Email marketing is booming. According to Hubspot, in 2019, 78% of marketers had seen an increase in email engagement.
If the resurgence in newsletters has left you wondering how to create a newsletter that people actually want to read, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll remind you why you need newsletters as part of your marketing strategy and we’ll share a step-by-step guide to starting one that readers won’t trash.
The what and why of newsletters
Are email newsletters worth it? We think they are!
A newsletter is a kind of email sent to keep subscribers informed about your business. They’re part of a strategic marketing channel and are sent through email marketing software like MailChimp and ConvertKit.
Newsletter vs blog posts: what’s the difference?
Blog posts are written for your online audience. They live online on your site and can be accessed by any reader who stumbles on them. Newsletters are written for inboxes and sent using email marketing tools. As a result, they are often shorter, quicker pieces of content with a different marketing goal.
Why you need an email newsletter
Here are three important reasons why you need an email newsletter:
- Driving sales: According to Litmus, email marketing has the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing channel. The average ROI for emails across industries is $36 per dollar spent. Newsletters are a great way to tell invested customers about new products and persuade them to purchase. Babylist’s newsletter below is a good example.
- Content distribution: Many brands use their newsletters to share their content and it works. 87% of B2B marketers say email is one of their top free organic distribution channels, according to Content Marketing Institute. If you want to reach an audience that isn’t on social media, email newsletters might be the way to go. Semrush uses email newsletters to share content.
- Customer connection: Let’s face it, emailing people is more intimate than reaching them via SEO or on social media. By sharing their contact information, they’ve invited you to add one more email to their inbox. They can send you private replies directly and you can track their behavior or automate emails based on their preferences. That’s peak connection! Girls’ Night In does something similar with their weekly email newsletter.
7 steps to create a newsletter that hits email marketing targets
Now that you understand why you should invest in a newsletter, here’s our step-by-step guide for creating a newsletter.
1. Define the goals of your newsletter
What would you like to achieve with your newsletter? Want more site traffic? Then focus on sharing blog content with your audience. Interested in driving more sales? Do a weekly product roundup or write product-led newsletters. If customer connection is your goal, use your newsletter content to educate your audience or share an inspiring interview with them to foster connection.
Tip: If your goal is to grow your audience, then serve your audience by sharing links to useful resources or giving away freebies.
2. Build your newsletter email list
Building a newsletter list from scratch can be intimidating, but don’t be daunted. After all, everyone starts at zero email subscribers.
Share your first newsletter (and even subsequent installments) publicly on social media, including a link to read it so readers can get a peek before deciding to commit. Here’s how MarketerHire promoted an installment of their newsletter.
Most importantly, take advantage of website traffic (if you already have it) by using sign-up forms on your site. Here are our best tips for creating sign-up forms:
- Pop-ups are the most effective option, but be sure to have a visible exit button for visitors who do not want to subscribe.
- Tell readers exactly what they’re signing up for in as few words as possible
- Limit form fields to NAME and EMAIL, if possible
- Optimize your sign-up forms for mobile
- Provide a sign-up incentive where possible
Story Matters has an appealing sign up form that mentions what subscribers can expect and keeps the form fields minimal. We love that they’ve included a preview on the side for those who want a look before they commit.
Tip: If you’re just starting out, ask friends and family who are interested in your brand or product to sign up — you can even sign them up yourself with their permission.
3. Find or create the right template
Your email newsletter template could either make your newsletter a joy or a pain to read. Depending on your content type, you can choose between a minimalist or a visual email newsletter design.
Unsure how to create a newsletter template? You can:
- Check your newsletter client: Most of them offer customizable email templates.
- Custom design: You can hire a designer to create a custom newsletter template.
- DIY design: Alternatively, design one yourself using the basic elements in your newsletter clients.
Tip: Ensure that your template is optimized for mobile and desktop viewers. Most email newsletter clients alert you about overly large images and incompatible templates and you can preview the newsletter both on desktop and mobile before sending it.
4. Create email copy with Jarvis
Now to the meat of the matter: writing the email. Like with all pieces of content, your headline is crucial. This is even more so with email newsletters as your email subject line can determine whether or not readers open your email.
