionable Marketing Guide's Heidi Cohen, will ask questions such as “What is the biggest problem you face in your job?”

This is a great way of involving your audience, and collecting some important data in the process.

7. Investigate what’s popular in your network

Another top ideation tip is to uncover what other people are sharing. If you know the top stories that your network are sharing, you can be pretty sure you’re onto a good subject to cover yourself.

For example, Medium sends emails with content it thinks you might like based on what your network recommends. If these articles are interesting to others in your niche, they could make for great newsletter content.

See what influencers are sharing

One sure fire way to discover newsletter content that will engage your audience, is to look to the most influential people in your niche.

If you want to know what content has been recently shared by these top influencers, you can explore a "View links shared" report in BuzzSumo's Twitter Influencers tool.

This will also show you a breakdown of their favorite sites.

Pro Tip

Set up a "Saved search" or "Create an alert" of your top influencers' favorite sites in the BuzzSumo Content Analyzer.

This way, you can regularly revisit the content of trusted sites in your niche, and share the best stories with your newsletter readers!

See below for a step-by-step guide...

1. Search your niche in the Twitter Influencers tool

2. Find top influencers in your niche, and explore the links they share

3. Explore the "View links shared" report to see their most recently shared content & favorite sites

4. Decide whether to feature this content in your newsletter

5. Explore new topic ideas for your newsletter, based on top influencer's favorite topics

4. Make a note of the top influencers' favorite sites, to take over to the Content Analyzer

5. Search your top influencers' favorite sites in the Content Analyzer

6. Save and revisit content from your top influencers' favorite sites, to include in your newsletter

Feature content from popular journalists

Know a journalist who always publishes great content?

Set a journalist alert in BuzzSumo, and be the first to publicize their story in your newsletter.

8. Make sure your content is word perfect

The benchmark of all good newsletters, the bedrock, the one thing that unites them all (this is getting very Lord of the Rings, sorry) – great copywriting.

There’s no point building an engaged email list, understanding what your audience wants to read, planning the layout of dreams, and then spending minimal time on the words.

First of all, the copy is what will have your readers clicking on the subject line. Sure, your space is limited, but that’s all the more reason to get it right.

We love theCLIKK, a gang of seasoned digital experts who seriously know how to craft fun, snarky, and persuasive copy. 

If you need a refresher on how to get your readers excited every time they open an email from you, you could definitely do worse than subscribe to their newsletter - you’ll receive top tips, guidance, and expert chat from those in the know.

We know how important newsletters are. It’s one of the marketing constants (and it’s nice to have a constant in this constantly shifting landscape!) so making sure you’re in the game is super important.

We’ve taken you on a journey from ideation, to design, to crafting perfect copy. Hopefully you’ll have left us with some excellent newsletter ideas to get cracking with.

Remember: Your readers have chosen to receive your content. Have confidence that you’re going to retain them!

If you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to support your newsletter ideation, start a free 30-day free trial of Buzzsumo today. Got any ideas we’ve not covered? You can reach us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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