An email newsletter is a great way to regularly stay in touch with both your existing customers and your prospects. 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.
If your business is new or if you’re looking for additional ways to expand your brand’s reach, creating a regular newsletter is a great, low-cost way to expand your marketing efforts.
Read on to learn more about email newsletters, how to create them, the best time to send them, and tips to effectively build and manage them.
What is an email newsletter?
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.
With your email newsletters, you can let subscribers know about new products, offer tips, feature sales, share blog posts, and much more.
And much like its content, the frequency of your newsletter can vary. Many brands choose to send their email newsletters on a weekly or on a monthly basis.
Originally, brands used to print and mail their newsletters, but it’s much more common to see companies publish e-newsletters (email newsletters) now since they’re typically much faster and cheaper to both produce and deliver.
There are many different types of newsletters you can send, though no matter which format you choose, it’s important to set clear expectations about what kind of content your subscribers will receive when they sign up for your newsletter. For example, if you say you’ll deliver a weekly roundup of new blog posts, don’t send them a newsletter that has discount coupons and offers.
Here are five common types of newsletters you can consider for your brand:
- Blog Post Roundup. This type of newsletter is designed to keep your audience up-to-date with new content you publish on your blog, which could include tips on how to get the most out of the type of products that you sell or content that’s relevant to your audience. For example, BeardBrand wrote a great blog about men’s grooming called “How to Grow a Thick Beard Fast.” With this type of newsletter, you can plan to send it predefined intervals based on how frequently you create this type of content (i.e., weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.).
- Industry Information. In this type of newsletter, you can include news about your industry and help to position your company as a thought leader. This can include everything from new companies in your industry, new technologies people in your industry are using, mergers, and advice from industry experts. For example, the subscription box industry is growing rapidly. You could share news about your subscription-based offerings, updates on why people are choosing subscriptions over one-time purchases, tips to manage subscriptions, and more information related to the subscription box industry.
- Events. This type of newsletter is 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 these events to attend themselves or to get a behind-the-scenes look at what’s happening with your brand.
- New Products. Product-focused newsletters can be a great way to grow your revenue, especially for businesses that regularly release new products or make updates to existing products. These newsletters can include links to more information about the product, or coupons and discounts. You can even use them as a way to gauge interest in a new product before you spend too much time and money to bring it to market. For example, say 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 for sale, these customers will likely be interested in learning this product and your special offer.
- Company News. A newsletter focused on company news is exactly what it sounds like—a regular newsletter that shares updates about what’s happening with your company. For example, how is business going? What are some of the highlights of last month or last quarter? What’s your company mission and how are you making 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. Use this type of newsletter as an opportunity to grow your audience’s awareness of your brand and create a sense of community around your company.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the different types of newsletters you could send. Many brands often take a hybrid approach with their newsletters—they include content from several types of newsletters into one newsletter that works well for their brand. For example, some companies may choose to highlight information about their company and new products in the same newsletter.
How can you create a newsletter?
Once you determine what kind of newsletter you want to send and who you want to send it to, it’s time to start writing. Here are a few things to consider as you begin to create your newsletter:
- Start with your goal in mind: If a reader could take one thing away from your newsletter or if you want someone to take just one action, what would that 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, make it as easy as possible for your readers to take that action. Don’t assume everyone will read your entire newsletter. Most people will skim it first and then read a bit more when something catches their eye, so make sure you put your call-to-action (CTA) as close to the top of your newsletter as possible.
- Design your newsletter template: Since different styles of newsletters can help you achieve different goals, it’s important to design your newsletter template so you can help your readers most easily consume your content and take whatever action you’d like them to take. Since you’ll schedule your newsletter to send at regular intervals, make sure it has a consistent look and feel. If you always start with brand news followed by blog posts followed by product offerings, don’t switch it up the next week and lead with product offerings followed by brand news. People will come to expect similar content at the same locations of the newsletter as they’ve seen in previous weeks.
- Outline your newsletter: Next, determine what content you want to include in your newsletter and sketch out an outline. This will be the wireframe you’ll fill in with your content, images, and headings. You can write your preliminary headlines, but view these as a draft and then revisit them after you write the body copy for your newsletter to make sure they’re as relevant and strong as they can be.
- Write the body copy: With your outline and draft headlines in place, it’s time to write the body of your email newsletter. Try to find a good balance between text and imagery (more on that in a minute). For example, if you’re sending a newsletter with recaps of your most recent blog posts, don’t include the entire copy of the blog post in the email. Write a synopsis of the post that teases the main idea to intrigue the reader to click through and read the full article on your website.
