10-step email newsletter guide (with examples + features to look for)
Chances are, your digital marketing strategy is pretty diverse.
You’ve got your paid ads, your social posts, and a calendar full of email campaigns.
If sending a regular newsletter out to email subscribers isn’t part of your email marketing strategy yet, you’re in the right place.
Newsletters are a great, low-cost way to build trust with your target audience without constantly pushing products on them. They also give you the ability to create a community within your brand.
You can share relevant and topical information that keeps your readers—new and old—engaged. The right newsletter content fosters loyalty and even creates brand evangelists.
Image source: Twitter
But knowing you want to create a newsletter is only the beginning.
What is an email newsletter?
An email newsletter is a regular email companies send to stay connected with their audience. It usually features content that engages the customer, like:
- The brand’s products
- Company updates
- Feature sales
- Relevant blog posts
- Other announcements
Newsletters are one of the best ways to connect with your subscribers, keep them interested in your brand, and keep your products and mission top of mind.
Depending on what you’ve got to share and how engaged your list is, email newsletters go out on a weekly, bi-weekly, or a monthly basis.
While direct mail is making a bit of a comeback in marketing, it’s still more common to see companies publish email newsletters. They’re typically faster and cheaper to produce and deliver.
No matter how you decide to structure your newsletter, you need to set clear expectations about what kind of content your subscribers can expect to receive when they sign up.
Why should businesses send email newsletters? 5 good reasons
According to the Content Marketing Institute, nearly a third of B2B marketers say that sending email newsletters is the best way to nurture leads.
Whether your business is just starting out or you’ve been doing email marketing for years, if you don ’t have an active email newsletter, now is the time to get started.
Why? Email newsletters are a perfect way to keep in contact with your subscribers without necessarily actively selling to them. This helps keep the connection alive without overloading them with sales techniques.
Let’s dig into a few more reasons why creating a newsletter is a great move.
Image source: Twitter
1. Regular communication strengthens customer relationships
Email newsletters usually go out on a regular cadence. Even if your audience doesn’t carefully read each one, they’re likely to get used to seeing you in their inbox.
And if your newsletter content is educational or personal and not always sales-y, your customers see how much value you provide them besides what your products can do for them.
Consider doing the following in your newsletter to help strengthen your customer relationships:
- Educate your customers on subject matter related to your products. For example, if you sell bait and tackle, your subscribers might appreciate regular updates about ocean and beach clean-up events.
- Educate your customers about how to use your products. If influencers and regular customers have posted videos about how to style your clothes, for instance, or cooking tutorials using your products, email newsletter campaigns are a great place to repurpose that content.
- Share personal stories. If the internet has shown us anything, it’s that vulnerability—and even just sincerity—can go a long way toward building trust. If your founder story is rooted in a personal event, it may be worth sharing in a newsletter. It might really resonate with your email clients.
2. Newsletters are an opportunity to increase brand awareness
Really, an email newsletter is a chance to share whatever you want, including information about your brand that might not fit perfectly into product-focused marketing. That’s one reason why email newsletters are such a valuable way to improve brand perception.
Here are a few specific ways to do this:
- Send a co-branded newsletter with a partner brand. That way, their audience learns about your brand and what you do, and vice versa.
- Publicize charity work your brand does with other organizations. Shoppers can give their money to any business. Give them a reason to feel good about giving it to you.
- Repurpose social posts into newsletter content. If a TikTok or Meta post has gone viral and shows your brand identity in a good light, don’t hesitate to repurpose that content in a newsletter. Plenty of people aren’t on social media and therefore may have missed it, but it’s no big deal if they see it more than once.
- Repurpose positive publicity that you want to share with your list. If your brand was in the news for something you’re proud of, shout yourself out in your newsletter. The media outlet already did the work—all you have to do is quote them and provide context.
3. Yes, you can promote your products and services in a newsletter
An email newsletter can be very different from a sales-driven marketing email, or it can be pretty similar to one. While your email newsletter content should be varied enough that your subscribers aren’t just opening one advertisement after another, it’s certainly a good idea to feature your products and services here and there in your newsletter.
