Want to use newsletters to get recurring blog traffic and build brand authority?
Relax – it’s a lot easier than you think.
In this beginner’s guide, we’ll talk about newsletters – what they are, why use them, and the tools to create them.
Read on to get started.
What is a newsletter?
A digital newsletter is a type of email that provides updates from a blog or company. It may contain links to blog posts, product pages, news articles, videos, and so on.
In a lot of cases, newsletters also include special offers. With effective targeting, they generate more conversions than other promotion strategies, be it a social media post or an ad.
Newsletters often utilize a visual template that makes content more presentable.
Established brands like Trello do this by incorporating HTML elements into their newsletters.
Other brands, however, stick to plain text newsletters to make it feel more personalized and accessible.
Here is an example of a simple newsletter from the guys at Social Media Examiner:
Whether or not you want to go visual is completely up to you.
I, myself, lean towards plain text newsletters since they’re faster, easier to build, and feel more authentic.
After all, I handcraft each newsletter myself. That takes much more work and dedication than someone copying and pasting content into template placeholders.
Got your attention?
Let me tell you more about newsletters.
Benefits of newsletters
Take a closer look at what newsletters can do for your blog:
- Get recurring targeted traffic – Sending newsletters is a reliable way to generate traffic to your latest blog posts. Since you’re broadcasting to people who know you, there’s a higher chance they’ll click your links – thus, boosting recurring traffic.
- Nurture existing leads – Newsletters help build the trust of your subscribers, especially if you regularly share valuable content. This will help nurture your leads and eventually turn them into customers.
- Maintain brand awareness until the purchase decision – It’s a known fact that most people don’t commit to a purchase the first time they visit a site. Sending newsletters allows them to keep your brand in mind until they’re ready to buy, helping you close more sales.
- Generate repeat customers – You should keep sending newsletters to subscribers even after they make a purchase. In turn, they’ll be more likely to become repeat customers and grow your profits over time.
- Show new subscribers where to go – A newsletter campaign should start with a welcome email that has links to your most important content. This kickstarts your audience’s journey from being cold prospects to paying customers.
On top of all that, it’s worth noting that you can start sending newsletters for free.
If you’re just starting out, remember that you can use free email marketing platforms to get the ball rolling.
Their features aren’t that bad, either. You can create opt-in forms, manage your lists, design your newsletter, automate emails – all without paying a single cent.
There’s more on both free and premium blog newsletter tools later in this post.
How to create effective newsletters
Below are eight proven tips that will help you make the most out of your newsletters:
1. Understand your audience
To keep your audience subscribed to your newsletter, it’s important to understand their needs.
Create a “buyer persona” that defines their goals, problems, and content preferences. This makes sure every email captures their attention and maximizes click-throughs.
HubSpot’s Make My Persona is a cool simple tool that can help you create a detailed persona in minutes. You just have to perform a series of steps, including picking an avatar, defining their demographics, and so on.
Whenever you write newsletters, picture yourself talking to the persona you’ve made.
That’s the secret to creating newsletters that sound authentic and convincing.
2. Time your newsletters right
By understanding your audience, you should also have a clear idea of their online behavioral patterns.
More specifically, you should know when they’re most likely to see your email.
Unfortunately, there’s no specific newsletter schedule that works for every blog.
The only way to figure out the best time to send your newsletter is through trial and error.
You can also use statistics to make an informed decision for your first newsletter. And according to various studies, the best time to send newsletters are:
- Thursdays (higher open rates)
- Tuesdays (higher click-through rates)
- Saturdays (higher click-to-open rates)
- 10 AM-1 PM
3. Set your audience’s expectations with your welcome email
When creating your welcome email, be sure to tell subscribers what to expect.
Mention the lessons they’ll learn if they stay subscribed. As a result, they’ll be more likely to open your newsletters as soon as they get it.
GetResponse did great in this regard by showing a list of things their subscribers will learn in a month.
4. Keep your mailing list clean
Setting your audience’s expectations from the get-go also weeds out the wrong people from your list.
If your welcome email’s message doesn’t align with their needs, give them the option to unsubscribe immediately.
A simple “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of your newsletter should suffice.
It sounds counterintuitive, but it will help you get more accurate metrics when analyzing your campaign. At the same time, you’ll be able to tailor your newsletter to subscribers who actually have a chance of converting.
5. Use “open loops”
An open loop is designed to encourage subscribers to open your next email.
It’s designed for email campaigns that involve a series of messages sent in order. But if you plan newsletters ahead of time, you can also use open loops for higher open rates.
A simple strategy for writing open loops is to promise subscribers something for the next newsletter.
Tell them something along the lines of:
- In the next newsletter, you’ll learn more about…
- Wondering what that is? I’ll tell you more in my next email.
- Want to find out more about it? Watch out for the next newsletter to find out!
I used an open loop a few times in my newsletter campaign with great success. Here’s an example:
6. Identify and focus on goals
Before you launch a newsletter campaign, make sure to clearly identify your goals.
Do you want your newsletter to sell more of a specific product? Would you like more people to attend your webinar?
Whatever your goal, everything in your newsletter should lead to it.
Visual elements, contents, value propositions – they should all build up to a call-to-action. This can be a button or link that will take subscribers to the next step.
As a rule of thumb, the CTAs in your newsletter should be clearly visible.
You don’t need to use a visual button to do that. With proper spacing and formatting, CTA links can definitely stand out.
