How to create a newsletter that captivates your audience

4 December 2023
12 minutes

In short

When it comes to consistently high-performing content marketing assets, newsletters are up there with the best of them. While Insta and co. offer valuable opportunities for promoting your brand to a wider audience and creating a visual splash, they simply can’t deliver the personalised experience that e-newsletters can. Plus, with the newsletter automation tools available today, the customer insights you gain make the effort completely worthwhile.

Yes, newsletters take a bit of time, especially when you’re getting started and are testing the water to find the content that will resonate with your readers. However, the rewards are significant and can transform your customer retention and loyalty strategy.

Read on to discover how to create a newsletter that your customers will love to receive.

a vector of a person sending newsletter to their subscribers

What is a newsletter and what is its purpose?

A newsletter is a carefully curated compilation of information, updates and insights delivered by brands to a targeted audience. Newsletters are one of the best forms of direct communication, enabling marketers to build trust and loyalty among subscribers. They are also a great sales tool and an excellent channel for cross-selling and up-selling.

Newsletters are most effective when sent regularly and, where possible, the content is personalised or adapted to suit specific interest groups. More on this later.

Why are newsletters important for businesses and customers?

When curated, created and distributed well, newsletters can be one of the most powerful sales and marketing tools for brands. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, 81% of B2B marketers say newsletters are their most used form of content marketing.

Few other content formats allow businesses to engage with large audience segments in such a direct way. By regularly sharing updates, promotions and valuable content, businesses can nurture customer relationships, build brand loyalty and establish credibility.

From a customer perspective, newsletters are a convenient way to stay informed. Gone are the days when brands send out an all-encompassing missive full of general info that may or not appeal to the reader. Thanks to advancements in tech and tools, segmenting, personalising and emailing newsletters is far more straightforward.

This means busy marketers can send curated content directly into subscribers’ inboxes, enhancing the customer experience, improving the sales journey and making recipients feel valued and understood.

Creating your own newsletter also helps you get a deep understanding of what makes your audience tick and how you can better serve them.

By monitoring opens, clicks, shares and forwards you can adapt your strategy to include more or less information on specific topics. You can address barriers to sale, adapt your product offers and generally ensure your content is aligned with customer expectations.

Infographic about the number of content marketers that use newsletters as part of their content marketing strategy

Preparation for creating a newsletter

So, how do I make a newsletter, we hear you ask? Well, like all the best sales and marketing activities, successful newsletter drafts begin with meticulous planning. Here are some tips to get the ball rolling.

1. Clarifying objectives and goals

Define clear objectives for your newsletter. Whether it’s driving website traffic, increasing sales, building a community or educating subscribers, having specific goals shapes your content strategy, messaging and design. It will also help you monitor your engagement more effectively.

2. Identifying the target audience

Understanding your audience’s demographics, interests and preferences is essential. Conduct surveys, analyse customer data and create detailed buyer personas to help you hone your newsletter strategy.

3. Gathering content and resources

Creating your first newsletter might seem overwhelming initially, but with some research and preparation, you can position yourself well to gauge your audience’s response effectively.

To start with, consider limiting your newsletter to a headline article and a few updates or offers; readers typically engage with only a few pieces. Look into other businesses’ newsletters for inspiration on formatting and content.

Consult your colleagues, especially those in product, customer service and sales for topic recommendations, as they can offer valuable insights and may already follow inspiring newsletters. Start small and prepare to grow, refine, segment and personalise as you get to know what your readers want from your newsletter.

Selecting the right newsletter software or platform

Now, let’s look at the newsletter tools that can streamline your strategy.

Before choosing newsletter software, ask yourself:

  1. What is my budget for newsletter software?
  2. How tech-savvy is my team?
  3. What level of customisation do I need for my newsletters?
  4. Do I require advanced features such as automation and analytics?
  5. Is scalability important for future growth?

Evaluating newsletter software

Once you have a clearer idea of your must-haves and nice-to-haves you can look into the options available for your newsletter software. As you can imagine, the standard is generally pretty high but it is still worth shopping around, checking out review sites and asking peers for recommendations on LinkedIn and suchlike.

Here are some more questions to consider to help you make the right choice.

