5 Steps to Launching Your First Email Newsletter

We cover everything from finding the right mass email tool to writing fresh and engaging content for your subscribers!

Online business owners launching newsletter

Writing and curating a newsletter is not the easiest marketing strategy, so you might be wondering why businesses decide to invest their time and effort in newsletter marketing at all. Newsletters are not the type of marketing tool that will instantly garner positive metrics and sales, yet more and more businesses are rolling out their own newsletters every day.

Even though they are not the flashiest email marketing tool out there, in the long term, newsletter marketing is extremely effective for businesses of all sizes. The reason newsletters are so effective is because they gradually build a relationship with the recipient and provide them with updates beyond just discounts and new product launches.

When you write compelling content, your target audience will look forward to receiving the latest updates about your company. Additionally, you allow your audience to really get to know your brand without feeling like they are reading a sales pitch. The numbers don’t lie either—more businesses are launching newsletters because they create results, grow brand recognition, and increase brand loyalty.

Today we’re going to be showing you how to launch a successful first newsletter from your business! We’re exploring how you can find the right mass email software to send your messages and going over how you can create beautiful and compelling updates for your target audience. Are you ready to grow your business through newsletter marketing?

Step 1: Finding the Right Mass Email Tool to Launch Your Campaign

It is important to know how you are going to distribute your newsletter before you begin writing and design

Sending mass email
Send hundreds or even thousands of emails with your chosen mass email service.

Before you write a single word or start choosing a template for your first newsletter, you will need to find a mass email tool that you can use to send your messages. Mass email tools, also known as bulk email services, are powerful tools that allow users to send hundreds or even thousands of emails to their target audience. We strongly advise against sending out your first round of mass emails without a mass email tool. Should you try to send out your first newsletter without a bulk email service on your side, the results could be disastrous.

Why Use a Mass Email Service to Send Newsletters?

If you try to send out your newsletter without using a mass email tool, then it is highly likely your messages will be immediately sent to the spam folder. This will happen for two reasons—the first reason is that you are likely to exceed your daily message limit. For a service like Gmail—which is the most popular option for sending email newsletters—users are limited to 500 emails per day. If you accidentally exceed this limit, your messages will be flagged as spam and you will hurt your sender reputation. Once your address is flagged by Gmail, it becomes difficult to send any messages without being flagged as spam.

The second reason that your messages will get flagged as spam is due to the lack of personalization. Personalization is important for any type of mass email, but it is especially important for newsletter marketing. Email personalization is a practice of automatically inputting information from your address list into your messages. This practice is sometimes called a mail merge since you are merging your address list with your written message.

Using personalization, you can directly address the recipient in the subject line of your email, which leads to greater deliverability and open rates. Think about it—you are far more likely to open a message addressed with your name than you are to open an email that looks like it could be sent to anyone. If your newsletters feel too anonymous and lack personalization, users are more likely to report your address as spam which will also damage your sender reputation.

Finding the Right Mass Email Tool For Your Business

Now that we know why it is so important to use a mass email service to help you send out your first newsletter. When you are searching for a mass email tool to help you send out your messages, you should pay special attention to the following features:

  1. Easy to use design capabilities
  2. Message throttling (strategically sending messages so you do not exceed the daily limit)
  3. Mail merge/personalization
  4. Comprehensive reporting capabilities
  5. Effortless campaign scheduling
  6. Automatic address list updates

Though these terms may sound foreign to the first-time email marketer, they are important features that you will need to use as you craft, send, and analyze your first campaign. So, while you are browsing for a mass email service, keep these terms in mind.

One of the great things about these services is that many of them have a limited free options. We recommend trying out a few of these mass email services and choosing the one that you feel is the easiest and most intuitive to use. Once you’ve found one that you feel comfortable using to send out your first newsletter, you can opt to purchase a premium plan with expanded features.

Step 2: Start Working on Your Newsletter Campaign Strategy

Once you’ve found your mass email tool, you are ready to start planning out your first newsletter

Marketing strategic meeting
Your strategy will influence your email newsletter content.

Now that you know how you are going to send out your first newsletter, it’s time to narrow down exactly what you want to say in your newsletter. Depending on your business, there are a lot of different subjects you can talk about. For example, if you run an eCommerce business, you might want to start a lifestyle newsletter that compliments and highlights your product. This creates a strong brand identity and positions your business as a thought leader in the industry. Your newsletter doesn’t always have to directly reference your marquee product or your business. It is often beneficial to avoid directly referencing your business so that your newsletter does not read like sales copy.

Once you’ve settled on what you want to say, the next step in establishing a strategy is to determine how often you want to send your newsletter. We advise against sending out a newsletter too often to avoid annoying your subscribers.

Most newsletters are sent out somewhere between once a week and once a month. Again, the frequency of your emails will depend on your industry and the subject matter that you choose to write about. If your industry has frequent updates, then it may warrant a weekly newsletter. However, for most industries, a monthly newsletter works just fine.

Step 3: Building and Managing Your Address List

Your address list is your most important asset for sending out your first newsletter

Managing newsletter address list
You may be surprised by how easy it is to build an address list.

