How to make your newsletter look and feel more personal

We asked the Indiegraf team for some ideas to personalize your outlet’s newsletter. Here are 8 things you can do to help your newsletter stand out.
Person holding a phone while working on a laptop.
Photo by Maxim Ilyahov on Unsplash.

When it comes to independent local news, rapport is truly the name of the game. There are enough cold, distant news sources out there, so building a strong relationship with your audience can really make a difference in establishing trust and increasing engagement. 

By now, we’re all well aware of the benefits of newsletters for news publishers. But simply having a newsletter is not enough to build a relationship. To truly stand out in a sea of online content, you need a strong, consistent and recognizable email. A good way to do that is to personalize your newsletters and make them your own. With that in mind, we rounded up some ideas for making your outlet’s newsletter look and feel more personal.

Put a face to the name

The first step in making things feel personal is, well, by showcasing the email’s author. This means more than including the byline or personalizing your “send” name; instead, truly introduce the person behind the emails. A good way to do this is to include a photo of yourself or your team in your sign-off. If you don’t feel like including a photo, you can include a signature or get creative with a fun, yet simple, illustration. 

Be candid

Help your readers get to know you a little better by including a note about your personal life here and there. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your audience will help them remember there’s a human on the other side, one who works hard to provide quality journalism on a regular basis. This will lead to deeper audience connections and, hopefully, a bigger drive to support your work. 

Don’t be afraid to add a little humor

Keeping track of the news can be quite overwhelming, especially during difficult times. So why not boost people’s moods? Humor is one of humanity’s smartest coping mechanisms: It helps us see beyond hardship and reconnect with our resilience, our humanity. So, whenever you can, inject a little humor in your intro or sign-off message to help your readers release some tension. Here’s how Tri-Cities Dispatch does it

Upgrade the boring text

The devil’s in the details. But so is fun! Don’t waste any opportunity to customize the automatic and boring text in your headers, footers, double opt-ins or unsubscribe pages. For example, instead of using the automatic “View in browser,” you could say “Email too distracting? View in browser.”

Add personal recommendations

Sure, your team is comprised of professional, hardworking journalists. But we’re all more than our jobs! Adding personal recommendations is a great way to build some familiarity between your readers and your team, allowing them to get to know their local reporters on a different level. And, as an extra, it can help drive your click-through rate.

Include a little treat at the end

Another way to inject some personality into your newsletter is to add a funny tweet, meme or video for those who stick around and read until the end. If your local meme curation is pristine enough, it may encourage people to open your emails no matter what!

Give shout-outs

True, lasting relationships are reciprocal. Once you’ve built a recognizable newsletter, take things to the next level by recognizing your audience. You can show appreciation for your readers and supporters by giving them a personal shout-out. Whether it’s for a generous donation or a supportive tweet, make sure you express your gratitude for those who make your work possible! 

Give people a peek behind the scenes

Are you working on a new series? Have you had an interesting interaction with one of your readers? Give people a peek into your newsroom by including a note on things you’re working on, questions you’ve been asking yourself, or barriers you’ve come across in your reporting process. Not only will this exercise in transparency help build trust with your audience and your community, but it’ll also provide a platform for you to reinforce your editorial values

There are many ways to make your newsletter feel more personal, and not all of them will apply to your outlet. No matter which tips you decide to implement, make sure they align with the unique voice that makes your outlet different from the rest.

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