  1. Does the software offer intuitive drag-and-drop interfaces for easy content creation?
  2. Are there responsive templates to ensure my newsletters look great on a variety of devices?
  3. What level of customer support and training is provided?
  4. Does the platform integrate well with other tools and software I use?
  5. Is there room for growth and scalability as my newsletter subscriber list expands?

Understanding the nuances of each platform helps in making an informed decision. Some platforms prioritise user-friendly interfaces, while others excel in advanced customisation. By weighing these factors, you can pinpoint the software that perfectly aligns with your requirements.

a photo of a person holding a tab with email list, a step in the process of how to create a newsletter.

Building an email list for the newsletter

Building a high-quality emailing newsletter list is fundamental to your success. It’s not just about quantity but the relevance and engagement of your subscribers.

Top tip:

  • Use a double opt-in process to ensure newsletter subscribers genuinely want to receive your newsletters. This will help improve engagement rates and keep your readership happy and loyal to your brand.
  • Try OptinMonster, a powerful tool for creating eye-catching opt-in forms and popups to convert website visitors into newsletter subscribers.

How to build and manage your email newsletter list

Building a robust email list is the foundation of successful newsletter campaigns. Here’s how you can effectively nurture and grow your subscriber base:

1. Importing existing contacts

Start by importing your existing contacts or newsletter and/or subscribers into the email list management system. This ensures that your newsletters reach individuals who have previously shown interest in your content or services.

Many email marketing platforms facilitate easy import processes, ensuring a seamless transition of your existing audience into your new campaigns. Don’t forget to consider all relevant data privacy regulations. Find out more about email newsletter data compliance.

2. Capturing new email subscribers

Broaden your subscriber base by utilising all relevant channels. How about including signup forms on your website’s landing pages or promoting your newsletters on social media? And don’t forget to gather email addresses at events or webinars.

3. Segmenting your email list

Making the effort to add the personal touch to emails is one hundred per cent worth your time. 74% of Baby Boomers think email is the most personal channel to receive communications from brands, followed by 72% of Gen X, 64% of Millennials and 60% of Gen Z, so why not get the edge on your competitors by ensuring your readers feel valued?

Segmentation is the key to effective personalisation.

Divide your email list based on criteria like interests, demographics, or past interactions. Email marketing platforms often provide tools for easy segmentation, allowing you to create targeted, compelling campaigns that resonate with each group in just a few clicks.

Crafting an engaging newsletter design

According to Statista, customers only spend an average of ten seconds reading marketing emails so you need to make a positive impact right away.

Here are some tips on how to create a newsletter that will get your reader’s attention for all the right reasons.

1. Select an appropriate template

Your template should reflect your brand identity and content style and, of course, perform well on all devices. If you don’t have the time or the in-house skills, don’t worry. Head on over to Canva who have a whole library of customisable templates just waiting for you.

2. Create a consistent brand presence

Your newsletter should echo your brand’s voice so maintain consistent colours, fonts and imagery across editions.

3. Provide a great user experience

Avoid clutter and include plenty of whitespace. A clean, well-organised layout guides readers seamlessly through your newsletter, ensuring they absorb the message without distraction.

4. Choose eye-catching visuals

Integrate striking, high-resolution images, illustrations and graphics that complement your content. Each visual should tell a story, evoke emotions and enhance the overall narrative.

Writing compelling content for the newsletter

Compelling content is the heart of a successful newsletter. Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction. 

If you need help creating compelling content, we are here to help!

Experience the best-in-market content creation platform, featuring a pre-screened, top 3% team of freelancers who become an extension of your own team. Click here to learn why we’re the preferred choice for quality, speed, expertise, and customer service in content marketing!

Crafting attention-grabbing subject lines

Subject lines are the gateway to your content. They should be intriguing, concise and relevant to encourage recipients to open the newsletter.

Top tips:

  • A/B Testing: Experiment with different subject lines to identify which ones yield the highest open rates.
  • Create a sense of urgency or curiosity to entice subscribers to open the email immediately. Make sure it doesn’t come across as spammy though!

Creating relevant and interesting content

Tailor your content to cater to your audience’s interests and needs and provide valuable insights and actionable tips that will help make your readers’ lives easier and establish your brand as the go-to source of information.

