in Authority Marketing

Newsletters – Simplified

Having a newsletter is a must for anyone creating content. Newsletters can vary in depth and time commitment from a simple list of recent content and announcements all the way up to exclusive daily content. As long as it communicates valuable information to your target audience and publishes consistently, you will build authority with an email newsletter. 

No matter what other content you’re creating, an email list with a regular newsletter is still one of the best ways for you to keep in touch with your audience.

In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to start or level up your authority building newsletter.

Choosing The Right Kind Of Newsletter

The first two questions to ask yourself are simple:

1.       How large is your audience? Do you have any hidden or untapped sources of email addresses to kick-off newsletter list?

2.       How much are you planning to invest in your newsletter?

Without at least 250 email subscribers, it’s best to spend more time focused on creating and promoting content that will help build your list. Stick to a Publishing Companion style newsletter and build your list! If you’re in an audience building phase of your authority roadmap, your newsletter should be a top 3 content priority. It should not be #1 if your goal is to build an audience.

Regular readership can be much more easily measured than in the past.  Skip over subscriptions as a metric and track what matters: readers.

A daily personal email is a much less risky investment once you have over 1000 subscribers or 500 regular newsletter readers.  Wait until you’ve got a large enough audience that you can invest in building personal relationships with your top subscribers. A newsletter is one of the most effective authority building and lead generating resources available if you have a dedicated audience.

Considering Exclusivity

Whether it’s a line for an empty club or a six-month waiting list for a top-notch executive coach, people want what they don’t (or can’t) have. We recommend providing exclusive content like bonus resources, webinars, and contests to your subscribers to help prove the value of your newsletter. Since exclusivity is such an open-ended option, we’ve put together our favorite options for you to choose from.

Non-exclusive

This is the most common newsletter: "I’ve got a new THING, go check it out!" While your audience will probably appreciate an email as an option to hear from you, announcements are all about YOU.  We only recommend a non-exclusive newsletter to experts just starting out on their path to authority.

Exclusive Curation

The easy step-up from a 100% nonexclusive newsletter. Pick out a few favorite articles to share with your readers, either from your archives or from around the web. Lightly curated content is an easy way to make your newsletter a little more helpful every time you send it. Just be sure to read whatever you’re recommending. Our clients often use tools like Evernote or Onenote to grab their favorite reads each week. Alternatively, just email the articles to yourself.

Exclusive Created Content

Exclusive content is how you really start building authority and value in your newsletter. It could be as simple as a lead magnet upon signup or could be an entire weekly video series only for subscribers. Exclusive content helps drive subscriptions to your newsletter and builds trust with your audience. The investment on it becomes worth it once you’ve found your tribe and are effectively reaching your target audience.

To Create or Curate?

Good creation beats good curation every time, but they’re even better when combine. Take your curation to the next level by including an extra paragraph or two summarizing why you chose that piece of content.

Build in an overarching topic to your content curation

We like to use curated content as support for our authoritative creations. As long as you tie your choices to your positioning and keep it all relevant to your target audience, you’re on track for quality curation.

The Three Styles Of Newsletter We See Most Often – And Who Should Make Each

If you’re just getting started with content creation: make a Publishing Companion until you have at least over 250 subscribers. We normally hold off on looking at the newsletter as a channel for growth until we have a few hundred regular readers, not just subscribers. At this point, focus your resources on building up a targeted following.

If you’re working to build your audience with guest appearances and other cross-promotion: use a Standard Newsletter and maintain your publishing frequency. Be sure to feature articles from sources you’ll be appearing on in advance of publishing your piece.  A Standard Newsletter offers many more opportunities to feature others and get to know your audience via content submissions. Flaunt your community and gain authority as a result.

If you’re preparing to launch a product or course in the near future: use a Personal Letter and increase the frequency of your publishing. Your list will most likely drop in size, but you should see a subsequent increase in engagement. This will better prepare you for launch by revving up your audience’s desire for your more in-depth content.

The Publishing Companion

The simplest of all newsletter styles, this option is essentially giving your audience the ability to receive an email when you publish your regular blog/podcast/article/video as well as any other big announcements. It should follow the schedule of your other content creation. The publishing companion can be as simple as just sending out a snippet from a blog post or your podcast show notes with a link to the episode on your website. These take almost no time or investment to produce, and many email platforms (like MailChimp) will even automate this process for you.

