So You Want To Start a Newsletter
It might seem like every creator you follow has a newsletter right now — and for a good reason! Sending recurring, themed email newsletters is a great way to keep your audience up-to-date and engaged with your content. Emails have always been a successful form of digital marketing. According to a study by VentureBeat, it’s actually the one marketing form that sees the highest return on investment. This is because it’s fairly inexpensive to run email marketing campaigns, and there’s a guarantee that your audience will receive every email you send. When you post on social media, there’s no telling how many of your followers the algorithm will actually show your content to. For this reason, many people like to supplement their digital and social presence with a newsletter. So…should you? Signs point to yes. But just like everything else with your brand, you need to be strategic about it. Here are some of the important factors you should think about before firing up your email and starting a newsletter.
Who Are Your Readers?
Creating a newsletter is a great idea, but it’s better if you have people you can actually send it to. So where do you start? If you’ve sent any email campaigns in the past, you can use those recipients in your newsletter audience as well. Similarly, if your website collects emails for purchases or contact forms, take those addresses and add them to your newsletter audience. If you haven’t collected any emails, don’t worry — there are plenty of ways to still get them. If you have an active social media following, you can direct your followers to a link in your bio where they can sign up for the newsletter, or post a story asking your followers to respond with their emails. If most of your audience comes through your website, you can add a pop-up box directing people to sign up for your newsletter. Some brands offer a discount code to those who sign up for the newsletter. Consider your audience’s and brand’s needs to decide what kind of perks you can offer that might encourage someone to sign up.
Once you have built your email list, you should dig a little deeper into the people who are actually behind these addresses. Depending on the size of your initial contact list, you might be able to manually investigate the demographics of your audience. If not, platforms such as MailChimp offer tools that can help you break down your audience by these important characteristics. Keeping track of this data is important in order to make sure your content is in line with those who are receiving it. Once you know who your readers are, you’re able to look more closely at their needs so you know how to better tailor your newsletter.
What Are Your Goals?
When you open up your inbox, chances are you’re bombarded by hundreds of emails that you probably won’t have time to get around to reading. You can safely assume the same is true for most people on your contact list. So how do you get your newsletter to stand apart from the noise rather than adding to it? Simple – take a look at your audience and their needs. What kind of content do they need to read, and how does that fit in with your brand? Maybe you’re a skincare business. Do they want to be entertained? Informed? Inspired? It’s unlikely this audience wants to receive a daily newsletter about the latest global news. Instead, give them something they could actively use, like tips and tricks on how to refresh and rejuvenate their skin. This will keep them wanting to keep clicking on your emails each week. It’s also helpful to have a topic that is tied very closely to your brand so you’re able to refer readers to your product or service. In the skincare brand example, you can plug your latest product that specifically targets whichever tip you offered that week.
When thinking about the purpose of your newsletter, you’ll also want to decide how often you want to send your content out. Some brands might send out a once-a-month update on their latest products or services; other newsletters provide daily news or articles. Not only do you need to take into consideration how often your audience wants to receive these emails, but also think about how much content you have to put out. You don’t want to commit to a daily newsletter campaign unless it really makes sense for your audience; otherwise, you’ll probably run out of content quickly, and your audience might think of you as spam and not engage as much as if you were sending out less frequent emails.
When developing your newsletter, you should also think about what steps you want your audience to take after reading the newsletter. Do you want them to share it with their friends or on social media? Maybe you want them to click on your latest blog post, or purchase a certain product. Identify these goals and keep track of the metrics, such as conversions or click rates, so you know if your strategy is effective. If it isn’t, don’t be afraid to pivot. There’s a lot of trial and error that comes with branding, and that’s OK. Your audience is ever-evolving, and you should be, too!
Is Your Content Relevant?
Now that you know who you’re emailing and what your goals are, you have to actually come up with the content to send. Though you might have a lot of knowledge about your niche, it’s still a good idea to do additional research to find ideas. When you Google your topic, what comes up? This can give you a hint about what most people are interested in learning about. Doing keyword research is another good way to hone in on what topics are related to your brand. Knowing what aspects of your niche are most relevant to an audience can be helpful when developing content that resonates with them.
Even if you don’t offer many products or services, there are still lots of newsletter topics that can be generated. Think about explaining different parts of your process, highlighting community members who engage with your brand, or featuring key players in the industry. Yes, the kind of content you produce should align with your audience’s needs, but there are still a lot of ways you can present this information to them.
You want your content to be short enough that people can easily digest it when glancing through their inbox. If you have more to say, you can include a snippet of a blog post and link to it. Keep your copy focused on promoting clicks, whether it be on your website, your social media, or wherever else you want your audience going. Good images can help break up text-heavy content. Include some behind-the-scenes product shots or even stock photos to help promote your message while keeping readers interested.
It’s also a good idea to have several newsletters written and ready to go, just in case you fall behind one week and don’t have time to create one. Some platforms have the option to schedule your emails, which can save you time in the long run. Before sending, it’s always a good idea to send a test email to yourself (and your other team members, too!) so you can check that all of your links work and that there are no typos you might have missed while building it. View your newsletter on both your computer and mobile phone — some templates can get messed up from one medium to the next, and you want to ensure your audience is getting the same quality no matter what device they’re using to access their inbox.
Where should you host your newsletter?
You can certainly type out your email blast and manually add all of your contacts in Gmail, but that might not always be the most efficient way to manage your newsletter. Luckily, there are plenty of platforms to choose from if you want something to help step up your newsletter game.
Mailchimp is one of the most popular platforms for hosting e-newsletters. It offers tons of helpful features for managing your newsletter campaigns, including audience management, insights, and send time optimization. Tools like engagement reports are helpful because they can help you break down how many people are actually opening and clicking on different links in your email, similarly to how insights work on social media. Mailchimp also lets you send out surveys to gauge your audience’s feedback, which can be really helpful when first starting out or when you’re thinking about pivoting your content.
HubSpot is another platform that can host email newsletters. With HubSpot, you can use any of their many pre-made templates, or take some creative liberty and customize them yourself. HubSpot also allows you to do A/B testing, so you can send two different versions of your newsletter to half of your audience and see which performs better.
Though these platforms are easy to use for beginners and experts alike, there can still be a lot of questions you have when developing your newsletter. From helping with content ideas to designing the perfect layout and even putting your newsletter plans in motion, reach out to us! At Creative Juice, our strategists and designers are happy to work with you to create a highly effective newsletter campaign that helps your brand come to life. 🍑