How to Create a Newsletter (26 Tips + Considerations)
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 10th, 2019. It has been updated it to reflect the most current data and insights.
The benefits of an email newsletter are two-fold. Not only can you strengthen existing relationships with your subscribers, but you can also help prospects form new relationships with your brand.
Nearly three-quarters of all businesses spend time and money on email marketing and 69 percent of those businesses send email newsletters, according to The Manifest.
Creating a regular newsletter is a great, low-cost way to expand your marketing footprint. Newsletters give you the unique ability to create a community within your brand. You can share relevant and topical information that keeps your readers—new and old—engaged and coming back for more.
But knowing how to create a newsletter is only the beginning.
Read on to learn:
- What an email newsletter is and five common examples
- How to create a newsletter
- The best time to send an email newsletter
- Things to consider when choosing an email newsletter service
Before you learn how to create a newsletter, it might be helpful to understand what a newsletter is and how to best use one.
An email newsletter is one of the most common forms of email communication that companies send to their audience. They’re one of the best ways to connect with your subscribers, keep them engaged with your company, and keep your brand top of mind.
In your email newsletters, you can let subscribers know about new products, offer tips, feature sales, share blog posts, and more.
Much like its content, the send frequency of your newsletter can vary. Depending on the brand, email newsletters go out on a weekly, bi-weekly, or a monthly basis.
Originally, brands printed newsletters and placed them in the mail. But now it’s more common to see companies publish e-newsletters (email newsletters). They’re typically faster and cheaper to both produce and deliver.
There are a variety of email newsletters you can send. No matter which format you choose, set clear expectations about what kind of content your subscribers can expect to receive when they sign up.
If you say you’ll deliver a weekly roundup of new blog posts, but instead send your readers a newsletter that has discounts, coupons, and offers you wouldn’t deliver on your promise.
Here are five common types of newsletters to consider:
1 | Blog post roundup
This type of newsletter is designed to keep your audience up-to-date on the new content you publish on your blog. You could include tips on how to get the most out of your products or content that’s relevant to your audience.
Plan to send this kind of newsletter on predefined intervals that correlate with how frequently you create content (i.e., weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.).
2 | Industry information
Include news about your industry and help to position your company as a thought leader. Highlight what’s trending in your industry, new companies in your industry, new technologies your industry is using, mergers, or outline advice from industry experts.
Airbnb used one of their newsletters to describe what was happening in the travel industry.
If your product is subscription based, you could share news about your subscription-based offerings, why people are choosing subscriptions over one-time purchases, tips to manage subscriptions, and more.
3 | Events
Event newsletters are great for getting the word out about any events you’re participating in, sponsoring, or hosting.
If your company is regularly involved in events such as location-based retail pop-ups or industry events like Shoptalk or IRCE @ Retail X, chances are your audience will be interested to learn more about them.
4 | New products
Product-focused newsletters are a great way to grow your revenue, especially for businesses that regularly release new products or make updates to existing ones. These newsletters can include additional information links about the product, or coupons and discounts.
Tattly released a new artist series of tattoos and shared it with readers via their email newsletter.
You can even use them to gauge interest in a new product before you bring it to market.
Imagine you sell dog treats and you have a segment of customers who routinely purchase grain-free dog treats. If you have a new grain-free treat, use your newsletter to test if those customers are interested in learning about or purchasing your new product.
5 | Company news
A newsletter focused on company news is exactly what it sounds like—a newsletter that shares what’s happening with your company.
Share some highlights of last month or last quarter. Share your company’s mission and your progress towards achieving it. Providing your subscribers with a behind-the-scenes look at your company, your employees, and your customers can help you create deeper connections with your audience.
This type of newsletter is an opportunity to grow your audience’s awareness of your brand and create a sense of community.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the different newsletters you could send. Many brands often take a hybrid approach—they include content from several types of newsletters and combine it all into one newsletter that works well for their brand.
So do what works for you.