If you want to send an email newsletter that features products but doesn’t feel like a sales pitch, get creative. And have fun. Here are some ways to make a newsletter feel different from a regular email marketing campaign:
- Highlight the story of how a product came into existence. If you have a product with a memorable origin story, consider telling it in a newsletter. People like learning where their products came from. Downplay the sales aspect by including fewer call-to-action (CTA) buttons.
- Group your products in a new, clever, or even seasonal way. Consider grouping your products together in a way that’s relevant to the send date or the season. You could even bring in an outside partner to curate their favorite products of yours, like jewelry brand Catbird does in this email.
Image source: Catbird
- Get way off topic. If you’ve got the budget and bandwidth, get your team to write—and illustrate—a story that’s engaging. Menswear company Birddogs sent this zany email a few days before Father’s Day. It’s got an attention-grabbing subject line: “Is Elon Musk A Good Dad For Naming His Kid X AE A-12?”The preview text reads: “Wait till you see what his brother Ernie did.” The email then tells a (totally fake) story about what Musk’s (also fake) brother named his (imaginary) kids. It’s entertaining and just wacky enough to hold a reader’s attention. The CTA is simple: “Get your Dad some new pants.”It sits at the very bottom, but it stands out visually.
Image source: Birddogs
4. Email newsletters: another opportunity to drive traffic to your website
Email newsletters are simply a great way to drive traffic to your website. And considering how costly customer acquisition is, nurturing your newsletter subscribers is a great way to retain customers.
Ben Frutos, director of lifecycle marketing at Klaviyo, points out that “recipients who open and click a newsletter are already showing engagement. That, combined with site traffic information and page views gives you an abundant amount of information to personalize further for even deeper, more meaningful engagement.”
Common ways to drive folks from your newsletter to your website include:
- Place CTA buttons strategically throughout your newsletter, connecting your products to the story you’re telling or the education you’re providing.
- Invite readers to “learn more” by visiting your website. Once you’ve hooked your readers using compelling content, lead them to your product landing pages by continuing the customer journey there.
- Advertise price reductions in your newsletter. Of course, one of the best ways to get someone to a product page is by reducing the price. Your newsletter is as good a place as any other channel to advertise a sale.
Frutos says “Newsletters should work in harmony with your marketing program. Once your site is optimized for retention and engagement, it’s a win-win.”
5. Oh yeah, email newsletter marketing is free
No matter what kind of content you include in your email newsletter, it’s always (essentially) free.
OK, it’s not totally free—your team puts hours, energy, and expertise into creating emails. But you don’t have to pay to promote them like you would on the web or social, and you don’t have to worry that an ever-changing algorithm will bury your message.
According to Litmus, for every dollar a company spends on email newsletters, they can expect to see about $36 in return.
How to create an email newsletter
Once you determine what kind of newsletter you want to send and who you want to send it to, it’s time to create it. Consider using the following steps as a blueprint:
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 them to:
- Click through to read your blog post?
- Purchase a product?
- Sign up for an event?
Whatever the action is, it should be intuitive and easy for your readers to do it.
When creating a newsletter, design the structure and content of your newsletter around that main goal.
If your main goal is to drive the reader to your website, for example, place the 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 help you achieve different goals. Design your newsletter template to align with yours.
The easier it is for your readers to consume your content and take your desired action, the better.
Whatever email marketing service you’re using to send your newsletter should have newsletter templates available. You may want to create newsletters with seasonal designs that are also the right fit for your specific messaging.
Image source: Klaviyo
3. Outline your email newsletter
Once you’ve settled on your newsletter template, sketch an outline as a starting point. This is the general frame of your newsletter that you fill in with content, images, and headings.
Outlining your newsletter helps you build a cohesive theme and decide what pieces of content are relevant to include.
Here are some prompts to help get your email newsletter outline started:
- If somebody only has time to scan this—not read it all the way through—what do I want them to take away from it?
- What images can I use to convey the feeling I want the reader to experience?
