I used to be addicted to Starbucks. And it wasn’t for the coffee or food — it was their rewards program.

I needed those rewards.

So I stopped at Starbucks every morning on my way to work. I saved up those precious rewards to get the free drink or meal or whatever.

It got so bad I had to cut up my Gold card and delete the Starbucks app altogether. Their rewards program had me firmly within its grasp — so much so that stopping there every morning was a habit I had to go to extreme measures to shake.

And I’m sure I wasn’t alone.

What if your newsletter could have the same effect?

What if you could render your readers as driven as I was to stop at Starbucks every morning?

What if your newsletter was irresistible to open?

That’d be pretty powerful. Well, I just discovered a newsletter that’s my new Starbucks Rewards addiction.

A Short Case Study on Creating an Addictive Newsletter

Introducing: The Game (by Toby Howell)

Photo by TR on Unsplash

Toby helped grow Morning Brew’s Twitter account from 30k to 300k followers. He was also a writer for the Morning Brew’s flagship newsletter.

He just launched his own newsletter called The Game: each weekly edition is “bringing you winners and losers from the past week’s news cycle”.

Sounds like a typical, news-focused newsletter, right? But there’s a twist.

In the first-ever edition, Toby introduced The Game:

One quick ask before you dive in: there's a Game waiting for you at the bottom of the newsletter. Please make sure to participate.

So what’s the game?

At the bottom of the newsletter is a button. Toby lays out the simple rules of the game — and what he’s done is brilliant:

  1. He’ll get instant engagement. To play, you have to reply with your guess as to how many subscribers will click the button. Replies get your emails out of the Promotions tab and into your priority inbox.
  2. He’ll get earn a high click rate. You are encouraged — and enticed — to click the button . If for no other reason than to see what happens.
  3. He’ll reward you. He’s incorporated a monetary prize to increase the incentive. A game with bragging rights as the prize could work. Money works better, though.
It might feel like a gimmick, but it works so beautifully.

The chef’s kiss? You’ll open the next edition — guaranteed — to find out: did you win? How many clicks were there? Did the prize pool double? What’s the next game?

Toby has masterfully reverse-engineered how to get readers to open, click, and reply to every email he sends.

Just a gimmick—or a brilliant strategy?

Toby’s created a newsletter that will increase replies, engagement & clicks, open rates, and virality/share-ability.

But is this just a gimmick?

If the rest of the newsletter’s content sucked, then yeah, maybe. But it doesn’t. If you read the entire newsletter, you see how the game fits with the general theme and content of the newsletter. Plus, I want to read even if I don’t care that much about the content.

And that, folks, is the sign of a damn good writer.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to make your newsletter a little more interactive and irresistible to open.

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