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The unpredictability of social media and search algorithms, combined with the exponential returns on e-mail marketing has pushed many marketers like you to start a newsletter to build a loyal audience.

E-mail is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter

While the opportunity is big, your subscriber can find your content uninteresting and spam it if you do not deliver relevant and timely content to him. This is also because so many newsletters are already flooding your subscriber’s inbox and they only have time to read a few of them.

This begs us to ask the question: How do you get your newsletter, the attention it deserves? This article will take you through the key aspects to keep in mind while creating a newsletter:

Define Objectives

The first step is to establish your goals from the newsletter.

Is the goal to increase traffic to your website? To drive orders for a new product? To drive product usage? To covert bystanders to paying customers?

These goals will guide the strategy of your newsletter and ultimately decide the newsletter content.

Once you establish your goals, you need to convert them into measurable KPIs.

For example: If your goal is to drive orders for a new product, then the key metrics you should tracking are “number of units sold” or “revenue earned”.

Understand Audience

Once you have established the goals, you need to learn as much about your audience as you can:

  • Where do they live?
  • What is their age group?
  • What is their current job?
  • What are their information requirements which you can provide?
  • How do they currently consume information?
  • How much information do they consume at once?
  • Which time of the day do they check e-mails?
  • Which day of the week do they prefer to read content about your industry?
  • What is their current buying stage?

This information would help you to understand the needs of your audience which you can solve.

Also, this is not a one and done activity. You should continuously add and edit information as you learn more about your audience.

Types of Newsletters

E-mail newsletters can take different forms. Your different subscribers might have different information requirements.

For example: An e-commerce newsletter subscriber might be interested in knowing about recent discount offers. At the same time, other subscribers might want to stay updated on the latest fashion trends.

Similarly, a SaaS company’s newsletter subscriber might only be interested in “Product Updates” newsletter whereas others might want a “Thought Leadership” content newsletter.

Here are 12 types of newsletters you can consider starting for your company.

Different type of newsletters works well for different goals. Some help you to increase sales whereas others help you to build website engagement. You need to identify which one would work for your audience and at the same time help you achieve your goals.

Determine Frequency

You need to consider both the subscriber’s requirement as well as your internal capability while determining the frequency of the newsletter.

Subscriber’s Requirement Challenge

Information consumption habits are different for different types of content. Some types of information are meant for daily consumption whereas others are meant for weekly or monthly consumptions.

For example: A news subscriber would prefer a daily newsletter whereas a product upgrade newsletter subscriber would only be interested in receiving a monthly or a quarterly newsletter.

Internal Capability Challenge

It takes considerable time and effort to produce a quality newsletter. If you are working with limited resources, you should consider sending your newsletter less frequently.

For example: In the above example, even if your audience wants daily information, you can start with a weekly newsletter which gives a round-up of the top stories during the week. Gradually, as you start seeing success, you can convert it into a daily newsletter.

Content

By now, you would have established the objectives of starting a newsletter, your subscriber’s information requirement, the type of newsletter and its frequency.

Now, you need to create content, which maps to the requirements of your subscriber. For this, you need to ask these key questions:

  • How much content would be sent to the audience?
  • What should be the source of content? In-house or curated? New or existing?
  • Would the content be personalized or broad?
  • What should be the break-up of promotional and thought leadership content?

Let’s take the following scenario to understand it:

Objective: Build awareness about AI and establish thought leadership in this industry

Industry: Artificial Intelligence in Marketing

Audience: Marketing decision makers who are still not customers

Current Stage in the Buying Process: Low category awareness

Information Requirement: Different used cases of AI in marketing, market adoption rate and results achieved by early adopters

This above information can help us determine the frequency of the newsletter. Since this information is not updated on a daily or weekly basis, we can have either a fortnightly or a monthly newsletter.

Once we have determined the frequency, our audience’s information requirement would help us determine the content:

Information RequirementContent
Different Use-cases of AI in MarketingBlogs (Own), Product Capability Updates (Curated)
Market Adoption RateIndustry Reports (Curated)
Results Achieved by Early AdoptersCase Studies (Own and Curated)

You can go in more depth based on your internal capabilities.

For example: You can send sector-specific newsletters to your subscribers based on the industry they belong to.

Similarly, you can create different newsletters for subscribers based on their stage of the buying journey. A subscriber in the early stage would receive industry reports and awareness blogs whereas content for subscribers in the consideration stage would be focussed on product related and case study information.

Design

Once your content is decided, you need to think about your newsletter design. It should be eye-catching, skimmable and mobile friendly, while at the same time helping you achieve your objectives.

You also need to answer the following questions to guide your newsletter design:

  • What should be the length of the newsletter?
  • What should be the color scheme of banners, headings, and body?
  • Should it be in text or HTML format?
  • How much focus should be given to which content?
  • How would you drive behavior? (Example: website visit, product purchase etc.)

You can take inspiration for your newsletter design from this post by Venngage.

If you don’t have an established design department, there are tools like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor, which have plenty of ready-made templates to choose from.

Subject Line

A great subject line is a key to getting your newsletter opened and read. It is an opportunity to make a first impression and grab attention.

While you will find e-mail subject line best practices all over the web, there are 2 distinctive things you need to keep in mind for a newsletter subject line:

  • Develop a sense of familiarity. Give a name to the newsletter which your audience can look forward to on a regular basis.
  • Provide an overview of the newsletter in the subject

Testing and Optimization

Finally, it is critical to stay updated on your newsletter performance. You need to regularly analyze both your basic (open rate and click rate) and advanced metrics (time on site and revenue) to understand your subject line performance and subscriber’s content preferences.

Conclusion

Newsletters are a great way to build a loyal audience and move them along the buying journey. However, given the clutter in a subscriber’s inbox, you need to think through your strategy to ensure an engaged readership.

What has been your experience with newsletters? Please comment below.