How to Create a Newsletter, Step by Step
Plan, create, and implement newsletter campaigns with measurable results.
Why Bother Creating a Newsletter?
These days, simply having a social media presence is not enough when it comes to promoting and growing your business. Why? Because it doesn’t ensure that every customer or audience member will see your message. First, everyone is not using the same tech to stay connected. Some use Smartphones, others prefer a desktop environment, while nearly everyone has text messaging capabilities. Second, another thing to consider is social media platforms - do your customers primarily use Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, something else, or none at all?
More than likely, there is no one answer that fits all. For example, some customers will use the TikTok app on a Smartphone, while others prefer Facebook to access Facebook on the web on their Smartphone. Since you want your communications to be visible to all your customers, regardless of their preferred tech environment or platform, it’s crucial to use an approach that captures the attention of all those on your contact list. Enter the newsletter, which can be both simple, effective, and easily deployed across channels and platforms.
After all, newsletters provide you with the perfect way to communicate with your customers and constituents. You can use a newsletter to include things like new-location announcements, promote your latest blog post, or tease an upcoming sale. And because a newsletter comes in email format, you can convey more than you would in a short text or social media post.
But if you’re stuck wondering how to actually create a newsletter, don’t worry; we have you covered. In our “How to Create a Newsletter, Step by Step” guide to follow, we include all the information you need to build a strong newsletter from scratch.
Choose a Newsletter Deployment Tool
So, you’re probably wondering, what is the best way to create and send out a newsletter? The first step is to pick a newsletter delivery or deployment tool. Knowing which tool is right for you comes down to personal preference, so trying previewing or even testing out multiple tools is a good first step.
There are countless email marketing tools available that you can explore for free or through a free trial period. Some of our favorite newsletter deployment tool providers include:
- Hubspot Email Marketing
- Constant Contact
Pro tip, try out a newsletter tool that offers a free subscription and one that offers a free trial period to get a feel for the different platforms and functionalities available. Keep in mind that free subscriptions will likely include less features, flexibility, and scalability than the paid versions. If you find that the free versions are not robust enough for your organization’s needs, a free-trial for a paid subscription may be the next place to look to find those additional capabilities.
Another avenue to explore is whether your current email provider also offers newsletter tools. For example, MS Outlook and Gmail let you create newsletters, but you may need to download apps and add-ons to access more advanced features.
Consolidate Your Data
Next, it doesn’t matter what you have to say if you have no one to say it to! If you don’t have a contact list, or perhaps you have one but it is shorter than you’d like, you’ll need to spend time gathering subscribers (or organizing the contact information in the database you already have on hand). Fortunately, many newsletter platforms have features that let you easily import your contact list from another location.
If you’re looking to grow your mailing/contact list, consider:
- In-person sign-up forms: Encourage customers to add their contact info to your mailing list when they visit your location.
- Virtual sign-up forms: Add sign-up forms and links to your website and social media accounts.
- SMS marketing: Use SMS messages to request email addresses from your customers who have already opted in to receive texts.
- Discounts: Offer exclusive discounts and offers to those who join your newsletter mailing list.
Determine Your Content Strategy
Despite how incredibly flexible a newsletter can be, there is more to it than just slapping some random news and updates together. Before thinking about what you want to say, consider why you’re saying it.
Having a clear idea of what you hope to achieve with your newsletter is crucial to helping it take shape. Ask yourself questions like, “what is the goal of this newsletter?” and, “what do I hope to achieve?” Knowing the answers to these questions will help you determine what you should include in a newsletter, and what to leave out.
For example, maybe your main goal is getting more people to know about what makes your business different from your competitors. In this case, your newsletter may revolve around explaining what your business does differently, including pricing packages, raw materials, exceptional service, or all of the above. Alternatively, your goal may be to simply keep your business top-of-mind and include content that spotlights your employees, addresses your mission statement, goes behind the scenes on your production line, or encourages your readers to follow your blog. Or perhaps your goal is to drum up interest in a new product or service offering. In this case, you might decide you want to use your newsletter to announce your new product or service, what it entails, highlight associated industry trends, and provide exclusive discount codes to all newsletter subscribers.
Make a Schedule
Once you have some specific goals in mind, you can begin mapping out your content. This involves deciding not only what you want to include in each newsletter, but when you want to deploy each installment.
Let’s say you have the goal of promoting your new product line or service offering. When you look at the calendar, you notice that the following month includes a holiday that would be the prime time to encourage your customers to purchase your new product or offering to take advantage of the associated holiday sales.
With that in mind, you can start assembling newsletter content with the goal of using the upcoming holiday to promote your new offering. Of course, you’ll want your contacts to know about the upcoming sales in advance, so they can plan accordingly. For example, if you were planning a Cyber Monday sale that takes place the first Monday in December, you would include cyber sale teasers in your October newsletter.
Scheduling out your newsletter topics in advance is a great way to stay organized and keep aligned with your goals. It also prevents you from scrambling to produce new content and ideas each month. What’s more, when you have your topics spread out, you’ll have an easier time pivoting should you decide you want to add in new messaging.
Draft Your Content
With your content strategy in place and scheduled out, it’s time to start writing! Keep in mind that the best-performing newsletters are roughly 20 lines or 200 words, total. So, what does that mean for you? Less is more. Shoot for a short and sweet message that gets your point across.
