A newsletter is more than just words and pictures – this humble form of communication is going to be critical to your brand’s success. Need to know how to make a newsletter? Read on.
The world of email marketing is big and varied.
From welcome emails to abandoned cart notifications, businesses have plenty of tools to make sure customer engagement is high. But there’s always space for email newsletters.
What is a newsletter and why should you start one?
A newsletter is a regular report sent round by a business or organization to its customers, employees, or subscribers.
Newsletters should give the latest highlights and be easy to read.
They’ve been around in paper form for a really, really long time. But we’re here to talk about the email newsletter, occasionally called e-newsletters.
Some say that sending newsletters via email is a dying relic of old-school email marketing – but here’s why that’s just not true:
- Of all the content formats out there, an email newsletter is still the most effective way for businesses to nurture leads.
- People prefer receiving promotional content via email than any other channel, including social media platforms.
- Newsletters help keep your audience engaged and aware of your business. They can also give your brand credibility.
That’s not to say that businesses can completely misfire when they send news over email.
People have short attention spans – even if they’re bookworms, scrolling through a long, wordy email is nobody’s idea of fun.
Your emails need to be punchy, immersive, and rewarding both to you and your readers. Plus, you need to have a goal in mind when you design your newsletter.
How do newsletters help you achieve business goals?
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t create an email newsletter just for the sake of it. After all, they take some work to perfect.
Aside from choosing content and identifying what your audience wants, you need to think about how regularly you send newsletters. This isn’t a one-time thing.
That said, email newsletters can form a key part of your business strategy. You might want to:
- Incentivize employees. If your workers need to hit sales targets, identifying top performers in a regular news roundup could stir up some healthy competition.
- Nurture B2B leads. If you’re selling business-to-business, sharing industry news and positioning your company as experts is a great tactic to build credibility.
- Drum up hype for a new collection. Retailers can take advantage of newsletters by sharing the latest product launches and exciting their customers.
How to make a newsletter in 7 easy steps
To create an email newsletter that excites your mailing list, boosts your email open rate, and drives traffic to your website, check out our step-by-step guide.
It’s true what we say: these steps are pretty easy.
But before you start sending emails, make sure you’ve got everything covered. A great newsletter can be one of the best revenue boosting tools you ever use.
Step 1. Create a newsletter strategy
Whether you run a big business or a small business, you won’t be a stranger to strategy.
You’ve already strategized your brand, target market, marketing plan – now it’s time to create a newsletter strategy.
Either you already know why you’re creating a newsletter, or you’ll understand it once you’ve completed this part.
So let’s tackle step 1 with some more classic questions: who, what, when, and how?
Who are you sending newsletters to?
Knowing your audience from the outset will help guide your content. Are you going to email coworkers, or are you focused on customers?
If the newsletters are customer-facing, refine your email list. You can segment existing shoppers to figure out preferences, or target the email addresses of lapsed users.
Either way, get permission first. Make sure you’re not spamming people who haven’t signed up to your mailing list.
Don’t have a mailing list? Put a sign-up form on your website. To make use of personalization, add things like first name and birthday to the required fields.
What does your newsletter look like?
We’ll explore the design elements later on. Before you get ahead of yourself though, consider what kind of content you want to share in your newsletter.
This will drive how you find the right resources to make the mailout. For example, if you want to include a full article (spoiler alert: not always a good idea), you’ll need a great editor.
You could include company news and behind-the-scenes photos of your teams, or keep it slick and focus on advertising just your products or services.
When will you email out your newsletter?
Your newsletter should be sent on a regular basis. It’s up to you to figure out just how regular that is – weekly, monthly, maybe even quarterly.
Make sure it makes sense: you’ll need to have enough content to share and have the right resources to deliver newsletters on time.
How can your newsletter add value?
Once you’ve nailed your target audience, think about what they’d love to discover. Newsletters can be filled with a variety of topics, but add value where you can.
For customers, that might mean discount codes or the chance to queue-jump events and get the first look at your newest products.
If you’re emailing your own teams, they might appreciate incentives or coworker interviews. Everybody would love 5 minutes with the boss, right?
While an email newsletter should help your business boost revenue or engagement, it should also benefit your audience if you want them to keep coming back.
Step 2. Pull together content
With your strategy looking good, it’s time to think about what kind of content would make a newsletter truly indispensable to your readers.
Email marketing is incredibly versatile, and your newsletter content could be pretty much anything. Just as long as it’s interesting, on-brand, and easy to read.
