Have you ever sent newsletters that were never opened or clicked? If your answer is yes, don't think it's not worth the effort. I know it makes you feel bad but don't beat yourself up.

Writing good email newsletters that people read is not that easy. Everyone is so busy and has a short attention span.

The beginning of the journey is about learning what your recipients like and how they react. If you are consistent enough with your strategy, you will succeed. I promise.

Before you start handling personal data, get your head around the data protection regulations in your country and email SPAM laws as well.

The European Parliament approved the General Data Protection Regulation that protects the citizens' data. It says that people's consent must be given to the use of their personal data. Remember, the enforcement date is May 2018, make sure you are up to date.

Tell your future subscribers what they are subscribing for and how often they will hear about you. Ask them if they want to receive your promotional emails in the future as well. This way you can make sure everyone will be happy.

The Newsletter Anatomy

This great infographic by Hoot Design shows the example of the elements in the typical newsletter layout.

Elements of newsletter

  • Place your logo on the top of your newsletter so the recipients can associate it with you.

  • Use headings to separate the different parts as you would do in your articles.

  • Use dividers, they help the reader break down and digest the content.

  • Use images to give a fresh look at your email but make sure they fit your brand. In this example, the writer used emojis as well which are great to add some emotion to your written piece. Emojis might not be appropriate for all every campaign though, for example, it might not work for a B2B company.

  • Your newsletter must be branded. The color, the typeface, the font type and weight, the tone of voice should align with your brand.

  • Let your readers react to your content and let them share it on social media. Insert your social icons at the bottom of your newsletter.

  • Visuals are also important because most people click on them. Make sure you link the images to the URLs you want to send your readers to. Also, keep the design of your newsletter professional. Check out this great article on newsletter email design to learn more about newsletter design best practice.

  • Whatever CTAs you use they must be easy to understand and click. Have one major Call To Action that helps you achieve your goal and have some more auxiliary CTAs such as social sharing or email forwarding icons.

  • Don't forget the required information in the footer of the newsletter. As most of the SPAM laws require double opt-in when people subscribe, you also have to place the unsubscribe link in your email for the worst scenario.

  • Eventually, check grammar and readability. You can use Grammarly to check your spelling and grammar and Hamingway App to evaluate the readability level. Aim to reach at least Grade 8 but the lower is the better in most cases, except if you have a special audience like lawyers, doctors or similarly well-trained people.

How to Create an Email Newsletter in 13 Steps

In order to create effective email newsletters, you need great content which is tailored to your audience. This newsletter content could be either entertaining, educating, convincing or pursuing.

The secret of successful email marketing is segmenting your audience. Even if you have a great article but it's totally irrelevant to your recipients, you are wasting time. Make sure you send the right message to the right person.

Here are some simple steps you can take to write a good email newsletter:

Step 1: Define the goal of your newsletters.

What do you want to achieve with your newsletters? What is the goal of your marketing efforts? Answering these questions is crucial.

  • Do you want the recipients to buy something?
  • Do you want to build trust with them?
  • Is your purpose to educate your readers?

Your email newsletter content must align with these goals. If you want to increase your sales, send irresistible offers. If you want to establish expertise in your field, send quality articles.

Step 2: Use editorial newsletter calendar

Why not steal this great idea from the content editors? It's a great tool to organize your emails by content, date, topic and so on.

The basic of good newsletter strategy is planning. Brainstorm with your colleagues, ask them what new features or events are coming up, what can be newsworthy. Plan your newsletters for the next 2-3 months so you'll know about every event or product update that's coming up or promotions you can include in your emails.

This strategy will prevent any last-minute disaster, you can make your email newsletters in a comfortable way and prevent sending random, unstructured emails.

Step 3: Dedicate each email to one topic.

It can be confusing if there are more different things going on in one email. Gather the same topics in one email and refer to them in the subject line.

Once you have a topic in mind create a framework you can use. Create a spreadsheet where you can track your campaigns and how they performed.

Create columns for the most important information.

  • Date
  • Topic
  • Assignee
  • Status
  • Subject line
  • Link to the email
  • Goal
  • Persona
  • List
  • Link to image
  • Landing page
  • A/B testing variants
  • Result of A/B testing

Step 4: Craft catchy subject lines

Great newsletter starts with a great subject line. We receive so many emails each day, they overwhelm us. For this reason, we ignore the ones that aren't important.

Your task is to make people believe that your email is important and relevant to them.

Use the 4U method when you write the copy of your title.

  • urgent
  • unique
  • ultra-specific
  • useful

This technique is really powerful if you use it right. Get the audience think that they must open your email otherwise they miss out. Even if the recipient has the intention to go back to your email after seeing your subject lines, they won't. So, let them understand they have to act upon ASAP.

Be unique and stand out from the rest to grab the attention of your audience. Also, make sure your message is clear and provides value.