- What links do I need to include? What’s the best way to give the reader context?
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 improves the readability of your content.
If you’re sending a newsletter with recaps of your most recent blog posts, write a 1-sentence synopsis that teases the benefit someone would get from reading the post. This intrigues the reader to click through and read the full article on your website.
Frutos adds, “Many people feel the newsletter has to contain a lot of content. Not true. As a conduit to drive traffic to your site, you need a catchy headline, succinct and provoking body copy, and a strong CTA.”
5. Write—or finalize—your newsletter headlines
Writing compelling, eye-catching headlines encourages 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 skim newsletters, the more your headlines pique your subscribers’ interest, the better.
Strong headlines encourage readers to read further into your newsletter and ultimately get them to click through to your site.
Some quick tips to optimize your headlines:
- Tease the value the subscriber will get out of reading your email.
- Spark their curiosity.
- Be specific.
- If you’re using a number, put it at the beginning of the headline.
- Create a sense of urgency.
You can also use AI-generated subject lines that are based on best practices so you can move faster.
CBD brand Joggy sends this email newsletter with attention-grabbing headlines. The binary of “myth” vs. “truth” naturally sparks curiosity and the placement of the words gives readers a clear roadmap to follow the content easily.
Image source: Joggy
6. Add images to your newsletter
Images are the first thing a reader notices as they’re skimming your newsletter, so they should complement your newsletter copy—or, in some cases, do the communicating for you.
If you’re looking for free, high-quality stock images to use, unsplash.com is a great site that provides royalty-free photos.
Don’t let images be an afterthought. They can do a lot in email newsletters, including:
- Showcase your products.
- Demonstrate the value your products deliver in a way that may be difficult for words to express. The cliché can be true: A picture is worth a thousand words.
- Drive the reader toward the CTA button.
- Set a mood the reader can associate with your brand.
Shoe brand Atoms uses this minimalist newsletter design to invoke a sophisticated, artsy feel in their email newsletter.
Image source: Atoms
And herbal water brand Aura Bora sends this silly, memorable image of a baby armadillo double-fisting their water, with one simple CTA button.
It’s certainly not traditional, but it’s attention-grabbing.
Image source: Aura Bora
7. Personalize your email newsletter
This tactic depends largely on the data you have available about your audience. If you only have your subscribers’ email addresses, consider basing your personalization on their previous web activity.
For example, what pages and products have they looked at on your website? Consider including a dynamic section in your newsletter that displays blog posts related to your audience’s interests or previously viewed products.
If you’re in the beginning stages of collecting data to better personalize your email newsletter, consider sending quizzes or surveys that collect zero-party data—subscriber birthdays, product preferences, etc.
If you’re further along in your segmentation journey, you can personalize according to demographic data, such as age or income, and behavioral data, like which content they’ve consumed and how they got to your website in the first place.
Elcee Vargas, lead product marketing manager at Klaviyo, says: “A newsletter is a great way to keep your brand top-of-mind for customers, but it needs to be a part of a more thoughtful and cohesive sending strategy, especially when you scale. The ultimate goal is higher conversion with less sends.”
Vargas suggests tailoring your newsletter sends based on what will be most interesting to your subscribers, for example:
- Send product announcements by category interest
- Sale announcements by product preference
- Holiday newsletters based on recent engagement
Complementing this with automated, behavior-triggered flows like a birthday discount, price drop alert, and cart and browse abandonment emails that are always-on can help drive conversion rates while staying top-of-mind.
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 email 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 maximizes your open rates.
And don’t forget about the preview text, which tends to give you more space to get your message across.
9. Preview your newsletter on multiple devices and in multiple email providers
With the wide variety of devices and email browsers that people use, it’s important to test your newsletter to make sure it looks right on many screen sizes and in many email providers. 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 email send times—and everything else you need to keep in mind as you schedule your email newsletter.
When is the best time to send a newsletter?
So now you know how to create newsletters, but when should you send them out?