It’s easy to be creative when you write one subject line a day, but when email marketing is your job, your creative well can dry up fast. As such, our top tip for writing email subject lines that pop is using an AI writing tool. Jarvis is our foremost recommendation. This AI tool has over 52 writing templates including the Email Subject Line and Persuasive Bullet Points templates—both of which are invaluable for writing newsletters.
Here’s how the Email Subject Line template works:
You can also use A/B testing if you have two email subject options. This feature sends the same email to a small group of subscribers, each with one of your two subject line choices. After about four hours, the subject line with the most opened is sent to your remaining subscribers.
Jarvis’s Long-Form Assistant template can also help with writing the body of your newsletter. You can either let Jarvis write from scratch by providing pertinent information about your newsletter or alternate between you and Jarvis writing the copy. Don’t believe us? Here’s an example of a newsletter written by Jarvis. Here’s an example we created ourselves:
Next, let’s see the Persuasive Bullet Points template in action:
Tip: Bullet points make your newsletter easier to skim and less intimidating than blocks of text. They also distill information about your marketing campaign into digestible lists.
5. Test different browsers and email providers
Once you’ve written and proofread your email content, there’s just one more step before your send: testing. These are the top three ways to test your email content:
- Send a test email: Most email newsletter software allows you to send a test email to an email address of your choice. You can then choose to read it on your mobile device or computer for a second proofread.
- Use a testing tool: Tools like Litmus test the appearance of your newsletter across 90+ apps and email clients. This allows you to check that the format, font, and images will be preserved for every reader. Most newsletters can be sent as plain text and HTML versions.
- Preview email: Newsletter clients also allow you to preview your email as it will appear on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device — without leaving the newsletter client.
Tip: Never send out an email without previewing! It’s the best way to check for typos and see your text formatting firsthand.
6. Start sending newsletters to your readership
Written, tested — and now time to hit send! You can either schedule your newsletter or send it right away. However, the most important part of sending is ensuring deliverability.
Newsletter experts recommend doing the following things to make your newsletter less likely to end up in spam folders:
- Watch out for spam-alert words in your subject lines: If words like FREE, BUY, and the like repeatedly show up in your subject lines, email clients may mark you as spam.
- Write good emails: Interesting content means higher open rates and fewer people marking you as spam.
- Only send emails to people who subscribed: Emailing people who did not sign up will only get you marked as spam, which will affect your deliverability. Ensure that your subscribers did opt-in on their own and include a link to unsubscribe in every email you send.
- Use a recognizable sender name: That way, people know who’s sending. Maintaining a consistent brand identity will also make your newsletter easier to identify.
Tip: Send your email from your business domain. This means your sending email should be @[yourbusinessname].com, not a general @gmail.com email.
7. Analyze Your Results
The work doesn’t end when the email goes out. Now, it’s time to monitor and analyze results. Look out for the following metrics to determine engagement levels:
- Open rate: How many subscribers opened your email.
- Click rate: How many clicked the links in your email.
- Click-through rate: Number of people who clicked links divided by the number of delivered emails, multiplied by 100.
For context, the average open rate for newsletters is 21.33%, according to MailChimp. Aim to have an average above that figure.
Tip: If your open rate is low, it’s likely that your subject lines aren’t engaging or you’re not hitting your audience’s pain point. You may want to consider segmenting your email list to focus on the needs of specific audience groups.
Create a newsletter worth reading
Email marketing is hard work — as are all kinds of marketing. The best starting point is setting a goal. Then focus on writing copy that appeals to your audience, and ensuring that your deliverability and analytics are top-notch.
Essentially, a great newsletter begins with exceptional content and a brilliant email subject line. You can accomplish both of these things at scale with Jarvis without losing a lot of time. In addition to the Email Subject Line and Persuasive Bullet Points template, you’ll find over 50 templates to explore. Better still, you’ll also find Jarvis Bootcamp super helpful for helping you get the most out of using Jarvis.
What are you waiting for? Sign up for Jarvis to start connecting with your email list.