Keep your subject lines under 50 characters so the recipients can read the whole sentences. Email clients show a different number of characters, if you know what devices your readers use, you can use this information to optimize your subject line.

Don't use capital letters or spammy words such as Free or Discount otherwise, you end up in the recipients' junk folders.

Use the good, old A/B testing to see what subject lines trigger higher open rate and what content is appealing enough to drive traffic to your homepage.

Email newsletter subject line length by email client: Gmail, Apple Mail 8, etc.

Step 5: Create a beautiful newsletter template

It's a clever step to create a nice email template that you can use over and over. It will save time for you and ensure that the layout will be consistent.

There are many built-in templates you can use but you can also create a guideline for this purpose to create customized and branded layout with an email builder.

If you want to jump right into building your newsletter template, come and join our early testers, and choose from our template collection free of charge.

 

Step 6: Start writing your newsletter

First of all, you need to decide whether you want to send Plain text or HTML emails.

If you choose the former, you are able to have a more personal conversation. On the other hand, HTML emails allow you to be creative. They trigger higher conversion rate and can be tracked. You can analyze different metrics such us Click Through Rate or Conversion Rate.

You can also opt for a minimal, text-like HTML email which has a very basic design but still takes advantage of the tracking capabilities HTML emails offer.

Start with greeting your readers by their first name, if it's possible.

Depending on your email newsletter content you can use different starting lines:

  • We hope this finds you well
  • I hope you are well
  • Here is our weekly newsletter to keep you in the loop

Step 7: Share valuable content

Well, newsletters are to communicate news. You need to make sure that the news you are going to share is valuable for your readers.

There are a few questions that help determine whether the content you want to share is indeed useful.

  • Timing:

    Did it happen recently?

  • Relevance:

    Is it something that your audience is interested
    in and finds useful?

  • Progress:

    Is it related to your product development?

Do not sell aggressively.

Keep the good old 90/10% ratio. People don't want to be sold nowadays. As soon they feel you push your product too hard they will unsubscribe.

10% of promotion is more than enough in newsletters.

Use simple language and short sentences

Folks don't have time to read complicated and long sentences. Make your content easy to digest.

Keep your sentences between 10-12 words and avoid passive voice. It makes your text difficult to read as well. And you are not writing an academic paper either. You are the friend of your readers, talk to them accordingly.

Don't use jargon, your audience might not understand it. Explain everything in detail, you are the expert and your readers wants to learn from you.

Step 8: Fit three to six items in one newsletter.

If you use images in your emails, you shouldn't schedule more than three posts. Make your newsletters short and sweet.

When it comes to content formats you can use your creativity:

  • Photos
  • Blog posts
  • Reviews
  • Contests
  • Company News
  • Webinars
  • Infographics
  • Offer

Don't forget to include links to your website and products. Nothing is more annoying than desperately clicking on a link that doesn't work. And you may lose some precious conversion as well.

Steps 9: Check your grammar.

Even if the copy of your email is short you need to doublecheck your grammar. We all make mistakes occasionally. Don't mess up your newsletter because of that.

Make sure every link works and points to the right URL. Doublecheck the email list you send the newsletters to. Remember, relevancy is key.

Steps 10: Send the newsletter but don't stop here.

Return in three days and analyze the data. If you find that some recipients didn't open your emails, resend them again with different subject lines.

Step 11: Track the metrics that help you reach your goals

That's when your marketing objectives come in. When you know what your KPI is, it's very easy to see if you managed to achieve what you wanted.

Write down the following metrics in a spreadsheet to see how your campaigns perform over time.

  • Total emails sent
  • Emails delivered
  • Total opens/Open rate
  • Total clicks/Click-through rate
  • Conversion

What was the goal? Increasing conversion? Then let's see how many people converted via email.

If the purpose of the campaign was to attract visitors to the website then check out your website analytics. Did the number of visitors grow? What about the bounce rate? Is it around 50%? That's great then!

Step 12: Test the best time to send your emails

According to CoSchedule, the best day to send emails are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

They also suggested that the best time was 10 am, 8 pm, 2 pm and 6 am.

best time to send email

There is no actual recipe for the right time of sending for your newsletters though. It depends on your audience. Find out what works for them.

Your newsletters must be distributed regularly because your audience expects them to arrive. If you promise that you will send emails on Tuesdays, do so. Otherwise, you won't seem trustworthy.

Experiment with different sending times to see when are your recipients the most active and likely to convert.

Step 13: Don't send newsletter too often nor once a year.

Make sure your audience doesn't forget you but don't annoy people either. Most of the time a daily newsletter would be too much.

I think there is one golden rule you can follow. Send newsletters when you have something to say. If you don't have the time and resources, don't put yourself into an unpleasant situation where you push yourself just for the sake of emailing.

You can send a weekly newsletter if you have a blog but don't want to sell.