This part is all about getting inspiration for your email newsletter design and content. Here are a few cool examples of business-to-customer newsletters to get you started:
Newsletters from Trello double up as learning opportunities. This website is all about workplace organization, and each newsletter is based on that theme.
Trello focuses on one topic per email, using a blog-style subject line to grab attention. The newsletter design fits the aesthetic of the brand’s website.
By dividing the content into bite size chunks and using illustrations and plenty of call to action buttons, it’s easy for the user to scroll through each email.
It’s also easy to click through to the Trello website from the email. This helps drive traffic and engagement – exactly what a business needs.
For smaller brands, a more personal newsletter is a great way to build relationships with customers. This neighborhood grocery store gets it just right.
As with Trello, each email is seasoned with call to action buttons to generate website visitors, and hopefully new leads.
But the tone of voice in the text is more casual, and readers are able to learn a thing or two about the people behind the business.
If you’re going to send this style of newsletter, do as Trude’s does and keep the copy short. While writing an article about your work is tempting, it isn’t ideal for email content.
These newsletters are sent as less frequent ‘editions’, which is great for small businesses with small teams. It’s nice surprise content to get in your email inbox every few months.
Cox & Cox
Your newsletter doesn’t have to show any behind-the-scenes footage. If it suits your brand and audience, keep the content and design sleek and simple.
A product-focused format is great for eCommerce stores. You can share new collections, style edits to intrigue your readers, and information that’ll give them peace of mind.
To generate leads from the get-go, add a discount code as an introductory offer for people who have just joined your mailing list.
As an extra perk for new email list sign-ups, you can add a call to action that encourages the user to set their own email preferences. That way, communication is on their terms.
Step 3. Design a newsletter template
Now that you have a strategy, and inspiration from other cool designs, it’s time to build an email newsletter template.
Once you design a template, you’ll know how much content each email will need. It’ll lighten your workload, too – creating a newsletter takes plenty of time already.
For every mailout, you’ll already be thinking about the email subject, getting interesting info from your teams, and growing your email list.
Having a template just makes things easier. Plus, it shows consistency, which is essential for business newsletters. Make sure your template can accommodate:
- Easy to read copy. Your email subscribers will likely want to scan your newsletter, so you don’t need space for loads of text.
- Clickable links. You do need space on your template for calls to action, especially for turning a list of email addresses into paying customers.
- Immersive content. Nobody loves a text-heavy newsletter. Engage your readers and make space on your template for videos and images.
Newsletter templates come in many different formats, so it should be easy (and fun) to create your own. Here’s what the best templates take into account:
People sign up to your email list because they want to read about your business, so make sure every newsletter design aligns with your brand identity.
Take design elements from your website and use them in your template. Check out how Transferwise uses its website color palette and illustrations in newsletters.
The best templates are consistent in their designs. Keep things like colors, text size, typography, and illustration formats the same in every newsletter you send.
What goes above the fold
Remember this when you’re thinking about newsletter templates: one study found that 85% of people check their emails on their smartphones.
The term ‘above the fold’ refers to what the user sees on a page before scrolling. You’ll need to make sure that the stuff they see first is cool and compelling.
We’ll cover how to perfect your content in the next step – before that, though, think about how your template design can make readers want to scroll down.
Calls to action
Templates should always make space for a call to action button or two (or five). How else are you going to get readers to shop, participate, or convert?
Call to action buttons should play a pivotal role in your email newsletter. One tap takes your audience from the newsletter to your website or social media accounts.
Keep actions short and punchy. You can vary the messages throughout the email, but we like how lifestyle brand Goop uses repetition.
Step 4. Perfect your content
With templates and content ideas swimming around in your head, it’s time to pull your first email newsletter together.
Create a newsletter that’ll overshadow all of your competitors’ email campaigns, and make sure that your content is looking sharp. Here’s a checklist:
Your newsletter won’t be worth your time if you mess up the subject line. If the stats are true, not everybody will open your emails, even if they recognize your company’s name.
Email subject lines should be able to tell the recipient exactly what they can find, or at least excite and intrigue them.
Just like template designs, keep the subjects on-brand. Does your company use emojis or puns? Use them here, too.
Order of business
Email marketing has to contend with skim-readers. Your audience will probably scan your newsletter in 30 seconds or less, so put important content at the top.
The most impactful templates have logos at the top of newsletters, followed by the hottest topic. That could be anything from an announcement to a discount code.
