Are you considering starting a monthly newsletter in 2021? An email newsletter is one of the best ways to engage with your audience, keep their attention, and convert them into paying customers.
Marketing stats from HubSpot show that 78% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months, and 31% of B2B marketers say email newsletters are the best way to nurture leads. Those stats can be promising, but you’ll need to create a newsletter that’s worth opening and reading.
Here’s our guide to creating a newsletter that your audience will love.
Set a clear goal
You don’t want to create a newsletter just ‘cause. A great newsletter is an investment and needs to have a clear goal. Starting with a goal in mind will help you define the direction of your newsletter and help you track your success.
Your goal might be to get 100 people to start a free trial or increase your sales by 15%. Knowing the purpose of your newsletter will also help you get more subscribers. If your goal is to get people to try your product, give them an idea of what they’ll receive when they sign up. That can be the benefits of your products, a discount, or updates about your new releases.
It’s best to keep it simple. Trying to accomplish too much with your newsletter will likely cause it to accomplish less. Have one clear call to action: people read your email, so what? There needs to be a next step for them to take, whether that’s placing an order or signing up for your upcoming webinar.
Next, start identifying your newsletter key performance indicators (KPIs). What metrics will you use to judge the success of your newsletter? There are three leading indicators of success: open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate. Check out our recent post about setting smart marketing goals and learn how to understand your KPIs.
Create a content balance
Your newsletter should have a balance of interesting content, humor, and sales. Even though people don’t like being sold to, they are expecting some advertising and sales. That doesn’t mean you should be pushing them to buy from you every chance you get.
If you’re going to sell something, make sure you give your readers a discount. Nearly every magazine and newspaper has coupons. Make sure the coupon is limited to a date range to add some urgency. Even if they don’t use the coupon, they’ll be looking for them in the future.
You should also look for opportunities to add a personal touch, useful info, and some humor. If you can connect with people personally and make them laugh, they’ll look forward to getting your emails.
Make it look nice
When your readers open your email, it should look professional and appealing. Newsletter that are unorganized, sloppy, or boring can be off-putting and hurt your ROIs. Email marketing platforms like MailChimp and HubSpot can help you quickly create a great looking newsletter.
There are a few simple keys to keep in mind when you’re designing your newsletter.
- Use 1-2 fonts: Using more than two different fonts will make your newsletter look sloppy and difficult to read. Use one font for headlines and one for body text. You should also use the same family of fonts and avoid changing them every week.
- Use videos and photos to break up text: If people open your email and see a long text block, they aren’t likely to keep reading. We recommend keeping your emails under XX words. Use short 1-2 sentence paragraphs and break up text with an image, video, or gif.
- Highlight your call to action: You can and should add color and fun to your newsletter, but don’t overwhelm your readers. Use bold text and bright colors sparingly to highlight the most important info and your call to action button.
Writing a great subject line
When people have hundreds or thousands of emails in their inbox, the subject line is vital. People want to quickly scroll through their inbox and filter out what’s important and what’s not. You can send your newsletter to 10,000 people, but the subject line needs to inspire them to open it.
Here are a few tips for writing attention-grabbing subject lines:
- Keep it short: Remember, you only have a few seconds to get your initial message across.
- Tell them what’s in the email: Don’t make false promises, but give them a reason to open the email. This is also an excellent opportunity to use numbers.
- Use some urgency: Too much urgency (SALE SALE SALE!!!) can get marked as spam, but you want people to open your email as soon as they see it in their inbox.
- Make it personal: Small details, like using the reader’s name and paying attention to your reader’s needs, will keep your subject lines on target.
- Pay attention to other headlines: If you need some inspiration, look in your inbox. Which headlines inspire you to read more? What language makes you move other emails straight to your trash bin.
Run A/B testing
Once your newsletter is being sent to people, you’ll need to continue improving it. As your audience grows, you’ll want your newsletter to be as effective as possible. A/B testing, or split testing, will help you identify opportunities for improvement. Running split tests will give you real data so you know what’s working and what’s not.
How do you run A/B testing? Start by identifying what you want to improve. For your newsletter, you should try to improve your open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate. Certain tests will affect different aspects of your newsletter. For example, your subject line, sending time and day can affect your open rate, but none of the newsletter’s content will.
If your goal is to improve your open rate from 10% to 15%, decide what to test. You’ll only want to test two different emails. For example, send the same email at two different times or on two different days. Or you can send two emails at the same time with two different headlines. Niel Patel offers some helpful tips to run effective A/B testing on your marketing emails on his blog.
It’s important to remember that your newsletter won’t start perfect. It will take time and effort to build your audience and dial in your style, copy, and schedule.
If you need help deciding how your newsletter will fit into your 2021 marketing budget, use our free Marketing Budget Calculator.