You could also include exclusive offers to engage new subscribers and build long-term loyalty among your current customer base. Research from Salescycle shows that 50% of people buy from marketing emails once a month, so this is definitely a tactic worth exploring.

Top tips:

  • Get support from expert freelancers and content strategists. Many marketers find themselves too close to their brands to be able to identify new opportunities or be objective about what is and what isn’t working. Collaborating with professional freelancers can help. Give our team a call to find out how it works!
Infographic about how to create and why to use news letters and marketing emails

Incorporating compelling Calls-to-Action

CTAs guide readers on the desired actions, whether it’s making a purchase, downloading a resource, or visiting your website.

Top tips:

  • Use action verbs that create a sense of urgency, like “Get Started,” “Grab Your Deal,” or “Discover Now.”
  • Place CTAs prominently and ensure they are clear and distinct from the rest of the content.

Personalising the newsletter design

Personalisation goes beyond addressing subscribers by their first name. It involves tailoring the entire content to individual preferences.

Top tips:

  • Use dynamic content blocks that change based on subscriber data, such as location or past interactions.

Recommended tools:

Campaign Monitor: This platform allows for advanced personalisation, enabling you to create highly tailored content based on subscriber data.

Optimising the newsletter for mobile devices

According to MailChimp, using a mobile-responsive email template can increase unique mobile clicks by 15%. Here are a few tips for designing a newsletter that looks great on all devices.

How do I create a mobile-friendly newsletter design?

  • Mobile users prefer quick, digestible content. Keep your newsletter concise and to the point, focusing on key information.
  • Place your CTAs prominently and ensure they are easily accessible on mobile screens. Use compelling language to encourage clicks.
  • Compress images to reduce file size without compromising quality.
  • Use legible fonts and maintain a font size of at least 14px for the body text. Avoid decorative fonts that may be difficult to read on small screens.
  • Arrange interactive elements, such as buttons and links, in a way that they can be easily tapped with a thumb. Consider the size and spacing of these elements.
  • Craft a compelling preview text (the snippet of text visible in the inbox) to entice users to open your newsletter. Make it engaging and relevant to increase open rates.
  • Continuously test your newsletters on various devices and email clients to identify and fix any display issues promptly.

Reviewing and proofreading the newsletter

Pretty much every marketer gets the fear when they press “Send”. Keep your nerves in check by meticulously reviewing your newsletter before sending it out. Spelling errors, broken links, or formatting issues can significantly diminish the professionalism of your content.

Top tips:

  • If possible, ask at least one colleague to review the newsletter. Fresh eyes can catch errors that you might miss.
  • Verify all links to ensure they direct readers to the intended destinations. Get your colleague to check these too for added peace of mind.
a photo of a person sending and distributing newsletter

Sending and distributing the newsletter

Schedule for optimal timing

You’re landing in your recipient’s busy inbox unannounced so getting your timing right is crucial. Schedule your newsletter to when your audience is most likely to engage. A HubSpot survey found that 34.9% of marketers said their emails got the most engagement between 9 AM and 12 PM while 27.6% stated it was between 12 PM to 3 PM. With no concrete answer to turn to the best course of action is to:

  1. Consider time zones. Schedule newsletters to accommodate different regions.
  2. Avoid peak hours. Steer clear of sending during peak email traffic hours to prevent getting lost in crowded inboxes.
  3. Consider any niche impacts. For example, if your target group is likely to have just returned from a major industry event, give them some time to settle back in first.

Analysing newsletter performance and measuring success

Analysing all your marketing performance is vital. Newsletters are, in our opinion, one to really take your time monitoring and looking for improvements. A lot of work goes into these missives and a lot of factors can prevent them from making the impact you hoped for. After each send make sure you take the time to analyse key metrics to gauge your newsletter’s effectiveness.

Here are some key newsletter metrics to monitor.

Open rate

As the name suggests, this measures the percentage of recipients who opened the newsletter.

Recommendation: Review the subject line and see if you can make it more compelling. Try this email subject line checker for some high-level guidance on whether it is working.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

CTR measures the percentage of recipients who clicked on one or more links contained in the newsletter.

