Welcome back to “Behind the Scoop,” a 4-part series that peeks behind the scenes of SendGrid’s customer-facing quarterly newsletter, The SendGrid Scoop. I’ve been sitting down with our in-house Engagement Marketing Manager, Jill Guest, to garner some of her insight and expertise from managing and deploying The Scoop. In case you missed it, check out Part 1 of the series which covers design and planning. Today, we turn to the team’s content strategy.

The Scoop serves two distinct audiences: developers and marketers. A couple of years ago, Jill tested out sending two separate Scoops with content catered to each audience. However, as the goal of The Scoop evolved, she realized that the newsletter was intended to provide more of a variety of content that would be useful for all customers–no matter where you sit on the marketer-developer spectrum she decided to release one newsletter balanced with both topics. This is the type of active testing that every email marketer should be doing on their own newsletter programs, says Jill.

Today, Jill and her team have arrived at a simple, easy-to-execute workflow for selecting Scoop content. She usually creates a draft of topics and then meets with a couple people on the team about a month before the planned send date. Content comes almost always from newly-created pieces published or released since the release of the previous Scoop.

The team, which is comprised of content and nurture and conversion members, reviews recent SendGrid news, product updates, and engaging content marketing pieces released since the prior Scoop. Once they agree on the pieces to be used, they prioritize where the stories will appear throughout the newsletter.

Tips for newsletter content selection

Jill says the following guidelines sets you on the right path when selecting content for newsletters:

  • First, review and slot content items that must appear. If there is anything noteworthy in the industry even if it’s not the most earth shattering thing to the larger population, they might be extremely pertinent to your customer base.
  • Whenever possible, include a mix of content pieces that cover various topics. For The Scoop, the most optimal combination of content includes a mix of product updates, best practices guides, and thought leadership blogs.
  • When selecting something like a blog, try to include actionable pieces that a customer can read and immediately take action to help solve a pain point.
  • Don’t discount a blog just because it didn’t get a lot of pageviews right away. A lot of times a blog may not get a lot of views—if it’s important Jill will still include it if it will provide a unique value to readers.

Jill recommends visualizing how the pieces of content will appear during the content selection process. Ask yourself: Will they be side by side? Will the images that accompany each complement each other or will it make things just look messy? Once you have the pieces in the newsletter template, test the appearance and how they may affect the flow of the newsletter as a whole.

You’ve chosen what’s going to be in the newsletter, now what?

Once she’s selected the pieces of content that will make up The Scoop, Jill works with the Content Team to write the headlines, blurbs, and call to actions (CTA). When writing newsletter copy, Jill says to take more latitude to be more creative with word choice and ideation in general. For more tips on writing email marketing copy, read 5 Rules for Writing Polished Email Marketing Copy.

Jill recommends the following best practices when drafting newsletter copy:

  • Don’t just copy the headline and first sentence of each story. Newsletter copy is more shorthand and the copy should be modified to be as succinct and persuasive as possible with as few as words as possible.
  • Spend extra time writing call to action copy. Try to avoid adding the phrase read more or learn more in your CTA.
  • Instead use distinct action verbs to become more persuasive and interesting.

For more insight on creating stellar calls to action, download SendGrid’s How to Build a Strong Email Call to Action best practice guide. Coming up in part 3 of this series, we cover the newsletter approval process and how the team avoids sending out emails with errors.

As a senior content marketing manager at SendGrid, Kelsey oversees the SendGrid Delivery blog. Her downtime is dominated by either her mountain bike or skis (depending on current weather forecast)–and mixing up a salty marg afterward.