Making It Know

How to Start a Newsletter

Email marketing is an excellent tool for new businesses. It's a low-overhead way to begin to build brand awareness and develop customer relationships, and there are plenty of tools that make it beginner-friendly. You might use weekly messages to promote new products or services or to encourage visits to your website or social media accounts.

After implementing a successful email marketing strategy, businesses often choose to create a newsletter. Newsletters are a specific type of email marketing campaign. Instead of a targeted promotional email, which might advertise one new product or ask an audience to take one specific action, newsletters offer more robust information. They often read like a curated round-up of content that's relevant to the audience of a brand or business.

Read on to learn whether it's the right time to create a newsletter for your business or blog, and find out how to use Squarespace Email Campaigns to start your first newsletter.

Benefits of newsletter content

Although newsletters aren’t a replacement for a business’s promotional email campaigns, they can be a complementary way to sell products or services. Creating a weekly or monthly newsletter send cadence helps businesses extend their brand reach, grow their mailing list, and learn more about their audience on an ongoing basis.

The content of your newsletter may vary because it should be driven by customer interest and strategic need. If you run a business, you might have content on your website that's ready to share, like blog posts, infographics, and social media posts. You might also decide to create a new content mix for each newsletter, or personal insights as a small business expert in your field. 

For bloggers, newsletters can also be an invaluable part of your email marketing strategy. Sharing informative or authoritative posts with your audience can help establish you as an expert in your field. This level of thought leadership increases brand awareness and helps expand your customer base or reach. For example, writers might choose to send a periodic compilation of links to blog posts or produce an article that is exclusive to newsletter subscribers.  

Whether you’re a business owner or blogger, a newsletter can give your customers or readers the chance to feel connected to your brand. From a writing standpoint, the tone of these emails is often more personal and direct. For businesses, making a deeper connection with customers can help increase brand loyalty and indirectly lead to additional sales. For bloggers, a bigger and more loyal audience can increase a writer's reach and lead to more visibility and impact.

Determining how to make a newsletter that best reaches a particular audience involves putting together a strategy and thinking carefully about design, content, and scheduling. Spending the time up front to determine how a newsletter fits in with your email marketing strategy is the key  to future success.

Before you launch a newsletter

Launching a newsletter requires time and advance preparation. First, make sure you have an email marketing strategy in place before launch. Having this framework makes it easier to identify and reach your goals.

Setting your newsletter goals

Newsletter goals vary depending on multiple factors. To determine the best goals for your business, start by spending some time planning with these five key steps:

  1. Outline what you hope to accomplish with your newsletter.

  2. Define what newsletter success looks like to you.

  3. Determine any quantitative results you’d like to see.

  4. Develop your newsletter’s content strategy.

  5. Choose a consistent newsletter send schedule.

Planning out your content strategy

Newsletters aren't promotion-driven email campaigns, which tend to focus on sales, introduce new products, and share business news. Instead, newsletters allow you to share original content with your audience. This content can include thought leadership, such as blog posts, articles, research, and infographics, or multimedia content, such as podcasts, videos, graphics, or social media posts.

When starting a newsletter, look at your existing content and see if you have material available to share with your audience or if you'll need to create new work. Time is a concern for many new business owners, so you might opt to repurpose things you've already written. For example, you could take content from an annual report, present it in a way that’s compelling to your audience, and share it in a newsletter. 

Choosing a send schedule

After determining your content needs and approach, it’s time for you to decide on an email marketing platform, set up a framework for sending emails, and choose a schedule that works with the time you have available. Newsletters should always be sent on a specific schedule. Make sure when you're planning out your newsletters to map out enough content in advance, so you’ll be sure to stay consistent with the cadence you choose. That helps you avoid a situation where your first newsletter is really long, but subsequent newsletters find you scrambling for content.

Read more about preparing to launch your newsletter.

Growing newsletter subscribers

Before launching and marketing a newsletter, develop and implement a growth plan centered around increasing your subscribers. When you're managing a newsletter, one of your goals should be to grow your subscriber base over time. Having a larger newsletter following will naturally enhance your overall marketing and email strategies. 

The following are common surfaces where you could grow your newsletter mailing list: 

  • Social media: Your social media channels are useful places to promote your newsletter. For example, you could include a link to your website’s newsletter sign-up area through your own Bio Site

  • Events: At virtual or in-person events, you could gather names and email addresses, and then upload a CSV or spreadsheet of sign-ups to the mailing list in your email marketing platform.