Once you determine what kind of newsletter you want to send and who you want to send it to, it’s time to write. Consider the following ideas as you start to research how to create a newsletter:
1 | Start with the goal of your newsletter in mind
If a subscriber does one thing after reading your email newsletter, what do you want it to be? Do you want your subscribers to click-through to read your blog post? Purchase a product? Sign up for an event? Whatever the action is, it should be easy for your readers to do it.
Put your desired goal or call-to-action (CTA) as close to the top of your newsletter as possible so your readers can’t miss it.
2 | Design your newsletter template
Different styles of newsletters can help you achieve different goals, so design your newsletter template to align with your goals. And the easier it is for your readers to consume your content and take your desired action, the better.
Whatever newsletter template design you decide on, be consistent with that design. If you always start with brand news followed by blog posts followed by product offerings, avoid switching it up the next week.
3 | Outline your email newsletter
Once you’ve settled on your newsletter template, sketch out an outline. This will be the general frame of your newsletter that you’ll fill in with content, images, and headings (drafts are welcome and encouraged). Outlining your newsletter helps you build a cohesive theme and decide what pieces of content are relevant to include.
4 | Write the body copy of your newsletter
With your outline (and possibly draft headlines) in place, it’s time to write the body of your email newsletter. Strike a good balance between text and imagery included in your newsletter—this will improve the readability of your content.
If you’re sending a newsletter with recaps of your most recent blog posts, write a synopsis that teases the main idea of the post. You will intrigue the reader to click through and read the full article on your website.
5 | Write (or finalize) your newsletter headlines
Writing compelling, eye-catching headlines will encourage your readers to browse the content within a section of your newsletter.
If you wrote drafts of your headlines before you fleshed out the body copy, revisit them to make sure they’re still relevant and clear. Since most readers will skim your newsletter, the more your headlines can pique your subscribers’ interest, the better.
Strong headlines will encourage them to read further into your newsletter and ultimately get them to click through to your site.
6 | Add images to your newsletter
The images should complement your newsletter copy. Your images are the very first thing a reader will notice as they skim your newsletter. If you’re looking for free, high-quality stock images to use, unsplash.com is a great site that provides royalty-free photos you can use.
7 | Personalize your email newsletter
This tactic will largely depend on what data about your audience you have available. If you only have your subscriber’s email address, consider basing your personalization on their previous web activity.
What pages and products have they looked at on your website? Consider including a dynamic section in your newsletter that will display blog posts related to your audience’s interests or previously viewed products.
8 | Write a subject line for your newsletter
The subject line is the single best way for you to increase your email open rates. So if you have one in mind before your newsletter, consider it a draft.
Once you’ve finalized your newsletter copy, revise or write your email subject line to entice subscribers to open your newsletter.
While there are a wide variety of subject line best practices, this is definitely something that you should test each week (or A/B test) to ensure you’re writing subject line copy that’ll maximize your open rates.
9 | Preview your newsletter on multiple devices and in email browsers
With the wide variety of devices and email browsers that people use, it’s important to test your newsletter to make sure it looks good on many devices and screen sizes. Your email template should be fully responsive, so it displays properly and looks visually pleasing to both desktop and mobile users.
10 | Schedule your newsletter to send
Read on to learn about optimal send times, and additional things to keep in mind as you choose when to schedule your email newsletter.
So now you know how to create a newsletter, but when should it be sent out?
Deciding when to send your newsletter is part art and part science. The real answer to the question of when should you send your newsletters is: it depends. Here are some factors to consider as you test out the send time of your newsletters.
B2B vs. B2C
If you primarily sell services to other businesses (B2B), chances are your audience is most likely checking their email during business hours.
Mornings and mid-afternoons work best for this audience. But feel free to experiment with sending your newsletter on weekend mornings since many professionals use that time to catch up from the previous week.
If you mostly sell to consumers (B2C), try sending your newsletters on evenings, weekends, or during typical commuting hours and see how your audience responds.
