Creating a monthly newsletter is easier said than done. A great newsletter requires focus, strategy, consistency, determination, and a whole lot of other heavy-sounding adjectives. It can feel overwhelming to even the most battle-hardened marketing executive.
In this post, we’ll go through a simple, easy-to-follow process to creating your first monthly newsletter. No matter what your website or business is about, you can learn to create a great newsletter. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Decide on a Topic
What is the purpose of your newsletter? What function does it serve? It’s important to define the exact nature of your newsletter, as a grab-bag of randomness generally isn’t the best recipe for success.
The goal is to boil down the essence of your newsletter into one sentence. This is mostly so that you can easily pitch new potential subscribers, but it will also help you frame and craft the newsletter itself.
Here on the MailPoet blog, our “elevator pitch” is simple and straightforward:
We send out a nifty newsletter with original content, coupons, and tips once a month. Don’t miss out.
If we break this tagline down, we’ll see that it essentially consists of two basic selling points: learn stuff + save money. It’s as simple as that.
Try to boil your newsletter (and its elevator pitch) down to a similar number of simple selling points. Why should subscribers sign up to your newsletter? “Just because…” isn’t a good reason – you need to convince them that you’re worth occupying the valuable real estate in their inbox.
Some common examples of monthly content to include in your newsletter around are:
- Company news and developments. What’s new at YourCo? Do you have a new product? Don’t be afraid to include funny or irrelevant factoids; got an awesome new office chair? Show it off.
- Industry events and happenings. What’s new in your industry? Add your expert insight and opinion. For example, if you’re in the WordPress space, consider talking about the WordCamp events happening near you.
- New features and products. What have you been working on? What new products do you have for sale? What new features can your users now take advantage of? Cover a new feature in-depth every month.
- New employees, partnerships, or other relationships. Is there someone new in your (company’s) life? Introduce them and add a human element. Here at MailPoet, we like to announce new team members by adding them to our Team page (and giving them a shout-out in the newsletter!)
- Product reviews. Have an eCommerce website? Review the best (or worst) product of the month.
- Educational content about your topic. Running a wine store? Try explaining a new wine term (What is a sommelier?) every month.
The list really is endless. The important thing is to keep your audience in mind – if your newsletter is about dogs, don’t include cat pictures! It’s alright to add some funny facts and trivia here and there, but always keep your newsletter focused on the core elevator pitch that we mentioned above.
Being authentic is also critical. Your readers can tell when you’re just “winging it” and pretending to be interested in the topic. Need some tips on conveying authenticity?
Luckily, being authentic is pretty easy. All you need to do is understand your customers and make interesting, relevant content. When you are a master of your topic, authentic content will practically write itself.
We’re quoting ourselves, from Authenticity, or How to Write Genuine Content
Step 2: Decide on a Frequency
In our last post, we talked about deciding on the optimal newsletter frequency. I highly recommend reading it in full, but in short – when in doubt, stick to a once-per-month format. If you have enough great content to warrant a weekly newsletter, then consider it, but carefully.
A monthly newsletter allows you to be comprehensive. Rather than sending a short daily or weekly newsletter, you can send a monthly newsletter filled-to-the-brim with good content, interesting links, and other useful goodies. Instead of skimming through your newsletter, your readers will look forward to it – after all, it only comes once a month.
A month-long cycle is also ideal for the beginning email-marketer, as it is frequent enough to force action (deadlines!) but long enough to allow for mistakes and experimentation. If you’re like most MailPoet users, you’ve got a lot on your plate – so be realistic about your timelines.
Step 3: Design and Refine
Now that you’ve chosen a topic and a frequency, it’s time to design your newsletter. Try to keep the format as consistent as possible – don’t send a newsletter filled with images one month, then send a text-only newsletter the following month. While limiting yourself to a specific format may seem like a handicap, it will actually help you to be more creative:
You’d think an open, rule-free zone would help goose the juices. Experts say in actuality, imposing restrictions is more likely to encourage creativity.
By keeping your newsletter design relatively static, you’ll be able to experiment with content – the truly important part of your newsletter. We do this ourselves on the MailPoet blog and in the MailPoet Newsletter. While the format is fairly static, we often experiment with different types of content, links, and other goodies.
Step 4: Be Consistent
It goes without saying that consistency is critical. A newsletter that goes out every “once in a while” isn’t exactly a “monthly” newsletter, now is it?
Brands are built through the consistent delivery of the brand promise through all stakeholder touch points. It is the consistent, desired experience that builds trust and trust is the foundation for loyalty and promotion.
More specifically, consistency is key to building and maintaining your brand. If you promise a monthly newsletter filled with great content and discounts but don’t deliver, your readers will lose faith in you. They’ll start to doubt whether you’re capable of keeping the promises that you’ve made about your products, services, and more.
With the backbone of your brand ready, you can begin implementing it on all aspects of your product’s ecosystem. And this you must! From your WordPress website designing and wording to blog posts, newsletters, publications, Social Media posts, and all interactions. It’s a holistic approach governed by consistency. When performed and executed correctly it earns your product a recognised spot in the marketplace, establishing its identity and its authority.
Step 5: Respond and React
The work doesn’t stop once you’ve created and sent your first few newsletters. Do your readers like some posts more than others? Do they comment on particular posts while ignore others? Do certain headlines get high click-rates, while others are barely clicked at all?
Feedback guides and informs your decision-making and influences your product roadmap. It’s also essential for measuring customer satisfaction among your current customers. Getting a handle on how customers view your product, support, and company is invaluable.
Over time, the goals of your newsletter may change – and you’ll need to be flexible about adjusting the format and content your newsletter to match their expectations. Don’t be afraid to conduct small experiments and always be open to suggestions, comments, and feedback. Make sure that your reply-to address (found on the MailPoet > Settings > Basics page) is accurate and monitored. In fact, you should directly ask your readers what they think. What do they like? What do they dislike? Be sure to take notes!
Above all, don’t be dogmatic about the content of your blog and newsletter. It’s easy to think of your blog as “your baby” and to subconsciously reject all criticism. Getting past this automatic rejection is often the key to creating an awesome newsletter.
Step 6: Profit!
One final thing to keep in mind: it’s critical to balance sales pitches and informational content. A newsletter full of content (but no sales pitches) won’t make you any money, while a newsletter full of pitches (but no content) won’t get you any readers.
Chances are, your email newsletter subscribers don’t want to hear about your products and services 100% of the time. While they may love you and want to hear from you, there’s only so much shilling you can do before they tune out.
Generally speaking, you should aim at having 80-90% of your content being educational and 10-20% being sales-driven. This can play out in an individual email (80% of the email being content and 20% being a pitch) or to your email newsletter sending in general (80% of your emails being about content, 20% of your emails being about pitches.)
At the end of the day, your newsletter should be focused on providing value, whether through content or products.
How did you create your first monthly newsletter? What was your experience – did it go well? Or did you make mistake after mistake? What do you wish you did differently? Let us know in the comments!