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Marketing - 8 min READ

How to create an email newsletter that drives results

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Author photo: Carrie Shaw

Carrie Shaw

Chief Marketing Officer

There’s a common perception among marketers that consumers don’t want to receive promotional emails, but research indicates that they're actually open to receiving these messages.

It turns out that 60% of people sign up for brand emails with the expectation of seeing promotional messages in their inbox.

Your audience wants to connect with you, which is why you need to learn how to create a newsletter people will want to read.

Newsletters are a great way to keep your customers and subscribers “in the loop” with your brand, while driving engagement and building stronger relationships. When done right, an email newsletter strategy can ultimately translate into higher customer loyalty and more revenue.

In fact, 59% of B2B marketers said that email is their most effective revenue-generating marketing channel.

While there’s no “right” way to approach a newsletter, you should always have a key goal in mind: adding real value to your subscribers—without getting spammy or intrusive.

So how exactly do you do that?

Glad you asked. Let’s explore:

What is an email newsletter?

An email newsletter is a regular communication that both individuals and companies can send via email to a list of subscribers. These communications can cover virtually any topic, like:

  • Relevant tips and advice the subscriber might find useful
  • The company’s product or service updates
  • Industry and company news and events
  • Curated content from the sender or other companies

The most common cadences for sending an email newsletter are weekly, bi-monthly, and monthly—though technically you can choose to send yours as frequently as you want.

5 tips for creating an effective email newsletter

Here’s a simple, step-by-step approach for how to create a newsletter and use it to bolster your brand.

1. Set your goals.

Before you start writing the newsletter’s content, make sure you have clear goals and a good understanding of how this newsletter fits into your broader email marketing strategy.

Keep in mind that your goals should be something beyond just getting people to open your email.

To set specific goals, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is my target audience and what are their needs?
  • Why am I sending this newsletter? Do I want to increase sales? Send traffic to my website? Build better customer relationships?
  • What value do I intend to offer through my newsletter? (Why should people subscribe?)

Come up with concrete answers for these questions so your newsletter doesn’t end up as “junk” in your subscribers’ inboxes.

As an example, one of your goals can be to increase brand advocacy. Email newsletters can motivate recipients to help spread the word about your company by including content like quizzes, contests, and other user-generated assets that encourage them to take action.

Other examples of good email newsletter goals include reinforcing awareness of your brand, educating readers about your company, and deepening audience engagement.

Image for post Become an email master.

Become an email master.

Learn how to write sales emails that get readers to take action with this series of email tips delivered straight to your inbox.

2. Choose your content.

After you’ve set specific goals for your newsletter, it’s time to create content for it.

While you can link to blogs and images from outside sources, crafting unique content will give your audience a reason to look forward to your newsletter and your newsletter only: they can’t get this information any other way.

If you have a content-rich company website or blog, this is a great place to start. You can preview and link to your blog posts, videos, webinars and other content assets in your newsletter (like we do here at Copper):

Calls-to-action (CTAs) are also a critical component of email newsletters. Whether you’re using a button or a text link, make sure your CTA stands out so that subscribers don’t miss it.

Also, consider placing a call-to-action asking your reader to click, read, or share alongside each piece of content you put in your newsletter.

3. Pick a template.

Creating a template from scratch can be really time-consuming, so a timesaver I’d recommend is to choose a pre-designed template. Email marketing tools like Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign offer dozens of beautiful templates that you can use as a head start when building an email newsletter.

Your template doesn’t have to be bold or flashy—even templates with soft colors and minimal text can look great. Here’s an example:

Just make sure the final design that goes out to the recipients is easy to scan, read, and engage with (i.e. it’s easy to see where to click and go next).

You can check this by sending the newsletter to your personal email address first. Open the newsletter and go through it before sending it to everyone else to make sure everything looks right.

4. Add a personal touch.

If possible, mention the recipient by name in your newsletter, such as in the greeting (for example, “Hi, Siena!”).

You can also experiment by placing their name in the subject line. Most email marketing solutions will allow you to set parameters that automatically insert the recipient’s name in this field.

If you’re using a CRM that integrates with Gmail, like Copper does, it may even be possible to pull the recipient’s name from your Gmail contacts and auto-fill your email:

Both of these tactics increase the likelihood that the recipient will pay greater attention to your email.

5. Make it legally compliant

There are a few legal rules you need to comply with when sending newsletters to subscribers and customers.

The most important of these is the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM ACT, which says that you should have a footer in your newsletter with your business address and a simple way for people to unsubscribe from your emails.

Fortunately, most of today’s email marketing solutions allow you to add an unsubscribe link in the footer section of your newsletter. Below is an example of what this looks like:

Newsletter tools to streamline the process

While creating a newsletter can feel daunting, there are plenty of awesome tools and integrations that can do most of the heavy lifting for you.

Let’s look at a few of the top options.

Mailchimp is a full-service email marketing solution that can help you design, build, send, and measure the performance of your newsletter campaigns.

In addition to having beautiful templates and easy drag-and-drop functionality, the software offers tagging and segmenting functionality. This allows you to send targeted newsletters to groups of your subscribers that have certain behaviors or interests in common.

