When it comes to marketing your business online, there are a lot of avenues you can pursue. If you’re in search of maximum reach and the best results possible, you’ll want to explore as many of the top methods as you can. This includes learning how to start a newsletter.
Email newsletters have become incredibly common – there’s a good chance you’re subscribed to a few already. This is because they’re easy and cheap to produce, and at the same time can be surprisingly effective. Plus, there’s something a lot more personal about an email than many other marketing techniques.
We’re willing to bet you’ve seen plenty of email newsletters in your time:
In a broad sense, a newsletter is simply any email you receive from a business or organization, which is directed to multiple recipients (rather than, for example, an individual email receipt for a transaction). There’s a lot of ‘wiggle room’ in that definition, so newsletters can serve a wide variety of purposes.
Most of the time, newsletters are used as marketing tools for a company’s products or services. However, they can also be more generally used for communication of important or interesting information to a specific audience. Some newsletters are one-off affairs, while many are part of ongoing campaigns consisting of multiple messages over months or years.
Don’t be fooled by the name either – newsletters aren’t just for news. While that’s a common use, you can also use these emails to provide resources, promote a new product, invite people to an event, offer a special reward or discount, or just about anything else you can think of.
The reasons to learn how to start a newsletter are as varied as the use cases we just discussed. If you run a community-based organization, nonprofit, or membership site, for example, you may use your newsletter simply to provide information and keep the community up-to-date on what you’re doing.
However, let’s focus on the most common application for an email newsletter – marketing. Building up an email list and sending out regular marketing emails can result in a number of benefits. For instance:
Those are some impressive stats, and just a small taste of the advantages this type of marketing can provide. Given this, it should be no surprise that your own inbox is probably inundated with such emails. Not to mention, you’re likely to see a newsletter sign-up form on most sites you visit:
If you want to get in on the action, the good news is it’s neither a time-intensive nor a costly process. Let’s take a look at the basics of how to start a newsletter.
The nice thing about email marketing is its ‘scalability’. In other words, you can start very small, with a modest list and a single message, and work your way up over time. Overall, there’s little risk involved in simply giving it a try.
If you need more convincing, let’s look at the process for how to start a newsletter. We’ll begin with selecting the right tool for the job.
Technically speaking, you can learn how to start a newsletter without any special tools. You could gather email addresses by hand, store them in a spreadsheet, and send out emails via Gmail or Outlook.
However, this is a tedious way of performing email marketing. As your list grows, managing it will become more and more unwieldy. Plus, you’ll have few options for formatting and styling your newsletters, targeting your campaigns, and so on. You’ll also have to keep track of all the anti-spam laws around the world, and make sure your newsletter is compliant on your own.
To get the kind of results we discussed earlier, you’ll almost certainly want to use some kind of email marketing platform:
This is an all-in-one service to helps you build your list, manage it, create and send messages, and more. As you might expect, there are a lot of options. A few of the most popular sites include:
All three of these platforms (and many of the other popular choices) also provide templates and other tools to help you build newsletters. In addition, they let you build and organize your email list, and even segment subscribers into multiple groups in order to target them with more specific messaging.
Ultimately, the tool you choose will come down to personal preference and budget. Fortunately, most solutions will offer a free trial or starter tier, including all three listed above. This lets you get a feel for the interface and feature set before making a commitment.
The next step in how to start a newsletter is gathering email addresses. After all, your newsletter won’t do you much good if there’s no one to send it to. You’ll want to build your list by letting people opt-in as subscribers. Almost no one likes to have marketing messages show up in their inbox that they weren’t expecting or didn’t want. Plus, by focusing on audience members who have already indicated an interest in your business, you’ll be able to use your newsletter to encourage further engagement. And you’ll avoid breaking anti-spam laws.
Perhaps the best way to start growing your list is to place a prominent sign-up form on your website. You’ve no doubt seen these opt-in messages before:
How you do this will depend on your chosen email marketing solution. Most will offer easy ways to integrate your account with your website, enabling you to place a sign-up form on one or more pages using a bit of code. Visitors can use that form to subscribe, and their information will automatically be imported into your list.
Just as an example, in SendinBlue you can visit the Form section of your dashboard to customize what the opt-in form will look like:
When you’re done, the platform will generate a code. If you paste this into the HTML on one of your site’s pages, the form will appear ready-to-go. Depending on how your site is built, you may be able to get even more control over this form.
If you’re using WordPress, for example, there are integration plugins for most of the popular email marketing platforms. For instance, the SendinBlue Subscribe Form and WP SMTP plugin lets you optimize your forms more fully, view statistics on how well your campaigns are performing, and more:
Regardless of how you get the opt-in form to appear on your site, remember to take care with its placement. For best results, it should be located somewhere prominent, such as on your home page. If possible, you can also use contrasting colors, fonts, and other design elements to help it stand out.
Finally, it’s worth noting that your website isn’t the only place where you can promote your newsletter. If you want to build a substantial list of subscribers, you’ll also want to take advantage of other channels.
For example, social media is an excellent way to expand your newsletter’s reach. By first figuring out what social media platforms your audience is likely using, you can then post about your newsletter and encourage people to sign up. For more help with this step, you can check out our guide to writing social media posts that get attention.
At this point, you have the tools you need, and some subscribers who are interested in hearing what you have to say. Naturally, the final step in learning how to start a newsletter is to send your first message.
As with the previous step, the way you do this will be somewhat shaped by your email marketing platform. Any solution you’ve chosen should offer a built-in way for you to create emails:
Generally, you can either start from a template and customize it, or work from scratch. Either way, here are some things you keep in mind as you’re writing up the first newsletter:
Welcome emails tend to have the highest open rates of all. Therefore, this is your first and best chance to demonstrate the value of your newsletter. From here, it’s up to you to take your campaign in whatever direction you like!
Chances are you already have a website for your business, and you’ve even developed a strong social media marketing strategy. If you haven’t yet dipped your toes into the world of email marketing, however, you’re not making the most of your online presence.
Do you have any questions about how to start a newsletter for your website or business? Share them with us in the comments section below!