If you’re doing email marketing right, it’s an effective channel to see success. This explains why email marketing consistently ranks as being more effective than other forms of digital marketing, including social media, paid search, display ads and direct mail. Email is also the only remaining distribution platform where people, not algorithms or search engines, control if your content is seen.

And yet, you may not be talking to people at all when you send off your weekly or monthly digital newsletter. At least not in a way that matters.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs and one of the most sought after speakers on content marketing, calls newsletters the “backbone of our content marketing efforts.” But many of us miss the mark because we are too focused on the `news’ part of a newsletter.

A good email newsletter, Handley will tell you, focuses on communicating effectively with your target audience by being a “letter” first, and a news source second. We often share the latest or greatest happenings in our companies, whether that’s a new hire or a new blog, but what we may be missing is that we all still love receiving and reading letters because they feel so much more personal.

A successful newsletter should do four things:

  1. It should come from someone the reader cares about (such as your company’s CEO, not an email address from info@).
  2. It should communicate in a way that makes the reader matter. Pretend you have one subscriber and you’re sending an email specifically to them.
  3. It should be identifiable to your brand. Great content has a style, embedded in a brand voice that signals to people who you are immediately.
  4. It should be educational. Ginny Mineo, manager of content marketing strategy for Hubspot’s marketing blog and podcasts, suggests creating content that is 90 percent educational and only 10 percent promotional.

One example of a newsletter that hit these marks is New Hampshire Magazine’s monthly eNewsletter. Upon subscribing, readers can select several topics from a list in order to personalize their subscription based on the type of content they wish to see. The magazine’s newsletter offers recipes, suggests things to do around the state, sends special offers and information, and even recommends local restaurants to those who subscribe.

Here’s something else to remember: personalized email messages that feature a call-to-action improve click-through rates by an average of 14 percent and conversions by 10 percent.

Those actions are triggered by a level of trust by the reader. Start building that trust by speaking to the readers in your newsletter, not just delivering the news.