As an added bonus, Mailchimp integrates with Copper, which means that all the prospects and customers you store in Copper’s CRM database can be added directly to Mailchimp as you’re creating your email and marketing campaigns:

Pro-tip: If you don’t have the budget or need for a full-service Mailchimp account, check out Mailchimp’s free service TinyLetter.

This is a cloud-based email marketing service built for small and medium-sized companies. It comes with an intuitive theme editor that can help you create beautiful newsletters via HTML or drag-and-drop navigation:

FreshMail’s range of features also include industry-specific templates to accelerate the newsletter creation process. Moreover, you can use it to track emails in real-time, which enables you to see the performance of your campaign.

For super customized messaging, its autoresponder option lets you reply to customers based on how they interact with your messages.

For example, you can define the number of days/weeks/months after subscription that your recipient will receive the newsletter.

This is yet another powerful email marketing solution that you can use to create beautiful email newsletters.

It comes with an email designer tool that lets you create newsletters on the fly, even if you don’t have any technical expertise. That means you can focus on the most critical aspect of your newsletter – its content:

For laser-focused targeting, use ConvertKit’s “segments” and “tags” capability to group your subscribers and customers, and then send them highly personalized content to increase engagement and conversions.

And you can keep track of how those subscribers and customers react by taking a quick look at your ConvertKit dashboard.

How to measure your newsletter’s success

When it comes to measuring the success of your newsletter campaigns, there are a few key metrics that can clue you in.

Bounce rate

This is the percentage of newsletters that weren’t received by your subscribers. There are two types of bounces: hard and soft.

Hard bounces indicate a recipient’s address is incorrect or invalid, and soft bounces indicate a temporary issue like a server going down or a subscriber’s mailbox being full.

Campaign Monitor’s research estimates that the average bounce rate across all industries is just over 1%.

Open rate

Out of the subscribers who received your newsletters, how many of them opened it?

Low open rates can be a clue that something is off, like sub-par subject lines or a subscriber list that isn’t interested in your brand. The average open rate is about 17% across different industries.

Click-through rate

Out of the subscribers who opened your newsletter, how many of them clicked a link or call to action (CTA) in the newsletter body?

A low click-through rate can signal that you need to step up your content game to create more engaging and relevant newsletters.

It’s estimated that about 3% is the average click-through rate:

Unsubscribe rate

How many subscribers are unsubscribing from your email list?

The average unsubscribe rate is about 0.2%, so if yours is consistently higher, you might want to re-evaluate your subscriber list and content strategy. Perhaps the content upgrade you sent to subscribers didn’t live up to their expectations. In this case, you can experiment with different lead magnets (ebooks, templates, etc.) to see if anyone of them reduces your unsubscribe rate.

Pro-tip: Make sure you’re not spamming people who didn’t sign up for your emails! According to the European Union’s GDPR laws, it’s illegal to send emails to EU citizens who didn’t voluntarily opt in to your list—even if your business isn’t based in Europe. You could face a hefty fine, so don’t risk it.

Examples of great newsletters

Let’s look at a few strong newsletter examples and what makes them so great.

1. Product updates: Loom

Screen and video recording software Loom sends strong product update emails to its subscribers.

This email introduces four new features, giving a short-and-sweet description of each. The company makes great use of visuals by including a screenshot that illustrates and gives context to each feature.

At the bottom, the email teases upcoming features and links users to its Public Roadmap to stay tuned.

The email’s subject line is like a neat bow that ties it all together—it’s succinct, descriptive, and fun. It even includes a couple of playful emojis to show the brand’s personality.

Subject line: [Loom Update] We have new features for you 😉🥓

2. Seasonal newsletter: AO

UK-based online retailer AO sent a beautiful email to kick off the summer season. The subject line asks an intriguing (and relatable) question: “Staycation or vacation - which are you?”

The email goes on to recommend products in its webstore based on this summer relaxation theme.

Going on vacation? Make sure you have a portable wireless speaker to jam out with your loved ones. Prefer to stay at home? Enhance your at-home theater experience with a new TV.

AO drives the newsletter home with bright summer colors, clever headlines, and high-quality images.

Subject line: Staycation or vacation - which are you?

3. Monthly digest: Campaign Monitor

Email marketing and automation platform Campaign Monitor sends a monthly digest email that does a great job of catering to the needs and interests of its subscribers.

In this September issue, the company showcases its blog post on tips to build an engaged email list, as well as announcing an upcoming webinar on the state of email personalization.

Since all of its subscribers are looking to send awesome emails, this is right up their alley.

The subject line is descriptive, telling recipients exactly what they’ll find inside.

Subject line: September News: 7 Tips to Build an Engaged Email List + The State of Email Personalization

Go forth and create engaging email newsletters

If you aren’t sending email newsletters to your prospects and leads, now’s the time to start.

Email is an incredibly effective medium when you take the time to really understand what your audience needs and wants.

It may take some trial and error, but eventually you’ll find the sweet spot where your audience is ready and eager to hear what you have to say, which will in turn generate more loyalty and revenue for your business.

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