The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Newsletter for Your Marketing Strategy

It’s December, and if you’re like most business leaders, you’re putting the finishing touches on your 2023 marketing plan. Along with your strategies for email marketing, sales, advertising, and web presence don’t forget about the incredible reach and frequency power of newsletters.

Newsletter campaigns are an effective method for reaching both new and loyal audiences. They’re great for sharing news and special offers. They’re great for nurturing prospects through your funnel and converting. But they do require some effort in design, content, and strategy. Today, we’ll share everything (and we mean everything) you need to know about developing a newsletter marketing strategy.

Debunking a Few Newsletter Myths, FirstFree Image by kalhh from Pixabay

If you have reservations about curating a newsletter campaign for your business, maybe because you don’t believe they’re entirely effective, you’re not entirely wrong. Most newsletters DO fail. But it’s not because of what you might think. Newsletters done wrong or haphazardly without certain elements will end up in the “junk” folder. However, if you follow results-driven methods for choosing a channel, design, content, and engagement, you can see sales and conversions almost immediately.

Here are a few other newsletter myths to avoid subscribing to as you consider implementing one for your marketing strategy:

I don’t read newsletters I get; why would customers read one I send?

Don’t base any marketing strategy on your personal preferences. You’re not your target audience. And newsletters are incredible for generating buzz, engaging prospects, nurturing leads, and building brand loyalty if executed correctly.

I need a team of designers and content writers to put together a newsletter every week or month.

Today’s newsletter and email platforms are delightfully user-friendly in formatting and design. Solopreneurs use them all the time. As for content, you’re likely already creating great content for your website, your company blog, or your thought-leadership initiatives, all of which make for great newsletter content.

People won’t subscribe to my newsletter.

When promoted the right way, your newsletter can gain traction among broad ranges of target audiences. And a few social media posts and some web effort can have customers subscribing in no time. PS: If your newsletter is exciting, offering something relevant and innovative, they’ll even pay for a newsletter.

Why So Many Brands Are Turning to Newsletter Campaigns

Ok, so maybe newsletters are worth considering. But if you’re still not convinced, here are some stats that might blow your mind. Brands globally are turning to newsletters as a core mechanism for sales, outreach, and loyalty.

  • 77% of consumers PREFER to receive permission-based promotional messaging in their inbox, making it higher than any other channel.
  • 90% of SMBs reported email marketing to be the biggest driver of both customer acquisition and retention.
  • The average ROI for emailed campaigns is roughly $40 for every $1 invested (that’s 4,000%!)

Newsletters allow you to reach your prospects’ inboxes with weekly, monthly, or quarterly frequency. Because they’re permission-based, you won’t contend with spam. And over time, you can build a valuable database of customers who WANT to hear from you. Imagine the possibilities!

There Are Two Pillar Types of Newsletters

Yes, there are infinite design and layout possibilities for any newsletter. But cutting to the chase, there are only two pillar formats that work well.

  • Curated, Shorter Newsletters: Compress tons of info into digestible bites and helpful details.
  • Thought-Leadership, Long-Form Newsletters: Explore innovative topics in a dense format offering insights, analysis, and unique perspectives.

Any other “type” of newsletter is really just going to be hit-or-miss, as a “hey, subscribe and see what I send you every month!” The most effective newsletters, and we’re talking about those with hundreds and thousands of loyal subscribers, don’t feel like newsletters. Instead, they feel and are received as “niche news outlets,” offering the latest information and solving today’s problems.

To know which newsletter format is best for your brand and a complement to your existing marketing strategy, let’s dive into the benefits of each.

Curated, Shorter Newsletters Look Like This

These newsletter types are all about saving time – yours and your subscribers’. Think fast-moving, newsy topics or a rundown of “tips and tricks” or “five-minute insights.” If you’re in a financial advisory niche, for example, you might create a short newsletter that summarizes the latest Wall Street Journal news and stock market news into brief bullet points your subscribers can skim through quickly. You could save them the time and hassle of scrolling through their feeds for an hour or two every week by capturing the relevant details in an easy-to-read and graphically stimulating newsletter in their inbox.

Consider your industry and look to offer all kinds of helpful newsy tidbits, including:

  • Politics
  • Sports
  • Pop Culture
  • Trends
  • Things to Do
  • Community Announcements

Essentially, this type of newsletter says, subscribe now, and we’ll save you the time and trouble of researching the “latest news” yourself. These shorter newsletters are typically free to subscribers, too, since you’re essentially re-purposing existing information elsewhere. But you can still monetize these with ads or affiliates. And these shorter, curated emails are great for promoting sales and discounts using links to other areas of your online presence.

Thought-Leadership, Long-Form Newsletters Look Like This

These newsletters, while longer in format, tend to be very niche specific. When you’re offering thought leadership, it’s best to avoid broad topics or generalities and stick to one core category or topic. From there, you can offer more in-depth perspectives and insights, positioning yourself as a master of that space and leader in that conversation. These newsletters should inspire subscribers to want to spend quality time with them. They won’t want to skim this one because there’s likely going to be a big idea or ah-ha moment embedded in there. You’ll have to spend some time curating these since they require original thinking. The goal is to attract “smart” readers who want to walk away from your newsletter having learned something entirely new. As an example, let’s say you’re in the business of remodeling bathrooms. Your thought-leadership newsletter could bring all the innovative new fixtures, anticipated design trends, and uniquely specific details about toilets, tubs, and sinks.

