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Newsletters as an ESL Marketing Tool

December 01, 2005

I hesistated about suggesting that schools could send out newsletters as part of a marketing campaign.


These days we are bombarded with information and tend to resent the arrival of yet more reading matter! But I think, if you follow some basic rules, newsletters can be useful in making potential clients more aware of your activity. So, here are my thoughts:

1. Know your readership
My point here is that a newsletter for internal use will not serve for external readers. The two readerships are totally different. So if you want to target both internal readers and, say, customers and clients, you need two separate newsletters. Internal clients will want to keep up to speed with company developments, know about internal opportunities and hear about company successes and the exploits of individuals. Customers and clients will want to know how your services can benefit them. They will also want information that shows your track record and helps position you in the sector—in other words information that builds your trustworthiness and credibility and shows the direction you are going in.

2. Attract the readership
Pay attention to the appearance of the newsletter. Give it an eye-catching, memorable and relevant title. It shouldn’t be too busy or too long. Keep it clean so that the eye isn’t distracted. Don’t make the prose too dense. Break up the text with headings and bullet points. Where it is appropriate, use charts, graphs and diagrams as these convey information more efficiently that words.

3. Write well
Write simply but accurately. Avoid jargon but if you need to use industry terms or acronyms, ask yourself if your readers will be able to understand them. If they can’t, then explain them. Avoid clichés because these are usually a sign that you haven’t clarified what the message is. Make sure each paragraph has one sentence that summarizes the content. The example here is my first sentence: write simply but accurately.

4. Be direct
Many people fall into a rigid, formal style when they write. This isn’t attractive. Address the readership directly and avoid the passive voice. Use contracted forms as you would in speech and liven up the style with rhetorical questions. Use good, strong and simple verbs (use instead of utilize, find out instead of ascertain). Don’t be vague: instead of sales showed a substantial increase, say, sales rose by 15%. Cut adverbs: actually, in fact, on the whole—most adverbs are merely padding.

5. Be informative
Give your readers concrete information that that will be useful to them. Such information could be details of forthcoming events, useful websites, how-to tips.

By following these rules, you should be able to build a faithful readership—an audience that eagerly awaits the next edition of your newsletter and starts to take you seriously as a service provider.



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Tracked on December 19, 2005 08:57 PM


  1. Nigel Fogden Says:

    I would also suggest that permission and interaction are crucial- some way to shift the dynamic from you giving your target something they feel indiferent towards, to getting them to ask *you* for the newsletter. Then the next step is to allow your reader to interact with the newsletter, creating a conversation and making it a cooperative venture. Not only do you get some great ideas, but you also give them a reason to look forward to the next issue.

    In a lot of ways I think that the popularity of blogs (like, for example, this one!) is due to the fact that they have elements of permission and interaction built into them.

  1. Lee Says:


    I agree with Nigel, the interactive functionality of an online newsletter is certainly an appealing quality.

    On that note, I've noticed that more and more publishers are using little multiple-choice polls and surveys in their newsletters too. This can also be evidenced on many blogs. Perhaps readers like to feel that their input on content is important and this functionality gives those with little time or courage to actually write a lenghty comment a way to still have a "voice." Also, the ability to see the "results" of the poll after you've voted is pretty nifty.


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