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Nick Berry

How to create an insurance agency newsletter that doesn’t suck

Create an insurance newsletter that doesn't suck

Well that’s a big ask isn’t it. Let’s be honest most newsletters out there are nothing but fluff. I don’t know about you but the only fluff I want in my life is the marshmallow fluff that comes in a plastic jar.

how to do newsletter marketing right?

I’ve been asked a couple of times similar questions, so here we are. I’m going to be really honest with you. A newsletter is a lot of damn work. But I can tell you, producing this newsletter has really helped me come out of my shell and get me thinking about what I do for a living besides the day to day stuff.

How to do newsletter marketing right?

Just like any other marketing activity, we need to set some expectations first.

  • Expectation 1: Growing your list will take time, like a lot of time. Don’t get discouraged.
  • Expectation 2: Consistency is going to be your key to long term success.
  • Expectation 3: A newsletter is a long play, this isn’t going to solve any sales problems today, this month, and probably not even this quarter, maybe not even this year. 

Now let’s set some goals.

  • Subscriber Growth: Aim to double your subscriber list in the first year. 
  • Open Rate: A good goal to start is 25% or higher. Don’t get too caught up though.
  • Click Rate: A good goal is 3% of all sent. This is the real one to measure, opens are a leading indicator, clicks are way more important.
  • Sales or Leads generated: As you keep working on this, you’ll start to see attributed sales or leads from the newsletter. And that’s really the goal right?

How to get your first subscribers

I started with zero intentionally. I am doing something as a side thing from my day job, so I didn’t have a list to seed with. But my goal is 5% growth every month, sometimes I hit it. The last few weeks I’ve kind of plateaued because I haven’t been as active on social media this summer. 

But if you’re reading this I’m going to assume something, you’ve got a list or customers or prospects already. So that’s a great place to start. DO NOT ADD YOUR ENTIRE LIST TO A NEWSLETTER LIST. Using the broadcast function of your crm/email marketing platform, send your list one or two emails inviting them to join your newsletter. What I did at Better Agency is create a landing page, and added a CTA to the bottom of all our blog posts. That gets us 3 or 4 new subscribers a week, without being obnoxious.

As far as using social to get more subscribers, I broke that down what I do in a previous post : https://nickberry.co/blog/stop-creating-content-that-goes-unnoticed-how-i-distribute-my-content-without-breaking-the-bank/

Consistency is all about systems for me

When I committed to building this newsletter I knew I would need systems and processes to not just make it easier, but keep myself accountable. So I took Justin Welsh’s ContentOS course. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking. But it gave me the systems I could replicate and that’s what I’ve done the last 23 issues I’ve published and continue to do.

One of the key things I took away from the course was blocking off specific times of my week to produce the content. So that’s what I did. As you can see from the calendar below.

My calendar process for creating content

My content calendar actually starts on Friday for the next week. I have two 30 minute sessions blocked off to brainstorm ideas. Sometimes that’s scrolling twitter, sometimes listening to a book on audible or a podcast. Then I dump ALL the ideas into a notion doc. Then I just let them stew all weekend. On Monday morning I open up the doc and go through the ideas again and pick 3 or 4 that I know I can run my mouth about. I put them in a google doc, and then come back to them Monday night after dinner. I’ll then start writing. Most of the time I just brain dump, with zero edits. That’s what Tuesday night is for. Tuesday night is also my weekly DND game, so I’ve spent most of the night not thinking about the content, so when I open up the draft, I can have the brain space for editing it. 8 out of 10 times I barely do any edits. Then Wednesday I do a final review, reading through it outloud to make sure it flows well, then publishing the blog post and scheduling the email.

There was no rhyme or reason why I picked Thursday to publish either, there’s no magic day. The company newsletter goes out Saturday morning and the open rates are just as good. So don’t get too hung up on that. And remember a newsletter doesn’t have to be weekly. If you just want to dip your toes in the water, try a monthly newsletter! These are great for community calendar type newsletters.

Most of the time I’ve set aside hours to not only write a decent newsletter, but a high quality article/blog post. And the social stuff takes maybe another 30 minutes to schedule.

The newsletter long play.

Like I said, this is a side project for me. I know I’ll eventually start selling something through the newsletter and content. But for right now, this entire thing is doing nothing but building goodwill, actually creating conversations with interesting people in the industry. That’s worth it alone for me right now. You could do the same thing. The newsletter you create could just be a goodwill/trust builder. That’s worth 5 hours a week right? 

If you made it this far, congratulations you deserve a pat on the back. That’s all you’re going to get. I’m already giving you my entire newsletter playbook, what else do you want?!

Now let’s get to the meat of this. What to send people. If you hired me to create a newsletter these are the 4 focuses I would give you to create from.