  • Other email marketing: Many businesses opt to leverage their main email list for newsletter promotion. Place a permanent CTA, like "Subscribe to our newsletter," in a prominent place in all of your marketing emails. 

When growing your subscriber base, be sure to follow best practices. For example it’s not wise to purchase an email list or automatically subscribe anyone without their written consent. In addition to irritating recipients, these actions could get your domain blacklisted by your internet service provider (ISP), which would diminish your mail reach and damage your reputation. 

Read more about growing newsletter subscribers.

Selections of Squarespace email newsletter design templates

Newsletter design and templates

A successful newsletter pairs quality content with beautiful design. In terms of both tone and aesthetics, newsletters encourage companies to be less formal than they would be with promotional email campaigns. That's largely due to the content mix of newsletters, which can take a more personal and entertaining approach. Newsletters give businesses a chance to test out different kinds of content to see how subscribers might react. Not only can this help deepen audience connections, but you might discover new business opportunities or promotional channels this way.

When considering your newsletter design, think about the newsletters you enjoy and consistently read. What is it about those newsletters that makes you look forward to opening them? Take note of their design approaches and types of content that you’d like to explore in your own newsletter. Consider broadening your content strategy to include personal anecdotes or exclusive interviews with thought leaders, brand partners, or customers. Other popular newsletter components include infographics, social media elements, existing blog content, and custom graphics or videos. Find or create a design template that will accommodate whichever content elements you choose.

Newsletter design follows the same best practices you'll implement with other email marketing campaigns: Incorporate strong visual branding, a sensible layout, links to social media accounts and your website, and an unsubscribe link.

It's also crucial to follow best practices that ensure you won't get snared by spam folders. For newsletters, define your sender details and use an email address associated with your custom website domain, as this signifies brand legitimacy to your audience. 

Read more about newsletter design

Creating a newsletter for your blog

A blog newsletter is less promotional than other email campaigns. In most cases, you're not trying to sell a product or service. Typically, a blogger’s newsletter encourages readers to visit their blog, read what the writer (or group of writers) has to say, and engage with the content in a meaningful way. Accordingly, the content strategy for these newsletters revolves around links to blog posts. For example, you might use the newsletter as a showcase for recent articles, or choose a themed collection. With Squarespace Email Campaigns you can easily pull blog content into your newsletter. 

Design-wise, these newsletters will benefit from shorter-form copy sections that function as teasers. You're trying to incentivize someone to click through and read your blog. However, there is no one-size-fits-all template. Determining how much content to include and how it’s arranged depends on the metrics you want to track. Common metrics include open rate or click-through rate.

You might design one template featuring multiple images and another that's more text-heavy, then A/B test them to see which one performs better. Don't feel like you need to know what your ideal blog newsletter template looks like right away—you can test these variables over time and adjust as you go.

Read more about blog newsletter strategies.

Launching a newsletter for your business

A business newsletter provides your audience with useful information beyond sales or promotional offers. Businesses often view blog content as a stepping stone to a sales transaction or customer conversion, so if your business already maintains a blog, your newsletter could showcase recent articles and link back to your website. Sharing blog content in a newsletter is an excellent way to augment your email marketing activities and save newsletter production time by featuring existing content. 

Whether or not you choose to feature blog content, the format and content of a business-oriented newsletter can be tailored to your specific needs. Some newsletters focus on niche topics and might be sent to only a small segment of customers, while others have broader appeal. If your company doesn't have a blog, your newsletter may share company updates or information about client work. Other newsletters focus on product updates or thought leadership.

Design-wise, you may opt for a newsletter dominated by text, one that's graphics-heavy, or a hybrid that’s in between. Over time, your design may change in response to customer needs or marketing trends. Your email platform’s analytics tools will tell you what you should know in terms of which content is and isn't performing well.

Read more about crafting a newsletter for your business.

Keep in mind that it doesn't always make sense to start a newsletter right away. You might not have existing content available to share. You might be busy growing other parts of your business and have no time to develop new content. Or you might still be in the middle of developing or refining an overall email marketing strategy.

In cases like this, it might make sense to dedicate your time to one-off or occasional email marketing campaigns focused on promotion, such as a seasonal product offering or an exciting new partnership. Or you may decide to focus your energy on expanding your social media presence and revisit a newsletter once you have a broader reach.

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