- Write (or finalize) your headlines: Try to write compelling, eye-catching headlines that encourage your readers to browse the content within the section. If you wrote a draft of your headlines before your fleshed out the body copy, revisit them to make sure they’re still relevant and as clear and intriguing as they can possibly be. Since most people will skim your newsletter, your headlines are incredibly important when it comes to piquing your subscribers’ interest, encouraging them to read further into your newsletter, and ultimately getting them to click through to your site.
- Add images: The images should complement your newsletter, and catch the eye of the person who’s reading it. Your images are the very first thing a reader will notice as they skim your newsletter followed by headings and CTAs. 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.
- Add personalization where appropriate. This tactic will largely depend on what data you have about your audience. If you only have an email address for your subscribers, you may want to consider adding elements of personalization into your newsletter based 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 that cater to those interests or products similar to those they may have looked at or purchased previously.
- Write a subject line for your email: 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. Then, 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 (and consider using an A/B test, as well) to ensure you’re writing subject line copy that’ll maximize your open rates.
- Preview your newsletter on multiple devices and in email browsers. This is perhaps the most important step. 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 all types of devices and screen sizes. Your email template should be responsive so it displays properly and looks visually pleasing to both desktop and mobile users.
- Schedule your newsletter to send! Read on to learn more about how to determine the best time to send your newsletter to your subscribers.
When is the best time to send your newsletter?
The timing of when to send your newsletter is part art and part science. The real answer to the question of when you should send your newsletters is: it depends. Here are some factors to consider as you begin testing out the send time of your newsletters.
- B2B or 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 these audiences. 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 mostly sell to consumers (B2C), try sending your newsletters on evenings, weekends, or during typical commuting hours and see how your audience responds.
- Time zones. 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 timezone.
- 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 be checked out for the week and have email fatigue by that point. The best way to figure out which day will work best for your specific audience is to experiment.
- Devices: Take a look at your existing campaigns. What type of devices 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 evenings and nights than if you have a higher percentage of people who open your emails from a desktop computer.
- 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 impact 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 most important thing to do when it comes to finding the best time to send your email newsletters is to test your send times. Historically, this has been a fairly manual and time-consuming process, but Klaviyo recently released its smart send time optimization feature, which automatically finds the best time to send your emails based on your own data so there’s no manual work required.
When you find a time that works well to send your newsletter, focus on sending it at regular intervals and in a regular format.
For example, I’m subscribed to author Dan Pink’s bi-weekly newsletter. I can always expect his newsletter to land in my inbox every other Tuesday and the format is always the same. He includes one short video with an interesting idea or a tip to try, and also “one more thing” which usually ends up being a book or podcast recommendation. I know it won’t take me more than a few minutes to go through all of the content in this newsletter, so I’m keen to give it a read each time I receive it.
What to consider when choosing an email newsletter service?
You can use many newsletter services, but not all are created equal. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind when you’re choosing an email service provider:
- Built-in opt out processes. With 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. Also, 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: Some tools require you to upload a .CSV file of email addresses whenever you want to email a list, but others make it much simpler to manage your various lists and segments inside of the tool. You should 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.
- 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 email automation tools take things one step further and can trigger emails to go out based on certain actions a customer takes. For example, if somebody 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.
- 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 a template is crucial to allow 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: Testing your emails can help you to maximize your subscribers’ engagement (and ROI) of each email. Let’s say you were trying to figure out which of your two different email template designs will generate the most clicks. You could send these email campaigns separately at different times and determine which gets more clicks, but this introduces other variables that may skew the data. Many tools will have built in A/B testing functionality that allow you to test everything from subject lines to images to body content. If you’re testing subject lines, for example, you could determine the winner based on the email that has the most opens or the most clicks. In addition, you can also send 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.
- Forms: 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 uploading of .CSV files and allows you to easily gather additional information about your subscribers so you can further segment your emails.
Email marketing often has the highest return on investment (ROI) of any marketing channel since it provides a great way for you to communicate directly with your audience. No other communication medium, including social media or advertising, allows you to reach your audience as effectively as email. You own your email list and control the timing and content of the messaging, so email newsletters are a great way to regularly stay in touch with and engage your audience. Now that you know how to create a newsletter, start sending one regularly to grow your list, and continuously test and monitor your results.
Ready to create your newsletter? Try Klaviyo’s email newsletter template builder for free.
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