I like bi-weekly newsletters because there is time to plan and produce the next article and tell people about news or product updates that happened over the last two weeks. Quantity instead of quality is always better.

That's why we only send bi-weekly newsletters to our audience. The emails we send always feature our most recent article mostly on email marketing or email design. Join our subscribers and get regular updates on our blog posts.

 

Monthly newsletters are probably the most convenient ones. They require fewer resources and not bothering at all. The perfect method for those companies who still sell primarily offline.

Check out your inbox for inspiration

The best tip I can give you is to go to your email inbox to see what kind of newsletters you've received.

Analyze them, decide which one you like and don't like. Try to figure out the reason and apply the best practice to your emails.

The Product Update Newsletter

new product newsletter example

Your users will love this one. You work hard to provide an excellent service for them and they are keen to know about every feature they can use.

In this email, SEMrush offers some help to guide their subscribers through the new features. This is great lead-nurturing here. Not pushy but friendly.

The Event Newsletter

sampe of event an email newsletter

If you regularly organize events you must learn the art of event invitation emails.

Include in your copy what will take place, when and where. You can also include a map with the direction.

In this case, the recipient can join the live news show by clicking on the Watch Line on Twitter button. The user experience is as seamless as it should be.

Don't forget to send event reminders to the RSVPs. It can happen that people forget about your events so it's always a good decision to give them a heads up.

The Blog Newsletter

the blog newsletterexample

Sharing your blog post by email is a great way to distribute your content. Although it's very likely that your recipients won't share your article, it doesn't mean that it's pointless to write.

People are normally not ready to buy. But if they need you, they will remember you thanks to your fantastic content.

Your articles show that you know your field, therefore your audience trust you. This is powerful when it comes to decision making.

The Announcement Newsletter

Announcement newsletter

Do you have any offer you want to share with the world? Be sure that you are straightforward and tell your recipients what your email is about. No need for sugarcoating.

Newsletter for E-commerce

sample of e-commerce email newsletter

In this example, Accessorize used an animated GIF and a really short teaser. Straight to the point. It's enough to see that there is a 3 For 2 promotion, you just click on the Shop Now button without thinking.

You can use Gifmaker to create great GIFs. Don't overdo them though. You can animate your very first image only otherwise your email would look weird.

Also, keep in mind that not every email client will play your fancy animated GIF. For example, Outlook 2007+ and Windows Phone 7 will only display the first frame of your image.

Countdown Timers

countdown newsletter example

This classic method is to create a sense of urgency. Make sure you include what the recipients have to do and when it should happen. That triggers them so they act.

The Seasonal Wishes

christmas email newsletter example

This Christmas email newsletter shows a good example how to thank your customers for choosing you. Send a little reminder that shows you care about them.

How can you grow the number of email subscribers?

There are different ways how you can get email addresses of your site's visitors. Here are some of the ways that can help you:

  • Create content upgrades tailored to your pages. We found that the most effective way to grow a high-quality email list.

  • Create a site-wide upgrade - in order to boost your email list you need to collect emails from almost every single page on your site in multiple ways. We've found that just "subscribe to our newsletter" message doesn't really work. Instead you should be giving something valuable to your reader in exchange for their email:

  • ebook

  • infographic

  • course

  • etc.

  • Add giveaway popup. According to the recent Sumo's case study, exit popup generated over 40,000+ subscribers in just 10 months.

  • You can find more actionable tips to grow your email list from this post.

What to do if someone never opens your newsletters?

You should let them go. I know, it's a painful process. It was so hard to get those leads and suddenly you lose them.

But you have one more last chance to act upon. Send your lead an email and ask them to confirm their subscription again.

If these inactive leads are still interested in, they will act and make sure they won't ignore you again. If this tactic doesn't work then it's time to say Goodbye. Your recipients won't be annoyed and you can also focus on people who want to engage with you.

Of course, if someone unsubscribes your list you have to wave to them as well. Don't send more emails to them. Ever.

What can you get out of your newsletter marketing efforts?

Newsletters are important parts of your communication strategy. You may think that emails are so 20th Century but I can assure you, they are still hot and convert well.

  • Increase conversion and ROI (Return On Investment)

  • Build trust with your audience

  • Drive attention to your offer

  • Be in your audience's life, be people's friend

  • Drive traffic to your website

  • Have one more owned channel you can control

You can win a lot by using the right email marketing strategy. It all starts with respecting your audience and sending them what they want.

Precise planning and quality content are as important as being reliable and sending newsletters at the right time.

Luckily, the outcome of your email marketing campaigns can be improved by analyzing the data and creating actionable insights.

Use these insights to write a successful email newsletter that delivers the value to your email subscribers.

Author
Roland Pokornyik

Roland Pokornyik

CEO / Co-founder @ Chamaileon.io & EDMdesigner.com