Publishing companions don’t build authority, but email is a universal channel for content.  This format is really only meant for communication. Your content will have to do the heavy lifting of authority generation. 

Pro Tip: Give your newsletter subscribers access or notice of your new content before you promote it to the public. This will help you to build a closer relationship with your audience, and hopefully get some feedback to adjust the work before the larger push.

The Next Steps Engage with your best subscribers and ask them if they have any questions they’d like answered or any specific kind of content they’d like to see from you.

If you’re just getting starting with content, create a lead magnet related to your most popular content so you can start driving more newsletter subscriptions and build your email list.

The Weekly/Monthly Standard

The most popular kind of newsletter out there. It combines recent content like the Publishing Companion with some curated content and possibly a short note as well.  The curated content could be community-sourced, related articles, or content from your archives. A Standard is as effective as the work put in.  A multi-hour read like Evergreen Business Fortnightly or a comedic tone like the Hustle both bring a unique personality and authority to their newsletters. This sets them apart from the competition and helps cement their authority by signaling the time and effort they put in.

Pro Tip: Subscriber-only content and quality curation is the best way to quickly establish your newsletter as something worth reading. Focus on exclusive content first and follow up your plan there with a goal to get people sharing your curated articles. Use a link shortener like Bit.ly to track and confirm your shares.

The Next Steps: Have an exclusive online event or contest just for your subscribers. This will give you a chance to test your list engagement with something that could bring in leads.  Target those that participate with additional offers to help turn them into prospects. 

Many newsletters get started as a Standard before ever finding out what their customers want to hear. Continue to get to know your audience by asking for article submissions and questions.

The Personal Letter

A Personal Letter is a powerful option for authorities who already have decent size followings (500+). It acts as a strong polarizing force, binding your fans closer to you. Over time, it will lean out your list while raising engagement. These are normally written in a very casual or personal style; often as a direct letter to the reader. Personal Letters are best saved for established authorities simply because they take longer than any other type of newsletter.  Thirty minutes or even a full hour each day will need to be dedicated to writing the newsletter if you’re going for our recommended daily publishing.  A weekly letter should be a bit longer than a daily, but will still take a ~2 hours each week.

The good news is that you’re able to prove your authority directly to your readers every time you send one of these. While this style may be less effective in growing your audience size, it is an incredibly effective way to build authority with your existing fans.  If your audience grows quickly while writing in this form, then you know you’ve got the right content.

Pro Tip:  Start using your newsletter as a sounding board for new ideas, blog posts, and products.  Ask your audience questions as often as you can to build a better view of your readership.

If you haven’t set up any automation software or email drip campaigns, you should. Consider setting up an initial campaign made up of 5-10 of your best newsletters to send to new subscribers.  This lets you put your best foot forward when they decide to subscribe.

The Right Tool For The Right Job

While picking out the right kind of newsletter is tough, picking the right software to send it with can seem downright impossible.  Dozens of reputable and successful companies provide email marketing software and some of them even build it into other marketing tools like automation suites or CRMS. Luckily, I’ve narrow the search down to a few simple rules.

The Best All Around

You still need a newsletter.  Use MailChimp. It’s simple – Just follow any of the hundreds of online tutorials on how to use it. It’s powerful – MailChimp is a solid product with a lot of features, there’s a reason they’re the market leader. And it’s free – Up to 2,000 contacts with unlimited sends per month. If you’re above that, consider a less-pricey option or be prepared to pay a premium for some features.

Our Favorite For Automation

Drip.co is what we use and recommend.  It’s powerful marketing automation software with email newsletters and campaigns built right in.  While it’s a bit more complicated than MailChimp, it’s much more powerful if you want to automate engagement our build out large drip email campaigns.

Best Value

ActiveCampaign is great software.  It’s got a lot (maybe too many) features, but I hear a lot of good things about their automation and email.  They don’t have a free offering like MailChimp, but they’re a great middle group between good automation and ease of use.

Getting Started

Investing the time and effort to make an authority building newsletter isn’t worthwhile for most Authorities-to-be until they have the audience and growing subscriber base to make it worthwhile.  Get your newsletter up and running FAST if you’re building subscribers. Pick an emailing tool and start republishing your blogs and other content directly to your audience.