For a long time, the term “newsletter” brought to mind memories of one-pagers students took home to their parents that they either crumpled into their backpacks or tossed in the trash.
But the digital world has given the newsletter a fresh makeover! Newsletters are still relatively brief (though they’re getting longer) and contain only the most essential and eye-catching information, but now they’re delivered via email. This direct delivery and email format mean these newsletters can be highly personalized and more relevant than ever before.
Newsletters are especially great for a chamber of commerce to consider because they’re inherently personal, help drive member engagement, and provide ample opportunities to recruit new members and retain the ones it has.
Whether you’re just starting to think about sending out a newsletter or you’re looking to revamp the one you’ve been sending out, here are some of the top ideas you can use to get your members to open and read your chamber of commerce newsletter.
1. Determine the goals for your chamber of commerce newsletter
Before spending time on any piece of content, it’s crucial to establish your goals. Ask yourself why a newsletter appeals more than other types of content. Think about how a newsletter best suits your target audiences. And start thinking about what you want to include in your newsletter.
Of course, one of the biggest goals to set for your newsletter is what you’re hoping to accomplish with your newsletter. Is it more member engagement? More volunteers? More donations? Sharing achievements of the organization?
There’s no wrong answer when it comes to your chamber’s newsletter goals. Just remember also to be thinking about tracking the metrics surrounding those goals like the number of new subscribers, open rates, click-through rates, etc.
2. Keep the design simple
When you hear the word “supercharge,” you probably think “more,” but in the case of newsletter design, less really is more. Sure it’s nice to have some pictures and maybe a nice header and footer, but aside from that, don’t go too crazy with the design.
We believe that every design element should have a purpose. And design, especially when it comes to your organization’s newsletter, should help make the newsletter more readable.
Heavy design can be overwhelming, and it can take away from your newsletter copy, which is the most important part of your chamber's newsletter.
The Bedford County Chamber of Commerce makes good use of its design. The organization uses images to promote the copy surrounding it, and it includes a minor design element to its “In This Issue” section which draws attention to what the reader can expect to learn about in the monthly newsletter without it being distracting. It also does a good job of keeping branding elements in the header.
3. Think of your chamber newsletter copy as “teasers”
It’s easy to want to pack your newsletter with information. You want your members to know EVERYTHING that’s going on. But your newsletter shouldn’t be a duplicate of your chamber’s website. It should be more of a flyer to disseminate information quickly, make announcements, and get your members excited for what’s to come.
Think of your copy as teasers. If you have a section promoting your upcoming meeting or event, write about the basics (what, when, where), but then include a link to learn more/register. Similarly, if you want to have a blog post, don’t feature the entire post. Instead, pull one or two paragraphs and link back to the full post, should members want to read more.
Structuring your copy like this is vital for two reasons: First, it makes your newsletter scannable, which is what you want in any email. Second, it encourages your members to take action. If you can get them from your newsletter to your website (whether it’s to register for an event or read more from your blog), you’re getting them to engage with your chamber, and that’s huge!
ACES: The Society for Editing knows how to tease copy. From the catchy headlines to the simple design, to the actionable links that take you to the website, ACES’ approach to teaser copy in the newsletter is one to follow.
Source: ACES: The Society for Editing
4. Switch up your topics from month to month (or quarter to quarter)
The thing about a chamber of commerce newsletter is that it’s easy for it to get stale. If you feature the same topics every month, readers will likely drop off and not open them because they already know what will be included.
Now there are only so many topics you can cover in your chamber’s newsletter, so don’t feel like it has to be vastly different every single month or quarter. But do consider playing around with topics and trying out new things to keep your newsletter fresh and your members on their toes.
That being said, it can be nice to include a section or two that are considered “regular columns” that members say they find a lot of value in reading. This gives readers something to look forward to with each issue.
Seasonal or holiday-themed newsletters are classic examples of ways to switch up your ol’ newsletter routine and create a chamber newsletter that’s relevant, festive, and interesting, like Santa Maria Valley Chamber’s December newsletter.
5. Make it about your chamber members
So often, chambers make their newsletters about them (what they’re up to, what they’re working on, etc.), and to an extent, that’s reasonable and understandable. But to boost readership, try framing your copy in a way that’s more about your members than it is you. For example, if you’re talking about your upcoming event, instead of saying “It’s our biggest event of the year” and “We’ve been doing this since 1975,” focus more on what your members will get out of it. Maybe include quotes from previous attendees or pictures of what members will get to see and experience. The more you make it about them, the more they’ll resonate (and engage with) your copy.
If you’re not certain about exactly what your members want, an annual or bi-annual survey is never a bad idea. And if running a survey for your members isn’t enough to determine what they want to read, you can check your newsletter’s analytics to see what links they’re clicking on, how long they’re reading the newsletter, etc.
The Independence Chamber of Commerce features its members regularly by including a “Ribbon Cuttings” section that features real photos of local businesses and chamber members.
6. Make an effort to showcase your chamber’s personality
Your newsletter houses many opportunities, and one of those opportunities is to showcase your chamber’s personality. Think about how many emails you get in a day. Well, your members get just as many, and if they get another stale, boring email from your chamber, they’re less likely to read and engage with it. On the flip side, if you’re able to make that copy a little fun and throw in some real personality (when appropriate), people are more likely to read it, and not only that but look forward to it every month or quarter.
And, remember, not everything has to be a joke. If you do that, it becomes less memorable. But if you are able to throw in some personality, it makes it seem like it’s coming from a person rather than a big or faceless organization.
The Millstadt Chamber of Commerce lets its personality shine with the inclusion of a unique logo featured in the header and images of its members in candid photos at fun events.
7. Use your chamber of commerce newsletter to ask for help
Chambers often rely on the generosity, talents, and time of its members. Your members can’t help if you don’t let them know what type of help is needed. As we’ve already established, you want to use your organization’s newsletter to highlight your members and make it about them — so don’t forget that many people join chambers because they want to be involved.
We recommend dedicating a small section to your newsletter where you list out your chamber’s needs and how your members can help like the Harrison Chamber of Commerce does in their newsletter. And including the section semi-regularly means you can be proactive. You don’t have to wait until your needs are significant to start recruiting help. It’s usually more stressful that way.
8. Respond to your chamber’s greatest needs
I bet you thought you were going to get through an entire article without hearing about the pandemic, right? We were so close!
But, seriously, whether it’s a crisis as global as COVID-19 or whether your community is experiencing seasonal floods or other local challenges, it’s always important to be responsive and supportive. Including timely information about how your chamber members can get help or can be a source of help is what a chamber is all about. Make sure your newsletter reflects that.
The Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce includes a personal touch in its newsletter by providing its staff’s contact information. It also offers COVID-specific resources that members can download and use as they recover from the pandemic.
9. Make your chamber newsletter mobile
Last but not least, it’s CRUCIAL that your newsletter is mobile-friendly. According to MovableInk’s latest U.S. Consumer Device Report, 73 percent of emails are opened on a mobile device. So if your newsletter isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s likely to wind up in the trash.
To make your newsletter mobile-friendly, try using a mobile-optimized template. And remember, always send yourself a test first.
Send a chamber of commerce newsletter members can’t wait to read
MemberClicks takes pride in helping chambers find ways to attract, engage, and retain members. If you’d like to send out newsletters and other emails more easily and make them personalized, get in touch! We’d love to work with you.