A Beginners Guide to Starting an E-Newsletter

If you haven’t sent out one marketing e-mail, starting with an e-mail newsletter might be a stress-free way to ease into e-mail marketing.  E-mail newsletters are very popular for businesses and organizations because they are permission-based marketing. They offer multi-formats with many types of information in one neat package.

There are many benefits for an e-newsletter: cost effective, timely, measureable—the list goes on. For a business, it is a way to connect to your existing clients and potential clients on a personal level. E-newsletters can provide valuable information all while giving them a gentle reminder of who you are. Here are some quick steps on getting started.

Step 1: Determine your goal(s)

This is the first and most important step in starting an e-mail newsletter. The rest of the steps will be dependent on your goals.

  • Establish your target audience. Ask yourself, “Who will be recipients of my newsletter?”  Will you be segmenting your lists at all? Segmenting your lists can give your business a way to tailor your information for a specific audience. A clothing store, for example, could have two different newsletters—one for females and one for males. The structure of the newsletter would be the same, however the content would be tailored to the specific audience. Potentially, there could be articles on the latest fashion trends, go-to accessories, and promotions – but males would see different content from the females.
  • Consider your call-to-action. What do you want your newsletter to do? Encourage participation at events? Increase awareness of new products? Drive traffic to your website?
  • Establish a schedule. How frequently should you send a newsletter? Newsletters can be sent weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. Typically recipients have no issues with receiving e-mails at these frequencies—as long as the content remains relevant to them.

Step 2: Decide on content

What should you include in your newsletter? As undoubtedly shown in previous blog posts, content is king. Typically newsletters contain informational content. Newsletters can include recent events, stories, opinions, calendars of events, photos or even an FAQ section. While it is great to share content to your social media accounts and website, it is important to keep some content for the newsletter only. Subscribers love curated content, so remember to preserve the content exclusiveness for your newsletter. Give your readers a reason to look forward to it.

Create a small team of contributors from your company or organization to provide content. Also, set up a schedule for how often your contributors need to submit content.

  • As with all marketing copy, organize your content so it is scannable (just like this blog post).
  • Keep your content clear and concise.
  • Use headlines, subheads, bulleted items, etc.
  • Include buttons to share the content on social media.
  • Always have an editor proofread the content.

Step 3: Design your newsletter

Many bulk e-mail software platforms offer canned templates which is a great way to get started quickly and inexpensively. Another option is to have a marketing design firm create a customize newsletter template that coincides perfectly with your marketing guidelines. There are many ways to get an e-mail newsletter designed, but cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better. Here are some guidelines regarding the design:

  • You’ll want your e-mail to match your current marketing materials and guidelines. You’ll want users to be able to identify your brand when they receive your newsletter.
  • Designate space for persistent links such as the table of contents, link to your website, contact information and social media links. 
  • Keep each issue of your newsletter consistent from one to the next.

Step 4: Develop your newsletter

Unless you have some HTML experience, this step might be the most challenging—and might be best left to the pros. I won’t go into the nuts and the bolts of coding an HTML e-mail in this blog post (that topic would be better suited for a new blog post), but here are some things to keep in mind.

  • As with all e-mail communications, make sure your newsletter is mobile-friendly.
  • Have a peer review to verify all links are working properly.
  • Test your newsletter in multiple e-mail clients to ensure consistent rendering results.
  • Always include a way for users to opt-out of future newsletters (this is a must-have).

Step 5: Deploy your newsletter

Now we are ready to send! Right before you deploy your newsletter, you’ll want to scrub out any opt-outs from your e-mail list. Here are a few guidelines to sending e-mail newsletters:

  • Use best practices for your subject line.
  • Offer a teaser in the subject line.
  • Use the same From Name and From E-mail Address each time you send an issue.

Step 6: Decode your E-mail Stats

After each send, make sure to schedule time to review the e-mail metrics.

  • Review the opens, clicks, and unsubscribes stats to optimize future sends.
  • Remove any hard bounces from your list.
  • Decide if your newsletter is meeting your newsletter goal(s). Review the goals that you established in step 1.

After sending one or two newsletters, you may want to archive them on your website. This is an excellent way for potential recipients to “taste-test” your newsletter before subscribing.

These are just the basics of starting an e-mail newsletter, but hopefully I’ve given you enough information to get started. Be creative with the content. Have fun with the design. Respond to your readers’ feedback. Regardless of the type of business, e-newsletters will help your business excel. With utilizing these best practices and guidelines, e-mail newsletters can be a powerful tool in your marketing toolbox. Good luck and happy e-mailing!

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