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7 Surprisingly Entertaining Email Newsletter Ideas From The History Channel

Written by Danavir Sarria

Media companies are pro’s at entertainment and The History Channel is no different.

While most people would rather fall asleep when given a regular history text-book, The History Channel has been able to build itself a raving fan base with its historical documentaries.

I personally love the channel to death. I remember watching everything from Nostradamus and Ancient Aliens to Human Weapons and Mankind: The Story of All of Us.

With 1.5 million viewers in 2015, you know they know a thing or two about how to entertain people.

And since the biggest thing missing in most email newsletters is entertainment, then the following 7 ideas may just take your email marketings efforts to the next level.

1) This Day In History

September 6th, 1915…

That was the day the first tank prototype, called Little Willie, was produced. Today, the tank is one of the most important pieces of military equipment there is.

September 6th, 1522…

One of Ferdinand Magellan’s’ five ships arrives in Spain. This marks the first complete circumnavigation of the globe.

Two completely different events that changed the world happened on the same day, but with a 393 year difference between them. Isn’t that crazy?

Now, imagine a newsletter where you do the same about your products or services.

For example, I sell copywriting courses. So if I wanted to do this, I can research about the specific days, weeks, or months when certain copywriting and advertising events happened like…

  • The day when Ogilvy & Mather finally merged
  • The day when Breakthrough Advertising was published
  • The day when Joe Sugarman’s Blueblocker infomercials were released
  • The day Gary Bencivenga was born
  • The day the first email was written and sent

…etc

From there, all I have to do is spin it so I can teach a lesson or so that I can sell one of my products.

Of course, of the 7 email newsletters ideas, this one is probably the most labor intensive. However, due to its nature, it has a couple of “pro’s” that the other’s don’t have.

The first is that it’s extremely interesting content. This is especially true in markets filled with enthusiasts. Most people who love a subject would love to know the weird or amazing history behind it.

The second is that it can be reused. Obviously, since the same days repeat year after year, you can send the exact same email year after year. So while there’s a lot more upfront work to find this information, once you write the email, you’re set for pretty much forever.

2) History In The Headlines

You know what’s one thing every person loves?

The news.

No, it doesn’t have to be a particular newspaper like The Wallstreet Journal. It can be news stations like CNN, articles from independent sources like The Drudge Report, and even just gossip between friends.

Everyone loves to be up to date with what’s going, especially if it’s extremely relevant to what’s going on within their own little worlds.

However, while most news is up to date, History In The Headlines is the exact opposite. Instead of talking about what’s happened in the last week, they take any relevant event that’s happened in history and position it as a news article such as…

Ancient Rome’s Dark Day: The Battle of Cannae
Microbe Behind Black Death Also Caused Plague 800 Years Earlier
When London Burned: 1666’s Great Fire
Was Skeleton Unearthed In Greece A Human Sacrifice To Zeus?
Joe DiMaggio’s Record Breaking Hitting Streak

Because of this, it’s very similar to the “This Day In History” The difference being is that any event on any day works, thus making it a lot easier to find the information you need to get this done.

Now, lets say I’m selling a subscription box with beard grooming stuff. Here are a few example “news article” ideas I can write emails about:

  • From 3,000 to 1580 B.C, metal false beards, called postiche, were worn by pharaohs and their queens.
  • From 210 to 209 B.C, the Terra Cotta army was built. The majority of the warriors had beards.
  • From 551 to 479 B.C, Confucianism was founded. The creator, Confucius, had a massive and impressive beard.
  • From the 1960’s to the 1970’s, the hippy explosion made beards popular again in America
  • From 1368 to 1644, most Chinese emperors of the Ming dynasty appear with beards or mustaches in their portraits

Of course, those are just the concepts. When you write the actual email, you want to present it as a news article with a proper headline and everything.

And as you can see, it doesn’t have to be directly related to the subject. Even loosely related topics can work.

3) Ask History

This is The History Channel’s version of the Q&A.

However, in their case, it’s not a regular Q&A. While most Q&A’s in the business world would be about product features, they answer questions related to history.

Here’s just a couple of examples from them:

What Is The Origin Of The Handshake?
Did Caligula Really Make His Horse A Consul?
Did Vikings Actually Inhabit Minnesota?
When Did The White Flag Become Associated With Surrender?
Did An Apple Really Fall On Isaac Newton’s Head?

Imagine your email newsletter being dedicated to just answering questions about your topic.

Now imagine how valuable that would be to your email subscribers. You could literally just ask fill up your reservoir by asking people everyday for questions and then dedicate 1 email to answer 1 question.

This would actually make things really easy for you since there’s no real effort to doing this. If you’re an expert on your topic, answering a question becomes really simple and fast. At least compared to a regular blog post.

And because you are answering people’s questions directly, you are both collecting data (like a survey) and helping people directly with their problems.

Lets say I’m selling a fitness app that builds workouts for you. I could answer questions in my emails like…

  • Does eating fats actually make you fat?
  • What muscles do deadlifts work?
  • How much water should you drink a day?
  • What’s a good time for a mile run?
  • How many pushups should a man be able to do?

Of course, the more specific the question the better. And if you can get them directly from your subscribers/customers, that’s even better still.

Plus, since they are direct questions about your topic, it’s extremely simple to pivot from content to promotion without being seeing as overly promotional.

For example, I can easily write a short 200 word email about “Does eating fat’s actually make you fat?” and then soft-sell my app by saying that good nutrition needs to be combined with effective workouts to burn fat.

Of all 7 ideas in this list, this one may just be the most valuable to your subscribers.