Consider potential niche exploration in your industry and look for:

  • Analysis
  • History
  • Psychology
  • Trends and Predictions
  • Innovation
  • Technology
  • Strategies

These newsletter types often get printed out and saved for review later or used as references and resources. Your audience will subscribe because there will always be detailed explanations and relevant insights they want to read.

Newsletter Groundwork: Strategy and Schedule

Once you’ve landed on the newsletter type you want to launch, the next step involves two prongs – content creation and platform distribution. Each are separate operations, but you’ll need to develop both at the same time. Don’t you dare try and launch a newsletter with a traditional email platform like Gmail. You’ll need to explore the newsletter-sending platforms and choose software that best suits your needs and budget.

Consider these elements of any newsletter service:

  • Look for a drag-and-drop ease of use
  • Look for sign-up form options
  • Look for automations you’ll actually use
  • Look for real-time analytics (open and read rates)

Choose your subject matter and make sure it’s interesting to your target audience of potential subscribers. From there, you can explore frequency. How often you send your newsletter means deciphering how often you can create compelling content they’ll find useful. Avoid sending too often as well as too infrequently. Choose a schedule you can stick to, and that will be that “sweet spot” for recipients. And then stick to that installment schedule religiously.

Content and Design Matters

When it comes to assembling an aesthetically pleasing newsletter with graphics and engaging content, don’t be afraid to start with templates. You can customize colors and logos, taglines, and layouts, so your newsletter feels like an authentic extension of your brand. Many of the platform software providers include helpful tutorials for creating base templates to use. Just beware that everything about your newsletter design should be in line with your existing brand voice, your proven marketing strategy, and your chosen newsletter type. Consistency is key here, just as it is with every other aspect of your marketing.

The content you share might be written specifically for each newsletter section. Or you might include links to existing (and recently posted) blogs. If you have case studies to share or other company news, they make for great newsletter topics, as well. For best results, invest the time you need to carve out a content calendar and brief with guidelines for writing and sharing. Work ahead of schedule, so you have content banked. Don’t get in the habit of writing or building your newsletter every week it’s intended to be sent. Instead, give yourself a head start and have two or more weeks of newsletters put together in advance. You can always do last-minute updates to certain topics, should your news or industry topic require.

Here are some other tips for newsletter content and design:

  • Be mindful and leverage holidays for appropriately themed newsletters.
  • Avoid over-salesy content unless you’re retail-based promoting deals and sales.
  • Make sure any images you use are free use or appropriately cited.
  • Every newsletter should be useful, timely, newsworthy, and customized.
  • Great subject lines are paramount.
  • Hooks and CTAs are also essential.
  • Make sure your newsletter is mobile-friendly.

Attracting New Subscribers

Building a substantial subscriber list might take some time. And don’t ever buy email lists online. They’re ineffective, often non-vetted, and result in spam distinctions that could hinder your ability to send newsletters. Instead, start by using all your available marketing channels to promote the launch of your newsletter, providing quick and easy links for subscribers to opt in effortlessly. Create a marketing “newsletter launch” campaign with prominent “subscribe now” CTAs using:

  • Your company website
  • Company social media channels
  • Internal teams
  • Existing client emails
  • Company vendor emails

You can also explore using incentives and contests to generate excitement about becoming a subscriber. Just remember to make it easy for anyone to subscribe.

While you create opt-in opportunities, don’t forget to add regulatory opt-out options, as well. It’s mission-critical that you understand the laws regarding CAN-SPAM, regulated globally. Getting consent from subscribers is required. And you could face steep fines and email privilege revocation if you don’t provide an “unsubscribe” option with every newsletter. The good news is your chosen email platform will likely have built-in tools to ensure you meet these requirements before hitting send.

Testing and Optimizing

The final leg in the newsletter launch race involves testing and optimizing. What you develop as your initial strategy, including content, sending frequency, and design might require changing over time. The only way to know how effective your newsletter is will require ongoing testing and improvement.

A/B Testing: 

Change up your subject lines across a few weeks of newsletter issues to compare open and read rates. But you can also change other minor details, like images, emoji use, topic formatting, and content types. Find the equation of elements that drives the most results and rework your templates accordingly.

Reviewing the Analytics:

Create a workflow that includes consistent review of the metrics and analytics. Certain topics might generate better results than others, guiding you to know what content to create more often.

Preview Before Sending:

Before sending any email, preview, and test-send to yourself or your staff. Make sure all content is free of grammatical errors, and the newsletter displays well on mobile devices.

Email Subscriber List Maintenance:

Take care of your subscriber list and make time to review your recipients. Email addresses change all the time, and you can clean up your list.

Armed with everything you need to develop and launch a company newsletter in 2023, you can be confident in getting started. Keep this guide handy as you work through your newsletter strategy. And remember, Ghost Blog Writers is here to help you with all the content you might need, from tips and tricks to more in-depth, thought-leadership pieces that resonate with your prospects. Contact our team, and we’ll help ensure you get results with every newsletter you send next year!

 

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