  1. Community content focus
  1. Adjacent content focus
  1. POV content focus
  1. Curated content focus

Community focused content

This is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a lot of work, but I recently heard Scott Howell mention this on an episode of the Insurance Guys Podcast. Become the unofficial mayor of the city. 

Here are a few content ideas for a community focused newsletter

  • Local Business Spotlight: This is one of my favorites because if you position it correctly it could be a very lucrative biz dev opportunity for your commercial producers. You don’t pitch the agency at any point in the spotlight. Just give the businesses in your community a voice with your list.
  • Local Athlete, Student or Educator Spotlight: Interview the student athlete, educator or honor roll student of the month. Same as above it’s all about them, not the agency.
  • Community Calendar: This one will take a bit of leg work, but not just great newsletter content, but solid social media content too! This one will require you or someone in the office gathering what’s going on people want to promote.
  • Volunteer or Charity Spotlight: Every community has great volunteer and charity organizations, but they rarely get much in the way of press, so if you’re involved with any or know people on the boards of these organizations they’ll give you plenty of content to work with.

Adjacent content focus

Now this one is tougher for insurance, but it’s feasible. One of my favorite examples is Michael Overstreet and his gardening video channel! Technically his content isn’t adjacent to insurance, it’s not even in the same ballpark. But everyone knows who is, and what his passion is.

I don’t know what you’re passionate about, but here’s a few ideas that might help you get started.

  • Cool Cars or Motorcycles: I’ve been trying to find someone to steal this one for awhile. What I would do is find the coolest cars in the community, interview the owner, get some cool pictures, write an article every week or month about them. Then share them in my newsletter and on social media.
  • Book/Movie Reviews: My wife is part of this crazy book club, that’s what inspired this idea. They don’t even meet, they have this massive group chat that’s talking about the smutty books they all read. Yours doesn’t need to be smut, but if it works for a group chat, you could easily steal this for newsletter content.
  • Cooking and Recipes: I get it, not everyone is a chef, but a lot of people are great cooks. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to find a dinner or lunch idea to feed my kids, and would love to have a personal recommendation sent to me from someone I know.
  • Family Activities: This one could probably be shoved into community, but it doesn’t could also be fun family activities you’ve done with your family. 
  • Pet Care: Let’s be real, we all have those friends that have fur babies. It might even be you. But a monthly round up of pet tips from your local veterinarian would be awesome in my inbox.
  • Tech Tips: If you’re a tech nerd like me, you’re probably ALWAYS buying new toys. Why not share them with your audience. 

The upside to all these content ideas, all of these are great organic social content too!

Point of View focused content

Now this one can definitely be insurance related content. I didn’t say this earlier, but all of these focuses are based on 1 thing. What you are comfortable creating content about, and what your audience is going to want to read about. I can get away with 1900 word newsletters because these are mostly technical and tactical things that you are very interested in learning more about.

And with all the things going on with carriers, the market, and regulations you probably have a lot to say. Let your opinion be known!

A great example of this is David Carothers, and Bradley Flowers. An honorable mention of just a beast at creating content is Patrick McBride, his is less POV and more explaining what all this insurance mumbo jumbo means.

Curated content focus

This is probably my least recommended focus, but it’s an option. Here’s my two issues with curated newsletters. Everyone sees all these cool curated newsletters like Morning Brew and says, oh I can do that. What they don’t realize is they have dozens of people running that newsletter. Their job is to constantly scour the interwebs for the latest news. That’s a lot of damn work. 

The second problem I have with a curated newsletter is sending my customers, prospects and leads to sites that might not have my best interest at heart. I link out to other sites pretty often, but you won’t see me linking out to my competitors or people who promote my competitors. That might be a little petty of me, but if you know me I’m just a little petty.

That’s all there is to it! I’ve spilled all my secret sauce, and if you’re not ready to churn out a killer newsletter, well then, I must’ve goofed up somewhere! Just kidding, you’ve got this.

Just remember, there are no shortcuts to creating a valuable and engaging newsletter. It’s a slow grind, and it requires commitment, creativity, and a sprinkle of insanity. You’ve got to be patient, consistent, and most importantly, genuine in your communication. Your audience can smell fluff a mile away, so stay clear of it.

The community, adjacent, point of view, and curated content focuses are your toolkit, but don’t forget to add your own personal flavor to the mix. Every insurance agency has its own unique voice and style, so leverage yours to the fullest.

And hey, don’t forget that creating a newsletter isn’t just about making sales. It’s a fantastic way to connect, engage, and build a sense of community with your audience. That’s priceless!

Remember, creating an insurance newsletter that doesn’t suck isn’t rocket surgery. It’s just about being helpful, engaging, and real with your audience. Now go forth, roll up your sleeves, and let the magic happen!

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