My Marketing Thing

3 nifty ways to inspire people to read your newsletter

Eric and funny insurance newsletter

It was winter.  I was editing….over-hauling….a newsletter article for a client. Rubbing my icy hands in front of my computer monitor, I stared at the sensible health advice before me.  It was very sensible and it was very dull.  

The article was about protecting yourself against the dreaded flu.  And it was particularly dreaded that year.  The Swine Flu had been around for a few weeks (Australia still had warm weather when it hit in the Northern Hemisphere).  With winter now rolling in, Australians were about to become more vulnerable.  So the article was topical.  But the writing still didn’t hook me in.

So what what was the problem?

Maybe it was because the internet was already swamped with swine flu information.  This was just another ‘protect yourself against swine flu’ article.  So I did something cheeky that my reputable client was nice enough to allow.  And it worked.

1. Have a run of puns

At the height of the swine flu panic came the usual round of swine flu jokes.  The jokes were rapidly forwarded from inbox to inbox around the globe.  The process was much like a virus, but one affecting funny-bones.

I basically grabbed all the swine flu puns I could find and made up some of my own and fed them into the sentences of the article.

“I don’t mean to boar you with the obvious…’, ‘Trot out for regular exercise…’ , ‘Hit the hay…’ .

Okay, I’m not going to get any awards for comedy.  But because I said “Spot the 10 cringe-worthy puns” near the beginning of the article, people read the WHOLE article to find all the puns.  And they actually learnt something in the process.  Oink, oink.


2.  Have a competition

I came across a newsletter for an insurance company the other day.  Insurance isn’t the most riveting of topics, is it?  This newsletter had four pages of information.  Four pages about insurance…what a drag.  Except it wasn’t.  Instead the newsletter drew you in through a number of ways:

  • Writing that addressed my questions and problems before I even thought I had any
  • Colourful, engaging photography of people doing fun, interesting things that lifted my spirits just looking at them.

But the magic to this newsletter was the competition.

Now there are competitions and there are competitions…Some have a prize and say ‘fill out this coupon, send it in and hope for the best’.  You might be lured to tick a box on the coupon, giving permission to receive the company’s promotional guff by email – and other competition opportunities.  That kind of thing.

This bunch decided to have five questions as part of the competition.  The answers were found in the different sections of the newsletter.  Not rocket science, but the process made you read everything.  The whole four pages….about insurance.


3.  Say something personal in an interesting way

This is one that took me by surprise.   A client by the name of Jeff wanted to send out an e-newsletter article with a number of newsy bits about the business.  Jeff also wanted to mention at the end of the newsletter that he was going away on holidays for three weeks. Then his clients would know he won’t be around at that time to help them.

I asked him what he would be doing while away.  “Surfing – lots of surfing” was his reply. So in the e-newsletter we started off with highlights of each news section and hyperlinked them to the full news item below.  The final highlight was about the holiday break. But we didn’t write “Jeff will be on holidays”.  Instead, we wrote:

Jeff’s quest – As a great man once said: “a quest isn’t a quest unless you’re prepared to die for it”

That got people hyperlinking to the actual news item at the end – which read:

Jeff’s Quest – From 11-27th October, Jeff will be away at Sunshine Beach to work on his quest to win the World Title in surfing (yes, for Jeff it’s all about the intent).

Most subscribers already knew who Jeff was.  And most knew that it was unlikely Jeff would be found in the audience of the World Title let alone competing – the bracketed words hinted that it was a joke.  But the news item even drew interest from those who had no idea who Jeff was.

The item – as small as it was – prompted a great response.  Clients contacted Jeff for a number of reasons: to wish him well, book with him before he left and, for some, to talk about the gnarly waves on the point.  Awesome.

Important note:

Use this tip with care.  It depends on the business you work in as to what might be appropriate when introducing personal information into your promotional material.


The motto of the story:

Take your readers on a journey that is entertaining as well as informative.  And don’t be afraid to be human.


This article was written by Megan Hills.  Megan is a writer, marketing consultant and cartoonist.  She also has a renegade approach to grammar that irritates some people. Read more about Megan

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One Comment

  1. Wilhelm

    Simple but effective with a dash of humaness (Not a word but I am sure you know what I mean)

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