7. Learn to split test your newsletters
In email marketing, there’s no such thing as an overnight success.
You need to monitor metrics like open rate, click-through rate, and unsubscribe rate to determine if you’re strategies are working.
Split testing newsletters cuts the time it takes to collect sufficient data.
The good news is, most modern email marketing platforms have an A/B testing tool built right in.
You can jump ahead to the “Blog newsletter tools ” section to find the right email marketing platform for you.
8. Create captivating subject lines
A newsletter’s subject line has the most important job of all: making sure the email’s content is actually seen.
Always create at least two subject lines per email for split testing purposes. As for the subject lines themselves, the best strategies include generating curiosity, making subscribers laugh, and being direct.
Here’s a more detailed explanation about these strategies:
- Generate curiosity – You can spark your subscribers’ curiosity with subject lines that result in them asking: “what?” Some examples include telling them about a secret or asking a question.
- Making subscribers laugh – To instantly get your subscribers’ attention, you can try using more humorous subject lines. You can tell a joke or use puns that relate to your brand.
- Being direct – A proven strategy is to be direct and mention what your subscribers stand to gain. Just include one of the lessons they’ll learn or goals they’ll accomplish after reading your newsletter.
Take a look at some of the subject lines I’ve used these past few months:
9. Show them other ways you could hang out
If there’s one thing I learned about digital marketing, it’s to never rely on just one communication channel.
When sending newsletters, remind them about other ways they can keep in touch from time to time. It can be your Facebook group, YouTube channel, Discord server, and so on.
Cross-promote these channels to maximize engagement and build a sense of community among your audience. For example, you can promote your YouTube channel on your Telegram group and vice versa.
Here’s a section in an email from Nomadic Matt that entices his subscribers to join his group:
10. “Train” your subscribers to click
Before you push out your salesy newsletters with discounts and special offers, try “training” your subscribers to click links first.
What you can do is include a few links to pages that don’t sell anything. It can be an informative blog post, free webinar, YouTube video, or anywhere that provides free value to users.
For these links, use descriptive anchor texts that tell readers exactly what to expect.
11. Try to use visuals that grab attention
Sticking to plain text newsletters is a viable long-term strategy. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the potential of attention-grabbing images in emails.
If you have a real photo that reveals a bit of your personality, try starting your newsletter with it. You can also use animated GIFs or even memes that will help subscribers be familiar with your brand.
Here’s an email where I used an animated GIF of Steve Harvey to drive my point home:
How often to send a newsletter?
A lot of email marketing blogs recommend sending newsletters twice a month or once every two weeks. If you have the capacity, you should also consider sending newsletters every week.
Statistics show that 61 percent of consumers prefer receiving emails from companies they follow at least weekly.
Other brands send daily newsletters, but that’s not an ideal strategy.
You probably already know why.
Furthermore, you don’t want to rush the newsletter creation process.
It should be the highlight of your email marketing campaign – alongside other marketing emails like birthday and cart abandonment announcements.
Creating daily newsletters just for the sake of having them would diminish their quality and value. Consequently, this may cause your subscribers to lose interest.
Have a look at some of the best newsletter tools available right now:
Full disclosure: ActiveCampaign is the email marketing platform I use for my Master Blogging readers. Its user-friendly interface and comprehensive toolset allow you to engineer an optimized and automated email marketing campaign from day one.
ConverKit is an all-in-one email marketing platform that can help you from lead generation all the way to sales. Its core features can be used indefinitely for free as long as you have only 1,000 subscribers or less.
GetResponse is a modern email marketing platform that focuses on autoresponders. Apart from email automation, it also has ready-to-use newsletter templates, list segmentation features, and a drag-and-drop form builder.
AWeber is a trusted email marketing tool with powerful design features, automation tools, and a robust library of email templates. It also has an AI-powered design assistant that will create custom, branded email templates for you in mere seconds.
MailChimp offers a free plan that you can use as long as you only have 2000 or fewer subscribers. Despite that, it can provide you with everything you need to get an email marketing campaign up and running.
Another free email marketing platform you can use is Sendinblue, which has way fewer limitations than MailChimp. It’s free regardless of your list size with a generous cap of up to 300 emails per day.
Lastly, SendGrid is an advanced email marketing platform with unique features like the ROI calculator and brand reputation tracker. Its free version lets you send up to 40,000 emails for 30 days and 100 emails per day after that.
WordPress plugins for blog newsletters
The tools above represent some of the top-tier email marketing platforms in the business.
There are also WordPress plugins you can use to launch a newsletter marketing campaign from start to finish.
Subscribers.com is a free WordPress plugin that allows you to reach your audience via push notifications. These are a great complement to newsletters – letting you skip your audience’s inbox and show your message on their screens.
MailPoet integrates into WordPress so you can perform tasks like build newsletters and manage your lists without leaving your dashboard. Despite being marketed as just a WordPress plugin, it can actually match some email marketing platforms in terms of features.
Finally, SendFox is a lightweight email marketing tool designed to be used by content creators. It uses the SendFox WordPress plugin which lets you capture emails from comments, registration forms, and checkout forms.
That sums up this beginner’s guide to newsletter marketing.
You’re now all geared up and ready to send your very first newsletter.
Just follow the tips above and you’re sure to get positive responses to your emails.
For any questions, feedback, and suggestions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. I’m always eager to hear what you say.
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