Remember, your recipients will likely skim your newsletter. To ensure your main ideas are noticed, even by a skimming eye, be sure to include a strong CTA (call to action). A CTA is a directive that encourages readers to take a specific, desired action. CTAs vary depending on business type or purpose, but some general CTA examples include: Learn More, Subscribe, Sign Up, and Try It For Free. If you are a retailer you may find CTAs like, “Buy Now, Shop, Order Now,” to be go-to directives. “Donate, Commit, or Volunteer,” are common CTAs for nonprofits.
Another strategy to help get your important points noticed is to design your newsletter in a way that makes it easy for readers to focus on your main points (while skimming, of Choosecourse). One way to make sure your newsletter looks professional, and guides the eye to the most important places, is to utilize a template.
Choose & Personalize Your Template
So, where do you find a newsletter template? And how do you choose which template is right for your newsletter? Newsletter tools provide you with the template options, which you can usually customize, adding or removing elements as you please. As you look through various template options, start to imagine where your content might fit in and how you might like to personalize it to better suit your newsletter.
The specific newsletter tool you go with will determine how much flexibility you have when personalizing your template. Most newsletter tools allow you to experiment with uploading placeholder content, trying out different templates, and changing the font size or altering the text color. That said, typically, the more personalization or customization you require, the more likely you may have to move to a paid subscription.
Add Your Content
Once you’ve selected a template that you want to work with, it’s time to start adding in your content - both words and images. The good news is, newsletter tools make it really easy to enter in and upload your content regardless of your skill level.
Your template will clearly indicate where your text or copy should go, as well as indicate where images will be placed once uploaded or selected. When you’re ready to add in text, simply cut and paste it into the body field in your template.
After dropping your copy into the template, be sure to add a catchy subject line. Keep in mind, this is the first message your readers will see, so you’ll want to grab their attention. The more interesting the subject line, the more likely they’ll open your newsletter.
For example, “This Valentine’s Day Just Got Even Sweeter,” will likely attract more attention than, “Our February Newsletter.” In the same way, “Dive into Our Summer Sales this July,” is a bit more enticing than, “Read our July Newsletter.”
Ready to click send? Not so fast. Before sending out your newsletter, do some test runs first. Send a draft to yourself and a few employees or friends to see how it would appear from a customer’s perspective.
- Did the newsletter arrive in your inbox?
- Did the format look the way you expected?
- How does it display on your mobile phone vs. a desktop environment?
- Does it look different when viewed on a Gmail account vs. an Outlook account?
- Are there any typos?
- Do all your hyperlinks work?
Doing test runs allows you to tweak your copy or template to ensure it looks exactly the way you imagined and correct any errors. After all, the last thing you’ll want to do is send an unfinished or unpolished copy to your customers.
After ensuring your newsletter is exactly how you pictured it, you’re all set to send out your very first newsletter.
Add Your Contacts & Send Your Newsletter
It’s go-time! As we mentioned above, your newsletter platform should let you conveniently upload your contact list. From here, add your contacts to the contact field, review your content one last time, and then go ahead and click “send.”
Promote Your Newsletter
Just because you clicked “send” on your newsletter doesn’t mean you can sit back and expect it to be viewed by every subscriber on your list. You will want to promote it to make sure it does not get lost in an overcrowded inbox.
For starters, use your social media accounts to let customers know that your newsletter just hit their inboxes. Alternatively, you could post the day before it is sent, letting customers know your newsletter is arriving tomorrow. For instance, “Our latest newsletter is hot off the press! Check your inbox tomorrow morning for all the latest and greatest news.”
Another way to leverage your small business SMS marketing strategy is by sending out an SMS message announcing your latest newsletter. You already know your SMS recipients are interested in your business, but did they know about your newsletter? What’s more, you can use your SMS platform to track these campaigns and determine which messaging your customers are responding to the best.
Monitor & Track It
Once you deploy your newsletter and promote it, the next step is to use your newsletter platform to monitor and track its performance. This is a very important and often overlooked step. Every audience is different, and the only true way to know for sure how your newsletter is performing is to watch how your subscribers are responding. If you’ve promoted the newsletter to new subscribers, you will also want to see how many new sign ups you’ve gained. Depending on the specific tool you’re using, you’ll likely have access to specific performance data, such as open rates, click-through rates, and delivery rates.
One thing to consider when evaluating performance is reviewing how often your CTAs resulted in an action. If there is not much of a response to your CTAs, start to look at how you can make them more enticing. Perhaps one of the more important things to consider is, can you improve your subject line? Subject line success is fairly easy to evaluate. If you have healthy open rates, it’s safe to assume the subject line has done its job.
Some newsletter platforms will even let you do A/B testing, often referred to as a drip campaign, so you can further experiment with different elements, namely subject lines, to see what content performs best. Once you get an idea of what works and what doesn’t, you can begin building an even stronger strategy for your next newsletter deployment.
Now that you know how to create a newsletter, you’re all set to put it into practice!
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Here at EZ Texting, we make it easier than ever to get eyes on your content. Sign up for a free trial with us to discover how your business can harness the power of SMS marketing today.