4) History Lists

7 Things You May Not Know About Geronimo
7 Little Known Wonders Of The Ancient World
8 Things You May Not Know About Attila The Hun
8 Famous Barbarian Leaders
6 Things We Owe To The Vikings

These are 5 articles you’ll find on the “History Lists” tab of The History Channel site. Now, if you’ve ever spent just 5 minutes surfing the web, you know exactly what type of articles these are.

They’re just plain ol’ listicles.

They’re nothing new. They’re nothing exciting. And they are definitely nothing you can’t do. In fact, they’re probably the easiest form of long-form content you can make.

But the real upside to listicles is the fact that they are proven to lead to a lot views. Sure, if every email you write is a listicle, that will probably dip your open rates over time.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that people just like them. Plus, they work in just about any market.

So lets say I’m selling a TV. A few listicle emails can be…

  • The top 10 most watched shows on TV
  • 5 shows for dad’s to watch with their sons
  • 7 ways to make watching TV twice as fun
  • The top 9 sports news channels
  • 8 reasons why mom’s love “I Love Lucy”

It’s really up to you how “classic” or how “outrageous” they can be. So be a bit creative and even find ways to plug your product within the listicle itself if you can do so without shoving it down their throats.

5) Hungry History

This is actually the one I’m most surprised about.

In a channel about history, you wouldn’t normally expect a whole section of their website just dedicated to the history of food, especially when no other specific topic has it’s own section.

Now, I’m not expecting you to write about food… But there is a lesson to be learned when looking at this…

Ask yourself… is there a specific niche topic that is related and useful to those in your target market that is NOT directly about your product?

For example, let say I’m selling men’s suits.

I could talk about suits and general men’s style, but before I go there, I can ask myself first WHY men would care about wearing such nice suits in the first place.

Off the top of my head, there would be 2 reasons…

There first is to be more professional so they can be taken more seriously and get better jobs or more money.

The second is dating. Men want to look good to get more and hotter women. Plus, every woman knows that men look good in suits.

So why not have emails dedicated to giving advice about getting jobs, moving up the corporate ladder, how to make more money…etc

Or you can write emails dedicated to how to talk to girls on the street, how to get a girl’s number, how to dress for a date, where should you take a girl for a date…etc

The great thing about writing these type of emails is that they feed the need for your product.

So if my emails feed on the fact that men should strive to achieve more or that men need to date more and hotter women, then selling the my suits becomes pretty easy to do because it allows them to reach their goals.

6) Famous Speeches

This one may seem impossible to work for emails, but let me explain.

So in this section of their site, they basically archive all of their recorded famous speeches.

Some of them include Jackie Robinson on Racial Taunts, Japan’s Unconditional Surrender, Ronald Reagan’s Anti-Soviet Joke and way more.

Many of these speeches are famous because they’ve led to changes in societies, ended wars, started wars, and some have even changed the entire world.

With that said, there’s no reason why you can’t write emails that talk about certain speeches or certain sentences within a speech.

Depending on how crafty you are, you can actually take these same famous speeches and connect your product to them somehow. It’s a skill that everyone learning how to write copy should learn to do.

But lets say you don’t want to or you just can’t…

You can use any type of speech. It doesn’t have to be a world changing speech from some celebrity or government official.

Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a speech. It can be a quote you took from a Facebook page, Youtube video, Instagram image, Snapchat story or anything else.

Bonus points if you get a quote from someone big within your own market.

For example, lets say I’m selling sports supplements. Here are just a couple of quotes you can write entire emails about

  • “Perfection isn’t required for elite athletes – or for ‘regular people. For most, aiming to get 80% of your meals on-point is an effective goal”
  • “Just because a food is ‘healthy’ doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone”
  • “You eat what your brain tells you to eat”
  • “You don’t get to decide if you need recovery or not”
  • “We are all, literally, born to move”

All of the quotes above can easily translate to an email. In fact, this is one of my most preferred ways to write emails because other you’re essentially repurposing other people’s content to write your own.

7) Did You Know?

Did you know Christmas wasn’t always celebrated on December 25th?
Did you know Paul Revere didn’t ride alone?
Did you know Turkey wasn’t served in the first Thanksgiving?

It was comments like these that were revealed right before a commercial break that really made me love when there was one.

As the title implies, “Did You Know?” almost always mean that you’re going to share a little known fact.

Your entire email doesn’t need to be a “Did You Know?” thing. It only needs to start that way. And depending on how you set up your email newsletter, it can also be just an entertaining section of it rather than the focus.

So how do you apply this for your emails?

It’s pretty simple…

The first thing you want to do is to collect small bits of little known information. For the most part, if you’re an expert in your topic, much of what you already know would be news to your audience.

This is especially true if your audience is full of beginners.

The second step is to just include them in your emails as either the focus or just a feature within the email itself.

For the most part, I would put them as the focus and then spin that little “fun fact” into either a lesson or a pitch to your product.

Here are a couple of examples if I were to do this for my list…

  • Did you know? Agora’s U.S affiliates don’t build a list of free subscribers. Instead, they focus on building an email list of customers and then write free email newsletters for them.
  • Did you know? Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library uses daily emails to sell their wine.
  • Did you know? David Ogilvy shaped email marketing before email marketing even existed. The amazing results he got from creating ads that soft-sold products is what defines good email marketing today.
  • Did you know? Email is the online version of direct mail.
  • Did you know? Curated email newsletters are some of the most popular forms of email newsletters.

Conclusion

The History Channel is chalk full of ideas you can use to come up with individual or even entire series of emails you can sent to your list.

It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, all of these ideas can be used to create an email newsletter that your subscribers will absolutely love to open.

You can mix and match. You can focus on just one. Heck, you can even position your entire newsletter to be about 1 of the above ideas if you wanted to.

Point is, these ideas will help you write interesting and valuable emails to your list regardless of what market you’re in.

About the author

Danavir Sarria

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