Recommendation: Craft concise and visually appealing content. Ensure clear and enticing call-to-action buttons.

Conversion rate

This measures the percentage of recipients who completed a desired action after clicking a link in the newsletter.

Recommendation: Provide incentives such as exclusive discounts or limited-time offers mentioned in the newsletter to encourage conversions.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of emails that could not be delivered.

Recommendation: Regularly clean your email list to remove invalid or outdated addresses. Ensure opt-in processes are clear.

Unsubscribe rate

This shows the percentage of recipients who opted out of receiving future newsletters.

Recommendation: To mitigate future opt-outs try offering options for email frequency to avoid overwhelming subscribers and always provide valuable content consistently to maintain subscriber interest. You could include a widget for gauging why the reader opted out, though make that optional.

Forward rate

You guessed it — this measures the percentage of recipients who forwarded the newsletter to others.

Recommendation: Encourage sharing by incorporating social media buttons and referral programs.

Engagement over time

This helps you to see how engagement changes over different times, helping identify the best sending times.

Not sure how to track who makes it over the sales finish line? Check out this guide to the best conversion tracking tools.

a photo that divides an audience to ensure the success of newsletters

Tips for ensuring your ongoing success with newsletters

We’ve offered a lot of advice and guidance throughout this guide. Here are some takeaways for you to refer to as your newsletter journey evolves.

Segment your audience

Divide your subscribers into segments based on their preferences, behaviour or demographics. Tailor content to each segment’s interests for higher engagement.

Personalise content

Use subscriber data to personalise newsletters. Address your audience by their names and recommend products or services based on their past purchases or supply ‘exclusive’ content featuring topics that you know they are interested in.

Optimise for mobile devices

Ensure your newsletters are mobile-friendly. Most people check emails on their smartphones. Use responsive design and concise, visually appealing content to cater to mobile users.

Be consistent

Stick to a regular schedule for sending newsletters. Consistency helps subscribers anticipate your content, building trust and creating that all-important sense of expectation and anticipation. Establish a routine and publicise the release date on your socials if appropriate.

Monitor and analyse data

Regularly analyse metrics like open rates, click-through rates and conversion rates. Use this data to understand what works best and refine your content and strategies accordingly.

Craft compelling headlines

Invest time in creating captivating headlines. A strong headline grabs attention and entices readers to explore the content. Use action verbs and create a sense of urgency when appropriate.

Include Clear Calls to Action (CTAs)

Clearly state what action you want subscribers to take. Whether it’s making a purchase, reading an article, or signing up for an event, use visually prominent buttons and concise language to encourage engagement.

Build trust and loyalty

Be transparent about what subscribers can expect from your newsletters. Clearly outline the type of content they will receive and how often. Honesty builds trust and reduces the likelihood of the dreaded unsubscribers.

Use User-Generated Content

The best newsletters act as a conversation with your audience. Encourage subscribers to share their experiences, testimonials or creations related to your products or services.

Integrate social media

We mentioned this above but it bears repeating. Cross-promote your newsletters on social media platforms and include social media sharing buttons within your newsletters to amplify your reach.

A/B testing

Experiment with A/B testing for different elements of your newsletters, such as subject lines, CTAs, or images. Make sure you only test one thing at a time otherwise, you won’t be able to attribute any improvements or changes to the right source.

Stay compliant with regulations

Familiarise yourself with email marketing regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) or CAN-SPAM Act. Ensure you have subscribers’ consent and provide easy ways to unsubscribe.

How Contentoo can help

A lot of work goes into creating and distributing great newsletters; from the research to the content creation, promotion and delivery. Then there’s the monitoring and refinements and of course, cleansing the data lists.

Even experienced marketers struggle to do everything alone, in fact, 84% of brands outsource some or all of their content creation.

If you would benefit from expert support with your newsletters, blogs, e-books, social media, SEO or content strategy, book your free strategy call today. We would love to help.

Or look at why we are considered the best-in-market content creation platform, featuring a pre-screened, top 3% team of freelancers who become an extension of your own team. Click here to learn why we’re the preferred choice for quality, speed, expertise, and customer service!

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