By Rebecca Strehlow
As part of your effort to spread the word about your brand, you might consider making an email newsletter. This small but mighty piece of email content serves as an invaluable tool for communicating with your subscribers, strengthening brand awareness and building customer loyalty.
Because of the myriad benefits of a newsletter, it’s tempting to get started right away. However, you’ll first need to familiarize yourself with the process to ensure you don’t leave out any crucial elements. This includes selecting on-brand templates for your campaigns, brainstorming compelling subject lines and writing clickable CTAs.
From choosing an email marketing service to crafting persuasive copy, here’s the complete checklist for how to create a newsletter from start to finish.
How to make a newsletter
01. Choose a platform
The first step is selecting an email marketing service that’s right for you. Having such a platform is crucial for making an effective newsletter, as it helps you pre-schedule emails and analyze the success of your work.
While there are a variety of quality services available, we recommend Wix’s email marketing tools because of the attractive templates and automated sending features. It also includes advanced data analytics, helping you analyze the success of your work and optimize your campaigns.
02. Set clear goals
Email newsletters can fulfill a variety of purposes, whether it’s to update your customers on relevant news or capture more leads. That’s why, it’s important to have your objectives in mind before writing the first word of your newsletter.
Knowing your goals will make you better equipped to write content that’s closely aligned with your business’s needs - and to measure your progress once it’s sent.
Some possible goals of your newsletter might be to:
Share news about your company, products or industry
Establish yourself as a thought leader in your field
Build customer engagement with your brand
Drive traffic to your website
Note that while you’ll want lots of people to open and read your newsletter, your main goal should go beyond simply obtaining subscribers. Your goal should reflect your marketing objectives as a business - whether it’s to get more website traffic, make more sales, or spread awareness of your brand.
03. Build your email list
Once you’ve decided on the goals you want to achieve with your newsletter, it’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty. The first step is to find an audience and grow your subscriber base.
Be careful not to spam addresses with unwanted content; a person must voluntarily subscribe in order to receive a newsletter. There are a few simple ways to get people to sign up:
Create email opt-in forms: These are forms of consent by website visitors in which they acknowledge interest in your product and authorize you to contact them. To encourage users to subscribe, create email opt-ins as slide-ins, pop ups or feature boxes on your web pages.
Use sign-up forms: To get visitors to subscribe to your newsletter, you can create sign-up forms and add them in various locations on your site, such as in the footer, sidebar or navigation bar. You can also place one on a separate newsletter subscription page to link to around your site.
Share your sign-up form on social media: If people follow you on social media, chances are they’ll be interested in your email newsletter. When you share blog posts, videos and other content on your social media pages, ask users to subscribe to your newsletter and post a link to the form.
Ask for subscribers in blog posts: Conclude your blog posts by asking readers to subscribe to your newsletter. If they’ve read your article all the way through, they could very well be interested in wanting more.
04. Stay legally compliant
Like most things in life, email marketing requires legal compliance. As you build your email list, double check to make sure you’re following all the rules. In particular, be aware of these two laws:
CAN-SPAM: This requires that you include your email address in the footer of your emails, as well as an easy way for users to unsubscribe.
GDPR: This privacy law mandates that you only send email newsletters to people who have manually opted in. Note that “manually” means that you cannot check the opt-in box by default; rather, users must deliberately check it themselves.
05. Segment your audience
Just as you need to determine your goals, you should also identify the target audience of your newsletter. These two elements work hand-in-hand to inform both the kind of content you’ll want to share and how you’ll want to present it.
Oftentimes, companies find that their intended audience of their newsletter broadly reflects their subscriber base as a whole. Other times, however, you might want to create dedicated newsletters for specific segments of your subscribers. For example, you might want to send different newsletters to people based on their demographic traits (such as age or gender), geographic location or purchasing history.
You can segment your audience at any stage in order to optimize your campaigns or perform maintenance on your subscriber list. That said, it’s a good idea to take note of your target audience before putting together your newsletter content. This will let you keep your recipients in mind when compiling the content and writing the text.
06. Decide what to include
The next step in creating a newsletter is to decide which content to include in your emails. The bottom line is to choose content that is not only strategic for your brand, but that also offers value to your subscribers.
Here are some examples of helpful and valuable newsletter content to consider:
Blog post roundups
Interviews with experts
You may also find it useful if each newsletter email revolves around a specific topic in your industry. For example, you might have one email about marketing strategies, and another about small business tips. While this isn’t crucial, it does help lend a sense of focus and cohesion to your newsletters - and can help build anticipation among your subscribers as they await your next topic.
07. Select a newsletter template
At this point, you know what to include in your newsletter, as well as who you’re writing for and what your goals are in sending it out. Now it’s time to choose an email newsletter template that will serve as the visual framework for your message. While you can create your own from scratch, choosing a pre-made template saves time and doesn’t require a professional designer.
Having trouble choosing a template from all the options? Here are some factors to consider:
Spaciousness: While you’ll want to keep your text succinct anyway, check to see that your template has enough open space to fit the copy you plan to include.
Simplicity: No one will stop you from creating a flashy newsletter if you feel it fits the identity of your brand. But for most of us, minimal text and color work great, and they even make the email more skimmable (a big plus for readers).