To start your newsletter, you need to have a list of email addresses ready to go. Without a well-organized list of addresses, sending out a newsletter is nearly impossible. But, how can you collect addresses and other information for your newsletter address list? Let’s take a look at a few key strategies you can use to start cultivating your audience:

  1. Contests – Holding a contest is a great way to gather addresses from your target audience. Encourage your audience to sign up for a chance to win one of your products or services and use the information they provide to start building your address list in a Google sheet.
  2. Pop-Up Forms – Another easy way to start building your address list is by setting up a pop-up form on your website. When users visit your site, they will be prompted to enter their email address and any other relevant information to receive updates from your business.
  3. Social Media – Many people have their email addresses and other basic information like first and last names publicly available on social media. If you have a social media account for your business with a decent following, you can use information that is publicly available on individual profiles to build your address list.

One aspect of list building that we want to address is purchasing address lists. We highly advise against purchasing address lists as these are often illegitimate, out-of-date, and can get your address flagged as spam.

Step 4: Start Planning Out Your Newsletter Content and Design Elements

Start brainstorming content that your target audience will look forward to reading each time they receive your newsletter

Newsletter content planning and design
Make sure your newsletter design is optimized for mobile!

Now that we’ve established how you are going to send your newsletter and gathered some addresses, it’s time to start writing and designing the newsletter. Your first newsletter is important as it will set the tone for future newsletters to come and should engage your readers so that they are interested in more content from your business in the future.

Choosing a Newsletter Template

The first thing you need to get started is a newsletter template. Unless you are a capable graphic designer, you will likely need to start with a newsletter template and customize your first draft from there. Depending on the mass email service that you choose to send your newsletter, it may have some templates and design features built-in that you can use to get started.

When choosing a template, make sure that you choose something that you can easily integrate with your brand including color choice, logos, links, video embeds, and any other design elements you envision for your newsletter.

Establishing a Content Strategy

The next step in creating your newsletter is to decide on a content strategy. The key to writing compelling content is to consider your audience first. Who is your audience? Why are they subscribing to your newsletter? What kind of content do they want/expect from your business? After asking yourself these questions, you can get started brainstorming your content based on your answers.

When you are getting started, you should gather as many ideas as possible so that you can plan out your content a few months in advance. You don’t want to fall behind on your newsletters just because you are stumped for content ideas!

We also highly recommend keeping all of your content as timely and as relevant as possible. If there are news stories or trending topics that apply to your industry, you can plan your content around these updates.

If you run an eCommerce business, you should take advantage of major holidays as a way to showcase your product and give your audience ideas for how your product can be used all year round. For example, if you are running a newsletter for a local flower shop, you should send out a newsletter about the best types of flowers to get your mom for Mother’s Day or a similar topic. By timing your newsletters with current events and holidays, you can ensure that your newsletters are always relevant to your recipients.

If you are truly stumped when it comes to content ideas, there are resources online you can consult for newsletter topic ideas. Just be sure that you are injecting your brand identity into every subject and you will be well on your way to writing compelling content for your target audience.

Elements of a Successful Newsletter

When you begin writing your newsletter, there are a lot of different aspects you need to consider. Sure, you need to draft your copy for the body of your email based on your established content strategy, but there are other aspects of your message that are just as important as your body copy. The elements you need to pay special attention to are as follows:

  1. A strong and personalized subject line that grabs your recipient’s attention
  2. Personalized intro/address to your recipient
  3. A compelling CTA that instructs your recipient on how you want them to interact with your message
  4. A footer that includes an unsubscribe option for your readers

These are all critical elements that every email newsletter should have, so don’t send out your first message without including the aforementioned elements. It may sound counterintuitive to include an unsubscribe option for your newsletter, but it is in your best interest. If you don’t give your audience the option to unsubscribe, they will report your message as spam which hurts your sender reputation.

Step 5: Execute a Mail Merge and Test Your First Email Newsletter

You’re almost there! Only a few more steps and you’re ready to launch your campaign!

Mass email campaign testing
Improve future campaigns with reports from your mass email service.

Now that you have designed and written your message, you are almost ready to hit send. But, before you hit send, you need to initiate a mail merge with your address list and make sure all elements of your newsletter function correctly. A mail merge is what allows you to personalize your message. When you start a mail merge using your mass email service, the information from your address list, including each individual address and any other personalization elements, is automatically placed in your messages.

Once the mail merge is complete, you need to test your messages to make sure there were no errors in personalization, formatting, links, or any other elements of your newsletter. This might just be the most important step of the whole process since you can unsend messages and you certainly don’t want to have to follow up with a correction. Test your message by sending a message to a colleague or to yourself to verify everything is working as it should. Be sure to check both desktop and mobile formatting, too! These days, most people check their email on their smartphone as opposed to a desktop, so it is super important you make sure that everything in your messages shows up correctly on mobile.

Once you’ve tested your first newsletter without issue, you’re ready to send out your first newsletter as a part of your campaign! However, when you hit send your work is far from over. After your messages are sent and your audience begins to interact, you can use your mass email service to pull reports on how your campaign is performing. From there you can improve your newsletter and continue to grow your address list as you gain more subscribers. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro at writing and sending newsletters!

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