Deciding when to send your newsletter is both an art and a science. We would love to present a neat and tidy day and time for you to send yours, but the real answer is: It depends.
In general, think through:
- How long it takes to read your newsletter
- If you want subscribers to read it all in one sitting or if it’s OK to be read bit by bit, with the reader taking breaks
- If there’s anything in the newsletter that you want readers to consume at a certain time of day, or on a certain day
Here are some other factors to consider as you test 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 tend to 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 to your B2C marketing strategy.
For B2C, think through the following questions:
- What time does my audience (or this particular segment) usually check their email? Is there a time we already know earns us high open rates?
- What’s the action I want this audience to take?
- What time is it where they are, and what’s happening?
Understanding time zones
Do most of your subscribers live in the same time zone? If not, sending your email at 1:00 p.m. ET means your subscribers in China, for example, receive your email at 1:00 a.m. their time—and that’s not a time when most people typically open their emails.
Email service providers like Klaviyo offer smart sending, which allows you to schedule your newsletter to send based on your recipient’s time zone.
But it’s also important to exercise your imagination—and common sense—when considering time zones. What’s the content of a particular newsletter, and what time would it best be read?
Something that may seem to have nothing to do with your newsletter—like daylight savings time—could shift how your reader interacts with a particular message. Imagine you sell blackout curtains and you typically get high open rates right around sundown. Make sure you account for daylight savings time when setting your send time.
Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to micro-manage your send times.
Understanding days of the week
There’s been a ton of research on which days are the best days to send your emails. Statista reports that, as of Q422, the best day to send emails is Tuesday, followed closely by Wednesday.
Friday and Saturday tend to be the worst days, as many people may check out for the week and experience email fatigue by that point.
But, like timing, choosing the day your email goes out has more to do with your products, how customers use them, and what you know about your subscribers.
The best way to figure out which day works best for your specific audience is to experiment.
Template for all devices
Take a look at your existing campaigns. What type of device do most of your subscribers use to open your emails?
Use that information to inform future sends. You might notice that people who mostly use a mobile device to read their emails are more likely to do so during the evening than people who mostly use a desktop computer, for example.
Don’t forget holidays
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 idea 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.
7 winning email newsletter examples—plus why they work
Here are 7 common types of newsletters to consider:
1. Email newsletter with a 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.
Olive oil brand Graza sends this long, colorful newsletter with no less than 11 CTA buttons, each linking off to a separate recipe in a blog. An email like this is an excellent way to deliver value to your subscribers.
Image source: Graza
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. Email newsletter that highlights your subscription-based offerings
If your product is subscription based, use your newsletter as an opportunity to feature the benefits of the subscription by:
- Offering a deal on a new subscription
- Breaking down the savings that come along with a subscription
- Featuring user-generated content (UGC) about a subscription
Australian toilet paper brand Who Gives A Crap sends this cheeky (pun intended) newsletter guide to “bathroom guest etiquette” with on-brand, silly, entertaining copy before the main message: A subscription helps you be a prepared host. It even includes a CTA up top for the folks who might not be up for the fun read.
Image source: Who Gives A Crap
3. Email newsletter with event highlights
Event newsletters are great for getting the word out about events you’re participating in, sponsoring, or hosting.
If your company will be present at location-based events, tell your subscribers to build community and brand awareness.
Farmer Jones Farm sends this email newsletter campaign out with a simple and easy-to-read list of upcoming events.
Image source: Farmer Jones Farm
4. New product-focused email newsletters
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 to the products, or coupons and discounts.
Fashion brand FARM Rio sends this newsletter featuring new styles all in the same color palette: blue and white. With a single CTA button at the bottom, it feels more like news than sales.
Image source: FARM Rio
5. Company news—or celebration—email newsletters
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 toward achieving it.
Giving your subscribers 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.
Clothing brand Faherty sent this newsletter to announce a clothing reselling program. With direct, informative copy and clear instruction on how to participate, the email provides value to the subscriber while also encouraging them to do the environment a small favor.
Image source: Faherty
The same brand sent this email out around their 10-year anniversary. It strikes a humble, grateful note, including personal photos and sincere copy.