Mobile friendly design: Mobile accounts for half of all internet traffic. And studies have shown that if your emails don’t look good on mobile, as many as 15% of users could unsubscribe. For that reason, it’s imperative your newsletter looks great from a mobile device, which top-tier email marketing tools like Wix do automatically.
Once you’ve chosen your template, be sure to customize it with your brand colors and logo. These newsletter design ideas can help provide you with further inspiration.
08. Check your newsletter size
Most email service providers have a default newsletter size of 600px wide, with a 30px wide margin on all sides. Once you customize your newsletter template, double check that nothing gets cut off. Aim for a newsletter design that fits within the standard 600px width.
When it comes to the length of your newsletter, a good rule of thumb is to avoid making the reader scroll for more than a second. If your email is long and drawn out, readers might not reach the call-to-action that takes them to your site. In addition, some spam filters may identify longer email newsletters as spam. For this reason, limit the length of your newsletter design.
09. Write compelling content
Most people want emails that they can scan quickly. That’s why, in the spirit of keeping your newsletter short and readable, make your written copy succinct.
In the same vein, you’ll want to place your most important information first for quick-reading subscribers. This is the cornerstone of a writing technique called the inverted pyramid, in which you summarize the most critical information first, and then follow up with supporting details.
Your opening line can take a variety of forms, whether it’s a product promotion, important industry news or a strategic blog post you want to highlight.
The key is to place this information above the fold (above the point at which a reader would have to scroll). That way, readers will pay the most attention to your most crucial content.
10. Add eye-catching images
As you write your email newsletter content, you should also consider which images you’d like to use to accompany the text. Be sure to choose pictures that capture the attention of your subscribers while accurately reflecting your brand. If you’re sharing blog posts, an effective choice would be to place the featured image of these articles within your newsletter
Remember to also consider the size of your images. If the image file is too heavy, the email might not open.
11. Create strong CTAs
CTAs, or calls-to-action, are perhaps the most critical part of your newsletter. These tiny prompts are what motivate users to fulfill a specific action, whether it’s going to your site or making a purchase.
To make CTAs that convert:
Choose a contrasting color that stands out from the rest of your newsletter content.
Place it above the fold so that it’s highly visible.
Use action words to directly encourage readers to do something, such as “Read More” or “Buy Now.”
12. Link to your social media pages
Just as you use social media to promote your newsletter, you can also do the reverse: use your newsletter to drive readers to your social profiles.
You’ll still want your CTA to be the newsletter’s main focus, but you can use social media buttons to encourage subscribers to check out your profiles and give you a follow.
13. Craft an enticing subject line
The last thing you want is for subscribers to disregard your messages. To encourage them to open your email newsletters, craft a click-worthy subject line. You’ll need to play around to find out which kinds of subject lines work best for you, but aim for something that promises immediate value. Here's more information on how to master the formula for a strong email subject line.
14. Create alt text and plain text
There’s one final touch you need to wrap up your hard work: alt text and plain text.
Alt text is the descriptive text that appears when an image doesn’t load. This is essentially a safety net so that recipients know what they’re looking at, even when your pictures don’t load properly.
You should also check that your newsletter looks good in plain text. This is just a standard text format to account for any subscribers who use email clients that can’t properly display HTML. Even without the bells and whistles, the newsletter needs to be readable and it should be clear what the text is about.
15. Edit and test
Now that your first newsletter is complete, it’s time to review it before sending it out to the world.
First, get a second or third pair of eyes to edit your content. Make sure the design is formatted correctly and that there aren’t any typos or grammatical errors.
Next, send out a test email to a colleague or friend. Have them check to make sure the design loads properly and that all the links work. Pro tip: Test your newsletter on different browsers and email providers to ensure that it looks good on the most popular platforms.
16. Send your first newsletter
Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Once you’ve triple checked and tested your newsletter, it’s time to send it to your audience.
17. Analyze the results
Wait a few days until after you’ve sent the email newsletter, and then analyze the data. How did your newsletter perform? How will you use that information to improve on the next one?
Here is the most important email marketing data to pay attention to:
Delivery rate: The percentage of emails that were successfully delivered to your subscribers.
Open rate: The percentage of delivered emails that were opened.
Clicks: The number of people who clicked on a link within the email.
Bounce rate: The percentage of emails that weren’t delivered.
Spam reports: The number of emails flagged as spam.
Once you have the data, brainstorm how you can improve your next newsletter by increasing your delivery rate, open rate and clicks, and reducing your bounce rate and spam reports. For example, if your open rate is low, you may want to need to improve your subject line. If, on the other hand, you’re not getting many clicks within your email, you may need to rework your copy or optimize your CTAs.
Benefits of email newsletters
By now, you know how to make an email newsletter from start to finish, from choosing an email marketing platform to analyzing the results. As you fine tune your newsletter strategy, you’ll find it comes with a variety of benefits, including:
Building deeper relationships with your customers
Establishing yourself or your business as a trusted expert in the field
Targeting your subscribers with customized content
Increasing traffic to your website
Generating leads and driving sales
If you still haven’t created a newsletter, you now have what it takes to create effective, clickable content.
Image Credits Featured Image: WIX
Rebecca Strehlow - Marketing and Small Business Expert
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