How to Start an Email Newsletter
Know that you need email marketing but not sure where to start? An email newsletter is a great way to get your content out there. Here’s how to begin.
Published: 07 Apr 2020
5 minutes read
So you’ve decided that you need to start email marketing, and that the best option is to start a newsletter. If you’re already blogging regularly, then a newsletter provides a unique opportunity to get your content out there, and make sure that your best content gets the focus it deserves. Getting started with a newsletter, however, is more complicated than you might think.
Here’s how to get going.
Segment your contacts
If you already have an existing database of contacts, then it’s likely that some of them will have already signed up for updates from your blog. See who is currently engaging with your content, and make sure to segment your contacts into lists. These might be based on who is already engaging, or segmented by area, job title, etc. Organising your contacts in this way means that you can accurately identify those who will be most likely to get value from your newsletter.
If you don’t have any subscribers already, it might be worth running a campaign to raise awareness of your newsletter. Try some email marketing to promote it, add a signup form to high performing pages, or share news about it on your social media platforms in order to create a bit of a buzz.
Narrow down your topics
If you’re starting a newsletter for your business, you should focus on one or two topics in your emails. Your newsletter should never be random, and your readers should have a certain expectation when they open emails from you. If you choose a lot of topics, you risk losing subscribers, as they might receive content that is irrelevant to them.
If you’re struggling to focus on specific subjects, then it might be worth plotting out several newsletters. Depending on your time and resources available, this could be a weekly or monthly email sent out to the relevant contacts.
Choose the perfect subject line
Your subject line is the first thing that people see when your email lands in their inbox. Make sure that it is engaging, and if possible, you should always try to use personalisation tokens. These are a way to use the contact’s name, company name, or other details in the subject or body of your email, and are vital for making your newsletter seem more personal.
Emails with a personalised subject line are 26% more likely to be opened, so it’s a tactic that you need to be using within your email marketing strategy. Try addressing the contact directly, or using their company name and a relevant stat to grab attention. It will raise the likelihood of them viewing your email!
Utilise imagery (when appropriate)
Images can be a great way to add a bit of colour to your emails. If you have an in-house photographer, or saved images that you can use, great! If not, it’s best to stick to stock images.
If you’re thinking of adding photography to your newsletter, it’s important to consider your persona. For a business that deals with more creative industries, imagery might be a great pull in your emails. In more practical industries like manufacturing or technology, less is more. Your readers are interested in your content - not how many images you can cram into one newsletter!
No one wants to read an email that is entirely generated by a machine. If you’re sending out a newsletter, really consider the resources and effort that you need to make sure that it is a good representation of your company, every time. Content should be personable, upbeat, and enjoyable. Use this opportunity to speak to your contacts as if they’re in front of you, and follow your company’s tone of voice in order to keep emails consistent.
Choose your software.
There are a variety of different tools that you can use to build an email marketing strategy. Popular ones include MailChimp, which started out as an email software but rapidly evolved into a full blown CRM system, and HubSpot, which offers some great email tools within its marketing suite. When you’re choosing your software, make sure that you are prioritising essential tools such as ability to personalise and decent analysis tools.
It’s also important to find a system with an emphasis on ease of use - your email newsletters should be easy to create, and then easy to replicate. We love HubSpot due to its drag-and-drop email builder, which makes creating email templates as easy as can be. Within HubSpot, you can also set up automatic emails to alert your subscriber list when a new post goes live. No need to schedule with this one - just create the template and set it live.
Use scheduling, and consider time zones.
Sending an email at 10am on a Monday might be a great idea - unless you haven’t factored in various time zones. Some tools will automatically send out your email in the time zone of your recipient, but if you don’t have this feature, then you need to consider it when scheduling up content.
Scheduling is also your best friend - if you’re sending a weekly, or even monthly newsletter, then you can prepare it in advance, leaving time for tweaking and testing. However, if you’re incorporating local or global news and articles into your newsletter (like we do in our weekly news shot), then you might want to work on it no earlier than the day before. If you schedule an email containing up-to-date news for a week’s time, then the news is old by the time it’s hit your contact’s inbox.
Analyse your work.
Every time an email goes out, keep an eye on how it is performing over the course of a few days. Ideally, keep a record of the performance of each email to see how it performs over time. You’re looking at open rate, click rate, and click-through rate, which are all important when understanding how your newsletter is appearing to readers. If the open rate is low, then the subject line may need work. If the click-through rate is low, then maybe your content isn’t good enough!
If you’re starting an email newsletter, then the setup is the easy part. To really get going, you need to make sure that you’re producing the right kind of content, and working to keep your subscriber list happy.