Creating an email newsletter is an effective way to provide value to your customers, drive them to buy more products, utilize your services, and bring awareness to your brand. Overall, newsletters are a necessity in any email marketing strategy.
If you are considering an email newsletter for your small business, now is the perfect time to begin conducting your own research. Subscribe to email newsletters from small businesses and brands you love. Think of local businesses with similar offerings. Look at what is done well, and what you might change as you create your email newsletter. Make a list of your do’s and don'ts. This will come in handy as you begin your email marketing journey down the road.
When starting an email newsletter, there are many components that go into creating high quality content. After all, a newsletter will serve as a voice for your business. As for time commitment, you'll need to write and proofread copy, brainstorm clickable subject lines, create compelling calls-to-action, design the email to work for multiple inboxes and devices and be visually appealing, avoid any spam triggers, and comply within the confines of email law to avoid being flagged for spam. Brush up on your knowledge before you begin, or jump to the end of our guide for a brief overview. One important thing to consider: if you mess up an email newsletter after it's sent to your list of contacts, there's no going back.
Below are 8 crucial steps for creating and sending a newsletter.
Step 1: Choose an email newsletter tool
A newsletter tool should fit your budget, goals, and your technical ability. For beginners, look for a newsletter tool that is easy to learn and to use. Some tools will offer free trials that will allow you to explore features and accessibility before committing to a subscription. The following tools have the option to utilize a free plan or limited trial.
Step 2: Set a goal or purpose
Your newsletter's purpose should align with what you are looking to achieve by sending your newsletter. First, decide what is most important to you. Are you looking to bring awareness to your business? Increase sales? Drive traffic to your registration page? Each newsletter should have a unique goal or purpose, and this can differ from time to time.
Step 3. Choose and customize a template for your newsletter
For beginners, we recommend looking for a premade template. A template should fit your goal with straightforward drag and drop content blocks. Your template will lay the framework for the content of your newsletter, so be mindful of style and space.
Next, add your logo. Be sure you include branding and imagery; you want viewers to recognize your organization upon opening your newsletter.
Look over your template to get a feel for space and length. You’ll want to make it easy for your recipients to read, scan, and click elements of the email. This means it should be mobile-friendly, too. According to Litmus, 41.6% of people open their email on a mobile device — around 25% higher than viewing on a desktop.
Step 4: Write your newsletter
So, you signed up for a tool, chose a template, and now it's time to write your newsletter. Sounds simple, right? If you wait until the last minute to begin writing, you may find yourself scrambling. Depending on how soon you plan to send your newsletter, you could be able to actively or passively find content in the time between two email sends. Active means you're going on the hunt for newsletter content.
Passive means that you'll randomly stumble upon something when browsing and realize it could fit nicely. Maybe you shared a photo and story to social media, or stumbled across an article related to your industry. All of these examples are great sources of content for your newsletter, and provide value to your readers. Tip: If you come across a web page with content you'd like to incorporate, bookmark it so you’ll have it when it's time to draft your newsletter.
Content Marketing Institute has defined five essential elements of a great newsletter:
- Brevity: try to limit it to just one page. Shorter, more frequent deliveries are more desirable
- Storytelling: The best newsletters utilize classic story-telling techniques. Adapt a conversational tone to draw your reader in
- Reader Focus: Don’t write a diary. Your audience is going to be interested in how you can help them, not hearing about all your successes and dramas. Newsletters focused on content draw more readership.
- Call to Action: Every newsletter needs to have a clear call to action. This can be in the shape of a coupon, registration for an event or even a request to join your Facebook page. Make sure you’re asking your readers to do something.
- Design: An attractive newsletter is going to encourage readership and support your brand.
Remember, you can take your newsletter in any direction you choose, but try to provide value to your readers so they will continue to open your emails. If you are a small boutique, share sneak-peek photos of your items, or compile a gifting guide during the holidays. If you are a CPA, offer tips and tricks for filers during tax season. If you are a home bakery, share seasonal favorites, customer reviews; the possibilities are endless!
Step 5. Add your content to the Newsletter.
Fill your template with words and pictures. There are a couple of different sites you can use to source free stock photos, such as our favorites Pexels and FreePik, which can come in handy if you don't have original photography on hand, although we recommend using a mix of the two. When finished, you'll need to edit your email thoroughly - maybe even send it on to one of your teammates for a once-over. Remember, once you send it, you can't fix those embarrassing typos, so make sure your newsletter is in tip-top shape before sending it off to your network.
Step 6. Write your subject line
Your subject line is one of the most important pieces of your email newsletter. It should be direct and build curiosity and interest so readers will be more likely to open your email. Keep things short and sweet - we recommend no less than two, short sentences. Check out 20 tips to writing catchy email subject lines via Hubspot Marketing.
Step 7. Comply with Email Law
Before you hit "Send," be sure your emails are compliant from a legal perspective. The two biggest laws to worry about? CAN-SPAM and GDPR.
CAN-SPAM: requires that you have a footer in your email with your address and an easy way to unsubscribe from your emails if they don't want to receive them anymore.
GDPR is a similar but more comprehensive privacy law that requires (among other things) that email marketers only send newsletters to those people who have manually opted in to receive them. In other words, wherever on your website you collect email subscribers, you cannot automatically check the "opt-in" box for them. They must deliberately check this box themselves.
Step 8: Send!
If you've followed this simple guide, your newsletter is ready to deliver to your audience of subscribers. A few days later, data and reporting on the performance of your email newsletter will be available. How did your newsletter do? What do you do next?
Check back to see how your email newsletter performed based on the goals you set back in step one. See which parts of your email got the most clicks, and which parts of the newsletter contributed most to your goal.
Once you have that data, you have feedback to consider for your next email newsletter. Whether your next send is in a day, a week, a month, or a quarter, you'll have insights to make the next newsletter even better than before.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about creating an email newsletter? You should consider checking out our Resource Navigator. It houses the contact information of 400 of our most helpful partners from across the state who provide free to low-cost assistance to Iowa entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Q: How do I build a list of contacts?
A: To start, you need to have an easily accessible sign up form. This should be housed directly on your website or a landing page that your newsletter provider can build for you. Make sure that you list out all of the benefits for signing up for your newsletter on the sign up form.
Q: Is having a newsletter really worth it in 2022?
A: Absolutely! A newsletter is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and entice them to come back to your website again and again.
Q: Should I hire someone to manage my website’s newsletter?
A: This depends on your time commitment and budget. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hand to set up and manage your newsletter, and have discretionary funds for various advertising projects, perhaps hiring out some help would be in your best interest. If you don’t have funds to pay someone for help or a few hours a week to spare, getting creative in how you can manage your newsletter to stay in contact with customers may be your only option. It will be a slow growing project, but eventually you will figure out something that works for you and your company!