Obviously, all of your newsletter content will be interesting, but push heavier text and social media links down the page.
Don’t let a typo ruin your newsletter. It’s tough enough trying to build credibility in the world of digital marketing, without having spelling errors.
You’d hire a designer if you lacked design skills, so hire an editor if you aren’t into writing. It also pays to have someone proofread every newsletter.
Remember, your copy doesn’t have to be complicated. The best way to entice readers is to use short, lighthearted portions of text.
Links to long-form content
Your newsletter is where you should notify people about your most exciting activities. That could be a website upgrade or maybe a long-form article.
Rather than insert heavy content into an email, use links and call to action buttons instead. Or take snippets of text from the article – a great tactic to create intrigue.
Use email marketing to your advantage. You want to convert leads and drive traffic, so use plenty of links in your newsletters.
Create a contact information section that sits at the bottom of every newsletter. It can be subtle, but it should be completely accessible to the recipient.
Provide people with a separate contact email address for any queries, links to your social media accounts, and a link that allows them to unsubscribe.
For better engagement, you can also empower users to manage their email preferences with a simple link in this section. That way, they can tailor their news updates.
Step 5. Support your newsletter
The logistics of sending an email don’t have to be complicated. Once your newsletter is up and running, you’ll probably be able to do this step in your sleep.
Not that you should sleep through this checklist – getting these things right will ensure your email marketing efforts are always successful, all of the time.
The standard width of an email newsletter is around 550 – 600px. Check that your emails are a good size before sending, because you can’t tell what devices people will open them on.
When it comes to email length, there’s no hard and fast rule – make it suit the content you’re sharing, but don’t make people scroll for ages.
Personalized email marketing is a big deal. In fact, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with companies that remember them and give individualized recommendations.
For most businesses, it all starts with the newsletter signup form. As well as asking for email preferences, you can ask for things like birthdays, first names, and favorite colors.
If you run an eCommerce store, you’ve got the chance to utilize past purchase information in order to personalize content for your email list.
Depending on the email software you use, you can set personalization preferences to varying degrees.
We already mentioned that unsubscribe link – that’s mandatory. Under a couple of big laws (namely CAN-SPAM and GDPR), your recipients must consent to getting your emails.
Under European GDPR law, users have to opt in to giving you an email address. It also helps to give them content preferences on your newsletter signup form.
Ensure that your newsletter design is flawless on the most well-used browsers and email providers – if possible. Not every provider will read code in the same way.
Designs might look great in Outlook but weird in Gmail. The most simple tactic for testing browsers is to send your newsletter to a batch of dummy email addresses.
You don’t have to set up an email address on every provider, though. Some marketing platforms have tools for this purpose – we’ll explore these later.
As well as stress-testing your email designs, this step will help you to check how interesting your newsletter content is.
Alt and plain text
It’s always awkward when pictures don’t load. Hopefully your emails will be fast-loading so the design shines through, but be sure to use alt text descriptions, just in case.
Also check that your newsletter design looks good in plain text. With so many email providers, it’s likely that some won’t correctly display HTML.
Step 6. Engage and re-engage
It’s time to focus on your email list. Unless you have very loyal followers, your subscriber count will go up and down over time, so design a strategy to capture more contacts.
There are plenty of ways to recruit new readers, especially if you’re trying to communicate with customers or clients. Here are a few ideas:
On your website
Build a contact form into your website and make sure that it’s visible on every page. When it comes to design, simplicity is key.
All you need to do is insert a field so that users can type in their email addresses, paired with a call to action button that says ‘sign up’ or ‘subscribe’.
Add a sentence or a few bullet points, telling visitors what they can expect from your newsletter.
The work doesn’t stop once you start converting leads into paying customers. This is your chance to keep them engaged with your newsletter.
Add a box on your checkout page so that shoppers can opt into your email marketing.
It helps to add a little incentive in the form of a discount code for their next purchase. They’ll feel valued, and you’ll have an extra contact on your mailing list.
In a popup
You could tempt casual website visitors to sign up with a popup notification. Some businesses overdo them, so ensure yours isn’t too obtrusive.
Keep the message on your popup simple. Tell users what they’ll gain from signing up for your newsletter, like exclusive offers or wishlist reminders.
And don’t forget to put the signup box in the popup, so people don’t have to navigate elsewhere. Make it easy for them.
On social media
Attracting your social media followers is a smart move – they’re already into your marketing content, so showing them your newsletter is a natural next step.
