I recently wrote in this space about five simple steps to improve the look of your email newsletter and today, I want to follow up on that with a post about how to improve the content of your email newsletter in five more simple steps. Implementing these suggestions will keep your email newsletter content fresh and get readers’ attention so they’re more engaged for longer.

1. Inject personality.
No matter how serious your business is, there’s always room to make things personal. People respond to people (which is why photos are so effective, as I discussed in my last post). So don’t be afraid to let people get to know you. Provide real-world anecdotes that relate to your larger point, discuss a problem you had and the solution you came up with, even talk about your family if it’s relevant. You’ll be far more memorable and better able to connect with readers if they think there’s a real person on the other end of your email.

2. Have an opinion on a timely or controversial topic.
Going along with the above suggestion, don’t be afraid to have an opinion about a topic that’s in the news or is very polarizing. Instead of just reporting on the facts of these topics, take a side and write about why you chose it. News is a commodity these days and having an opinion on the news is a great way to differentiate your content from a lot of what’s out there. It shows your personality and that you took the time to analyze the information at hand to come to an informed conclusion. It’s also a great way to get reader feedback in the form of emails that you can then publish in your email newsletter.

3. Ask questions.
Another way to get readers involved and engaged in what you’re discussing is to ask questions. This can be a quick survey or a more open-ended question that will require a longer response. You might be surprised at how many readers write in and if there are a lot of thoughtful responses, you can devote an entire issue to them, which will in turn spark more discussion. Readers love seeing themselves in print!

4. Run a contest.
A few years ago, I ran an essay contest for a client in the financial publishing industry that was quite successful. A reader had actually suggested the idea to have other readers write about what they had learned during the market crash. We put the question out to our readership and the responses came pouring in! We ran the best ones in the email newsletter and had readers vote on which one they thought was the best. We offered a free subscription to one of the company’s paid publications as a prize. It got readers involved and helped us see what was on their minds after such a tumultuous time so we could better tailor our content to their needs.

5. Break content down.
If you always run one long column of text in your email newsletter, try breaking it up into smaller sections. Use bullets or lists to display information in an easy-to-read format. Conversely, if you always have short snippets, try writing a longer piece of content. And don’t be afraid that readers will tune you out after only a few paragraphs. If you write about relevant topics in an engaging way they’ll stick with you.

Follow these five simple steps to keep your email marketing newsletter content fresh and to ensure that readers are staying engaged with your content!