Writing a newsletter that people love to read
Writing a newsletter. UGH!
Everyone talks about how absolutely critically, crucially, indescribably important it is to write a newsletter.
Newsletters for business are, like, a whole thing.
People talk about how you need to “stay top of mind,” or throw out some statistic about the ROI of email marketing. And they might start talking about the pros and cons of different newsletter tools.
The worst thing is…you believe them. But actually sending a newsletter can be a lot of work.
Putting out a weekly newsletter—or even a monthly newsletter—is a commitment. It’s a commitment to sending emails consistently, no matter what else is going on in your business.
What if you already have a newsletter? Well, those email marketing statistics that talk about getting back $40 for every $1 you spend might seem a little outlandish.
Let’s make it seem more inlandish (…sorry).
The truth is, a newsletter is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stay in touch with your audience. Newsletter marketing is powerful—and there are some businesses that only sell with newsletters!
What you can expect from your sales funnel

Roughly how some online businesses get email subscribers and sell with email (Source, SixFigureIdeas)

But there are also a lot of hurdles to leap along the path to creating a good newsletter.
A lot of questions. Like:

  • What should you send in a newsletter?
  • How often should you email your subscribers?
  • What should your email newsletter design look like?
  • What email newsletter tool should you use?

There are a lot of questions like these, and it’s hard to answer them all at once. But you can’t really choose a newsletter design without also deciding on your newsletter content. And you can’t send a newsletter at all unless you have the right email tool.
So you really do need to answer these questions before you can send a newsletter.
Plus, you want your newsletter to be, like, good right?
an example of a bad newsletter opt-in form

If most newsletters were honest. This isn’t your goal.

In this article, we’ll cover the 4 steps—just 4—you need to take to start sending your newsletters. And make them so good that people can’t wait to read them.
Here are the 4 steps to writing a newsletter.

  1. Decide what your newsletter is used for
  2. Create a consistent newsletter format to follow
  3. Know what to put in your newsletter
  4. Use the right email newsletter tool

Step one: Decide what your newsletter is used for

It’s one thing to think “I should really send a newsletter.” It’s another to actually send it.
All of those questions I brought up a moment ago? They’re probably looming large in your head right now. Questions about what time to send a newsletter, or how often, or what content to include are tough to answer…
…unless you follow step one.
The most important step of writing a newsletter is deciding what you want your newsletter to accomplish.
attribution and a goal timeline

Conversions are one of the most common newsletter goals. Here are a few of the steps that could lead up to a conversion. 

If you know the goals of your newsletter, a lot of the other questions just kind of answer themselves.
After all, if your goal is to send people to blog posts you’ve written—you’d better have a format that encourages people to click.
If your goal is to get people to buy products—you’d better be able to time your messages for the moments people are ready to buy.
As it turns out, there are a lot of different goals a newsletter can accomplish. Deciding on your goals is step one.

Why are newsletters important?

One of the most important parts of marketing is staying connected to your audience. Newsletters are an important marketing tool because they help you maintain regular contact with your audience.
Making sure your audience thinks about you every so often (so that you stay “top-of-mind”) is a broad benefit of newsletters.
The general idea is that members of your audience don’t necessarily need what you offer right now—but if you can be in their head when a need springs up, they’re more likely to choose you over your competitors.
skeleton with an arrow pointing at its head

Top of mind—right where you want to be

One of the key benefits of writing a newsletter (compared to say, Tweeting, writing Facebook Ads, or being on other social media) is that you communicate directly with people in your audience.
You land in someone’s inbox. It’s the closest you can get to one-on-one communication while also reaching a lot of people at the same time.
Email is also a platform you own.
Facebook is a huge referrer of traffic to your website. But as the social media giant changes the rules of the news feed, businesses have taken huge hits in traffic.
An email list is yours. Your subscribers won’t disappear overnight because some other company has chosen to change the way they display your content. You own your list, and you can take it with you wherever your marketing goes.
That’s why an email newsletter is a such a great way to stay in front of your audience.

Customer journey path

People don’t always buy right away. A newsletter is a way to stay in front of them while they make the trip from A to B. 

That said, there are a few other newsletter goals that you might have. Here are a few examples of newsletter goals:

    • Get more traffic to your blog posts
    • Get people to share your blog posts and link to them
    • Keep existing customers happy to improve retention (and get referrals)
    • Make announcements about changes to your business
    • Showcase your products and get more sales
  • Promote events and other activities

Can you see how you might want to send different types of newsletters for each of those goals?
Ecommerce companies are often announcing sales or new products in their newsletters.
Tech companies announce new features, or try to retain their customers better.
Author Ryan Holiday doesn’t sell with his newsletter—but he does call it his most valuable career asset. By building an audience of people interested in his work, he has a platform to promote his new work—which helps him reach greater and greater heights.
Picture of an audience getting confetti dumped on them

If you already have an audience, it’s easier to promote anything you create

Robert Rose, co-founder of The Content Marketing Institute, argues that this is exactly why content marketing is so important.

Creating a newsletter gives you access to a “subscribed audience.”
That’s a group of people that have signed up because they’re interested in what you have to say. It’s a group of people that has the potential to be your best customers.
As Rose argues, this is the best way to look at the ROI of creating content. “Look at how subscribed audiences behave differently than others you might be marketing to through other means.”
A lot of the time in business, it feels like your work goes unnoticed.
The worst feeling in world is to dedicate hours and hours of your life to something and get silence when you finally put it out there for people to see.
Building a subscribed audience prevents that. Writing a newsletter prevents that.
That’s why writing a newsletter is important. And it’s why deciding on your newsletter goals is step one.

Step two: Create a consistent newsletter format to follow

Should you go short, or long? Should you have a call to action? What should that call to action be?
If you’re sharing content, should you share one piece of content or several? Should you have a lot of copy, or as little copy as possible?
When it comes to email newsletter design, you can choose basically anything you want. There are as many types of newsletters as there are businesses.
Of course, that kind of choice can be paralyzing.
If you have no idea what to do for your email newsletter design, take a look back at your goals. What exactly is it you’re trying to accomplish?