Share previews of newsletter content on social media, or use captions to direct your followers to sign up for more information.
You could even post newsletter highlights in your social media stories – just don’t forget to provide a signup link.
In email marketing
Sending emails about emails – it sounds like you’re overdoing it. But you might have people on your mailing list who haven’t yet subscribed to your newsletter.
If you have customers who have made a purchase or an enquiry, but not opted in to newsletter updates, give them another chance.
When you send other email marketing content, insert a one-liner suggesting the user signs up for access to exclusive discounts, the latest news, and subscriber perks.
Step 7. Analyze and improve
You’ve strategized, designed, and launched your email newsletter – now what? It’s time to avoid complacency and keep analyzing your email marketing success.
We know, you just went through 6 other steps to perfect your newsletter, but you’ll want it to evolve over time.
Here’s how you can ensure your content stays relevant, and your readers stay engaged:
Set your business up with marketing analytics tools from the outset. You should be able to check the success of your newsletter against quantitative metrics.
The main measurables you need to be looking out for are open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates.
By checking out these figures following every campaign, you’ll gain some much needed insights into how people respond to your newsletter content.
It can be hard to learn that people aren’t interested in what your business has to offer, but it will definitely pay off in the long run.
If you want to play around with measurables like click-through rates, try A/B testing. This means testing out a couple of different messages to see which one is more effective.
Segment your mailing list and create different versions of your newsletter. You could switch up the subject line, call to action frequency, or overall content.
If you have a large email list, you can really play around with split testing and trial newsletters on a small batch of subscribers. Or use an email marketing tool to do the work for you.
Instead of setting all users up to the same schedule, you could automate emails so that new signups receive programmed newsletters over a period of time.
With this, if someone signs up to your monthly newsletter midway through the month, they get immediate communication from your company instead of radio silence.
You can schedule autoresponders to drip feed emails over the following weeks, giving that new user incentives to follow you on social media or use a discount code.
Be sure to monitor the effectiveness of drip campaigns against your usual approach.
Clever analytics tools and autoresponders are cool, but how about actual feedback from the real people reading your newsletters?
It might sound like the scariest option of them all, but asking for reader feedback can be the best thing you do as a business.
This tactic will work whether you’re marketing to customers or communicating with employees. Ask them what they want to read, see, or receive.
Plus, you could even add a segment into your newsletter that’s written or designed by a different reader each time – next level engagement.
5 tools to help you create a newsletter
Ah, technology. There are plenty of tools out there to support you in sending your email newsletters.
If you need end-to-end support, you can get that. You could integrate a marketing platform to your website builder – job done.
Just need help with design? There are sites out there that will let you play around with a drag and drop function until your eyes go blurry.
Here’s what you should look out for when shopping for newsletter tools:
- Functions to help you optimize your emails. We’re talking about A/B testing, send time optimization, and behavioral tools.
- Custom templates and slick editors, so that you can build your brand identity with no need to compromise.
- A generous number of contacts for your mailing list. You should be able to find a plan that works for the size of your organization.
And here are 5 great tools that will help you create a newsletter:
1. Zyro: a website builder packed with templates, a slick drag and drop editor, SEO support, AI branding tools, and integrations to help you thrive. If you have an eCommerce store with Zyro, you can integrate tools like Mailchimp to set newsletters up in style.
2. Mailchimp: one of the most comprehensive email marketing tools out there, you can get support with e-newsletters from $0 per month. Their standard plan at $14 per month gives you features like a customer journey builder and behavioral targeting.
3. Canva: this slick design software makes cool online content available to all. At $120 per year you can design e-newsletters all day with a fully customizable drag and drop function, use team workflows, and build your brand’s identity.
4. Lucidpress: the intuitive drag and drop editor, professionally-made templates, and data automation features of this brand templating platform make it an incredible resource. Get a quote for your Lucidpress business plan.
5. Sendinblue: another email marketing essential, this site gives users plenty of support while they build mailing lists and fire out e-newsletters. For $65 per month, you’ll get A/B testing capabilities, send time optimization and up to 1,000,000 emails.
What makes an effective newsletter?
Let’s recap – here are your top priorities when it comes to creating an effective, money-making, engagement-generating email newsletter:
- Knowing your audience. Check that you’re giving people what they want, then check again.
- Staying true to your brand. Designs and messages that match your brand’s identity are essential.
- Making it rewarding. People will want something out of your newsletters – give them something interesting, every time.