Image source: Faherty
A newsletter like this might not drive a ton of sales, but it’s likely to encourage brand loyalty and foster a deeper connection between your brand and your subscribers.
6. Collaboration announcements
A newsletter is a great way to announce a collaboration between your brand and another. Watch how skincare brand KORA Organics and Sakara detail the partnership between their two like-minded companies in this email, which features co-branded images, beautiful, on-brand product shots, and an explanation of why the partnership makes sense.
A newsletter like this one may serve to not only introduce your brand to a new—but primed—audience, but also reinforce the values your people may share with your brand. In this case, those values include transparency in ingredients and a plant-based approach.
Separate tiles and CTA buttons for each brand’s products are likely to enhance the chances of conversion.
7. Email newsletter that acknowledges national events
A newsletter is a great place to tell your subscribers how you’re participating in national holidays, events, or activism.
Apparel brand HOMAGE sends this newsletter leading up to Juneteenth. It provides education and highlights local partners along with the work they’re doing. Only at the very bottom, with an understated CTA button, is there any link to a page where subscribers can actually shop.
Image source: HOMAGE
6 features to look for when choosing an email newsletter service
Now that you’re clear on the why, the how, and the when, the only remaining question is: Who?
As in, who will be your email newsletter service provider?
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:
1. Sign-up forms
If you’re just getting started or if you’re looking to grow your list, a built-in form tool for displaying 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 .CSV files) and allows you to easily gather additional information about your subscribers so you can further segment your emails.
2. Built-in opt outs for your email newsletter
Because of laws like CAN-SPAM and GDPR, brands have to make it easy to opt out of receiving marketing emails—even newsletters. There is more to those laws, but for the purposes of this guide, let’s focus on opting out.
Most decent email newsletter service providers have templates that include a built-in opt-out button. If you go with one that doesn’t, make sure you include them on your own.
3. Easy list management tools—including segmentation
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 an email marketing tool that allows you to dynamically create lists based on the data you have about your subscribers, which automatically adds or removes subscribers to the list who meet certain criteria.
Segmentation is important in building trust with your subscribers because it’s what enables you to deeply personalize your content—which makes your subscribers feel seen.
4. Newsletter send time automation
While most email service providers 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.
Welcome series are the first interaction your brand has with someone via email, most commonly after they sign up for your email newsletter.
It’s a good idea to try both tactics and A/B test to see what leads to the most engagement.
5. 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, email templates can be a huge timesaver.
Many email marketing softwares 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.
6. Testing tools for your email newsletter so you can track metrics
Testing your emails can help you maximize your subscribers’ engagement—and return on investment (ROI)—of each email. Tools like Klaviyo have built-in A/B testing functionality that allows you to test everything from subject lines to images to body content.
Test subject lines to determine which types of emails earn the most opens or 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.
Create a community with your email newsletter
Email marketing has such a high ROI because you’re communicating directly with an audience that actually wants to read what you’re sending.
Because you own your email list and control the timing and messaging of your emails, no other communication medium—including social media and paid advertising—allows you to reach your audience quite as effectively as email.
Email newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with and engage your audience regularly. Use them to create a community where your subscribers can read up on topics that build interest and trust in your brand.
Ready to create your own newsletter? [CTA] Try Klaviyo
Email newsletter FAQs
What is BCC in email newsletters?
BCC is an email feature that means “blind carbon copy.” When you input an email address in the BCC field of a message, other recipients can’t view those addresses. When sending email newsletters, it’s best to use the BCC field for security and privacy.
How do I grow my newsletter subscriber list?
Some ways to grow your newsletter subscriber list are:
- Sign-up forms on your homepage, during check-out, and in confirmation emails
- Brand partnerships
- Referral marketing
- Interactive quizzes
How do I measure the effectiveness of my email newsletter?
The best way to measure the effectiveness of your email newsletter is to choose a newsletter service provider that gives you access to analytics like open rates, click rates, and more. This data will help you refine your email newsletters for better results.