Every month, I send an email roundup to Buttondown's subscriber list about new features that are launched, upcoming work, and other interesting updates.
I end each email with some sort of exhortation to reply to the email:
Loved this email? Hated this email? I want to hear about it! If you think there’s something that needs to be improved — or, even better, if there’s just something you wish was improved — reply to this email because I want to know more!
Each time I do this, I get a lot of answers — last month, it was around 65.
This sounds like a fairly banal call-to-action, I know. But I'm confident that some variation of "plz reply" is the best way to drive engagement, especially when you've got a somewhat amorphous newsletter: this mailing list is a delightful cornucopia of potential customers, existing customers, and churned customers, so trying to be aggressive about selling isn't quite the right fit. (It's also, frankly, not my style!)
To quote from Brennan Dunn's excellent newsletter:
This is also a more reactive way of listening. Why? Because you can reply to those emails with, "This is such a great question, Brennan. Would you mind if I reply to this as a dedicated email to my list?"
This becomes a win for them (a much more thorough reply than they'd get if you were sending something 1:1), and a win for you – another piece of shareable content that reacts to an actual need someone has.