Building curated newsletters

Use Email to Deliver A Curated Newsletter

The word ‘newsletter’ can conjure a range of images for email. Some businesses use them to update customers on their latest news. Community groups send them to let subscribers know what’s happening in the area. Companies send internal newsletters to help employees stay in touch with the business.

We’re not talking about newsletters containing your own content. Well, not exclusively. Huge websites like Lifehacker send round-up newsletters of their own content. But they publish enough daily that readers like direction about what to read next.

What about curated newsletters?

Zapier’s curated newsletter leads with a story from their blog. Then they segue to an article by one of their customers (who solved their problems using Zapier). They include other helpful articles and content produced by their community.

But it’s still very ‘Zapier’ focused. Instead, we’re talking about curated newsletters including helpful content for your subscribers. For these, you gather links or resources on a given topic for your regular email.

It’s a strategy we’ve followed for our very own Websand Sunday Supplement, and if you want to know more you can signup below and experience first-hand curated newsletters from Websand every Sunday.

Why send a curated newsletter?

We devote a lot of energy to preaching the benefits of automated email marketing. A customer’s interaction with your website triggers specific emails. Think of the emails you get from travel services when you book a trip. Emails recommending restaurants or hire cars arrive as the date of departure looms.

A curated newsletter sits at the opposite end of the email marketing spectrum. You may send them on a weekly or monthly basis. They act like a round-up of content you know your subscribers will find helpful. For us we send our curated newsletter every Sunday.

Curated newsletters involve combing through published content on relevant topics. It can also involve road testing new tools or resources where necessary. Rather than passing on everything you come across, you pass on the gems.

It takes time to do well. But they offer immense value to your subscribers which wins brownie points with them.

So, what are the other benefits of curated newsletters?

1.     You can prove your authority.

A curated newsletter shows your subscribers you know where to find the best tools or offers. You know your industry so well you know what your readers will find useful.

Think of a curated newsletter like the helpful local you meet on holiday. The one who knows all the best restaurants and shops. But they also tell you the best time to go so you always get a good deal.

Providing such value also helps subscribers trust you. Which also helps when you’re trying to sell your own products and services.

2.     You show your transparency.

Subscribers expect you to promote your own content. But you’re biased about its quality. By promoting content by other companies, you’re showing how confident you are in your own content. You’re so confident you don’t have to show it off at every given moment!

And if you’re confident enough to direct people to potential competitors? You’re also showing transparency in your industry. Which is another good way to help customers trust what you send.

3.     They give you content to send to stay visible in an inbox.

Permission marketing means you send the email the subscriber needs when they need it. But that also means it might be some time before they hear from you.

A curated newsletter gives you content to send between those emails. The more a subscriber sees your name in their inbox, the more associations they’ll build with your name.

You become ‘top of mind’ when they next need your product or service.

And you’re not sending any old email as many companies do with the ‘email blast’ strategy. Use segmentation to send the right curated newsletter to the right subscribers.

How do you design a good curated newsletter?

Strike a balance between useful third-party content and one or two of your own articles.

Websand sends out a Sunday Supplement on an almost weekly basis. We highlight our most recent blog post and then add other value for subscribers. Timely news articles are always a winner.

You might include two links to your blog – your most recent post and a ‘hidden gem’ from your archives. Remember that not everyone will have read everything on your blog. New subscribers need direction to older content, especially in an onboarding sequence.

Then focus on finding content that your customers will find valuable. Publishing consultant Jane Friedman sends a regular missive, Electric Speed, to subscribers. In it, she includes a round-up of publishing industry updates or free tools for writers. At the end, Friedman also highlights a post from her blog. Or she notes any upcoming classes subscribers might like to attend. Subscribers don’t mind the ‘plug’ for her own content because the curated content is so valuable.

If your business has more of a focus on you as the ‘brand’, try writer/artist Austin Kleon’s approach. He sends ten links to things he’s found interesting or books he wants to recommend. He links them to his books or blog posts but it’s possible to read the links on their own.

Why do curated newsletters work?

There’s too much content online for subscribers to see everything that’s published. A good curated newsletter is a way to skim out the good stuff. You’re saving them time by showing them the bits they need to see. Meanwhile, you get to promote your knowledge of your niche.

Subscribers can also choose what they want to read about. Copyblogger founder Brian Clark includes links to podcasts, videos, and blog posts in his Unemployable newsletter. Subscribers choose which of the links to follow based on what media they prefer to consume. In effect, subscribers curate their own experience of the curated newsletter.

If you’re looking for a way to build your email list (and it’s never too late), curated newsletters give you a place to start. You’ll have content to send while creating content of your own.

You can even store your previous newsletters on your website as an archive. All those backlinks are great for your SEO.

Get Cracking!

So, if you like the sound of curated newsletters and want to create your own, get in touch. We’ll get you set up with all the tools you need to make a resource your subscribers will rave about.

We’re standing by!

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Also published on Medium.