The 5Ws of Newsletter Marketing

Posted July 9, 2020 by Alyssa Stahr

Coming from a journalist’s background, the who, what, when, where and why of how we do things in the content marketing world has always been of particular interest to me. Sometimes those tenants get buried in the hopes of churning out content and “scooping” the competition. But, here at Brightly Creative, I’m on a team that recognizes the value of the 5 Ws, and our strategy is to use the digital space for newsletters as effectively as possible for our clients. So, in true listicle fashion, I’ve compiled 5 tips for creating better newsletters.


As a writer, sometimes I get lost in the who. I want to write for myself; I have a writer’s ego and I sometimes have to reset my brain to ask, “Who am I writing this for?” Out of the 5 Ws, I place this one at No. 1 in terms of importance. Targeting is a valued piece of content marketing, and if we don’t place goal setting eyes on the end user, the words are simply a waste of time and effort. Once you establish the who, now you can decide if the content goes from business to consumer, business to business or a new bucket you’re projecting. And, with newsletters, part of the who comes to you in terms of subscribers, email signups or general fans of your product and service. Repeat consumers of information are of extreme value — they’re more likely to share, engage and create ever-important user generated content. 

What … and Why?

You’ve established who you’re writing for. Now, the topics are endless. I believe that the what and the why are simultaneous ventures in terms of content brainstorming and strategy. Content, especially when it comes to newsletters, should be targeted and part of strategic messaging or a theme. Newsletter content serves a multitude of reasons, harkening back to handwritten content originating in the Roman Empire. They’re an age-old practice, used as a way to share events, promote services, share mutual interests through information, engage audiences and convert sales. 


Here’s where my love of technology plays a part. Algorithms and analytics give us the data we need to understand when to submit the hard work to our beloved audiences. Believe it or not, time of day, day of the week and frequency of content dispersed all play a part in strategic planning. Do you want your newsletters to hit email inboxes during lunch so audiences can casually browse through? Maybe you want the early morning crowd who is ready to face the day with a freshly loaded inbox full of great information. Perhaps end of day is best, where consumers can casually browse through deals or fun stories at their leisure. Or — maybe you’re literally throwing time of day up against the wall to see where it will stick. That’s where analytical data can help. Click throughs, open rates and more tell a story as important as the content on your page. We can help mine through the data that sometimes may be a bit overwhelming. 


We’re in the digital age, so chances are newsletter mailings are no longer physically going to traditional mailboxes across the country. The Orange County Attorney Journal shared a historical account of newsletters that echoes a sentiment of high importance: You can reach thousands (or millions if you’re a huge company) of people with a click of a button. Newsletters are “rooted in principles that predate Cleopatra,” as the oldest known piece of direct marketing was dated over 3,000 years ago. They’ve gone through the Gutenberg press to neighborhood flyers to newspaper printing to Poor Richard’s Almanack and everything in between. And now, they’re landing in our digital inboxes. The means of disseminating information may be new, but the aim is more key now than ever. Use the space wisely; value your audience’s time (because you know how flooded inboxes can get) and head to an agency (namely Brightly Creative) when you need experts to step in. 

Now that we’ve got the 5 Ws down, there’s one more piece of the newsletter strategy: the how. Leave that up to your team at Brightly Creative. Need to implement a newsletter campaign and not sure how? Contact us to get started.

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