Do most of your subscribers live in the same time zone? If not, sending your email at 1:00 p.m. ET would mean that your subscribers in China, for example, would receive your email at 1:00 a.m. their time—and that’s not a time when most people typically open their emails.
Most email providers offer smart sending, which allows you to schedule your newsletter to send based on your recipient’s time zone.
Day of the week
There’s been a ton of research on which days are the best days to send your emails. Typically, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days to send emails, followed by Wednesdays.
Fridays tend to be the worst days, as many people may check out for the week and experience email fatigue by that point.
The best way to figure out which day will work best for your specific audience is to experiment.
Take a look at your existing campaigns. What type of device do most of your subscribers use to open your emails?
If they mostly use a mobile device, then it’s more likely your audience might open your emails during the evening than if you have a higher percentage of people who open your emails from a desktop computer.
If you’re sending a newsletter around a certain holiday or an event, consider timing it so your subscribers have enough time to take action (such as signing up for your event or placing an order by a final holiday shipping deadline).
Holidays can affect your open and click-through rates, so sending your newsletter on Christmas Day probably isn’t the best time if you want to maximize your open rates.
The quickest way to learn the best time to send your email newsletters is to test out various send times.
When you find a time that works well, focus on sending your newsletter out at regular intervals and in a templated format.
Not all email newsletter services are created equal. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind when you’re choosing an email service provider:
Built-in opt outs for your email newsletter
Because of laws like CAN-SPAM, CASL, and GDPR, you have to ensure your newsletter service not only tracks opens and clicks, but also handles unsubscribe requests so you don’t accidentally send an email to someone who no longer wants to receive it.
CAN-SPAM requires you to have a physical address listed in the footer of every email you send. If you’re unsure of what you need to do to make sure you’re in compliance with the various laws, seek legal counsel.
Easy list management tools
Some tools require you to upload your email addresses via a .CSV file whenever you want to email a list, but others make it much simpler to manage your various lists and segments.
Consider a tool that allows you to dynamically create lists based on the data you have about your subscribers, which will automatically add or remove subscribers to the list who meet certain criteria.
Newsletter send time automation
While most email service providers will allow you to send your email immediately or schedule it to send at another time in the future, some automation tools can trigger emails to go out based on certain actions a customer takes.
If someone signs up for your newsletter, you could send them your most recent newsletter the moment they sign up or you could send them a welcome series with your top content to help new subscribers understand what they can expect from you.
Email newsletter templates
Whether you’re a coder who can build beautiful HTML-based email templates or a novice who’s never built an email before, having a way to build an email template can be a huge timesaver. It allows you to visually see your email before it goes out.
Many tools have a drag-and-drop email template builder in which you can drag commonly used widgets, such as images or text, into the email to quickly and easily build professional-looking email templates.
Testing tools for your email newsletter
Testing your emails can help you maximize your subscribers’ engagement (and ROI) of each email. Many tools have built in A/B testing functionality that allow you to test everything from subject lines to images to body content.
Test subject lines to determine which email has the most opens or the most clicks. Or try sending each variation of the test to only a portion of your list over a defined period of time and then send the best-performing version to the rest of your list afterwards.
If you’re just getting started or if you’re looking to grow your list, having a built-in form tool that allows you to display pop-up or embedded forms makes it much easier to collect new subscribers for your newsletter.
This eliminates a lot of tedious work (like uploading of .CSV files) and allows you to easily gather additional information about your subscribers so you can further segment your emails.
Create a community with your email newsletter
Email marketing often has the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing channel because it provides a great way for you to communicate directly with your audience.
No other communication medium, including social media and paid advertising, allows you to reach your audience as effectively as email. You own your email list and control the timing and messaging of your emails.
Email newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with and engage your audience regularly. Create a community where your subscribers can read up on topics that build interest and trust in your brand.
Now that you know how to create a newsletter, start sending one regularly to grow your readership and community.
Ready to create your newsletter?