If your inbox looks anything like mine, it's probably flooded with dozens of email newsletters from businesses big and small. But how many do you actually open?
Creating a newsletter that people will actually open, read, and act on isn’t easy. You need to craft content that provides value, engage your readers, and give them a reason to keep coming back. If you do it right, an email newsletter can become one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. But do it wrong, and you’ll end up with a list of people who hit delete as soon as they see your name in their inbox. (We don't want that.)
Lucky for you, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about writing a newsletter that your readers will want to read.
Let the masterclass commence!
What is a Newsletter?
A newsletter is a collection of content delivered on a regular schedule to subscribers via email. The goal of a newsletter is to build an engaged audience and convert readers into customers who can see the value in your product.
But why should you write one? Here's a good reason: according to HubSpot's State of Marketing Report, email ROI is an impressive $36 for every $1 spent. Despite being one of the world's oldest marketing strategies, email marketing remains surprisingly effective.
Whether you're a solo entrepreneur, freelancer, or running a small business, starting an email newsletter can help you gain the much needed exposure and attention from potential clients that can propel your brand to greater popularity.
7 Steps to Creating a Newsletter
Here are seven steps to crafting a newsletter that converts readers into paying customers:
1. Choose a topic & define your goals
Choosing a topic for your newsletter is the easy part. Depending on your business or industry, think about what would be useful or interesting for your subscribers. A good newsletter has a mix of content to keep your readers engaged.
Here are some ideas you can consider:
- Product updates: If you frequently release new products or services, a newsletter is a great way to announce updates and new releases. This keeps your customers in the loop.
- Industry news and updates: Share news about the latest trends, technologies or techniques in your field. This establishes you as a thought leader.
- Tips and how-to's: Teach your readers a new skill or provide advice and recommendations to help them solve problems. This showcases your expertise.
- Company announcements: Share news about upcoming events, milestones, or any other exciting developments within your organization to make your subscribers feel like valued members of your community and strengthen the connection between your brand and your audience.
- Customer success stories: Share testimonials, case studies, or interviews highlighting how your offering has positively impacted their lives or businesses. This not only serves as social proof but also inspires and motivates your readers to take action and experience similar results.
- Exclusive offers and promotions: Use your newsletter as a platform to share special discounts, limited-time promotions, or early access to new products or services. This creates a sense of urgency and exclusivity, incentivizing your readers to engage with your brand and make a purchase.
- Curated content: Curate content from reputable sources and share it in your newsletter. This could include relevant articles, blog posts, or even podcasts or videos. By providing curated content, you position yourself as a reliable source of information and keep your readers engaged and informed.
- Personal stories and behind-the-scenes glimpses: Share personal stories, anecdotes, or behind-the-scenes glimpses of your business to give your subscribers a sense of the people behind the brand. This humanizes your business and fosters a deeper connection with your readers, making them more likely to trust and support your brand.
Once you've chosen a topic for your newsletter, it's time to define your goals. What do you want to achieve with your newsletter? Who is your target audience?
Personally, I’m more fond of longer newsletters that point me to useful links or readings that could be helpful to my work. However, it’s always a good idea to not bore your readers with a bunch of irrelevant news that they might be not be particularly interested in. As a general rule of thumb, your newsletter content should focus on establishing yourself as an expert in your field of knowledge so that you can stay relevant in the eyes of your readers. Just look at how Spam by Oatly does it, despite sending content that is literally advertising their mistakes:
Here are a few common goals to consider:
- Increase brand awareness: Use your newsletter to build a strong brand presence and make your audience familiar with your products or services.
- Drive website traffic: Include links to your website or blog in your newsletter to encourage readers to visit and explore more of your content.
- Generate leads: Offer valuable resources or exclusive content in your newsletter to entice readers to provide their contact information and become leads.
- Nurture customer relationships: Use your newsletter to stay connected with your existing customers, provide them with updates, and offer special promotions or discounts.
- Establish thought leadership: Share industry insights and expertise in your newsletter to position yourself as a trusted authority in your field.
How to do it:
- To increase brand awareness, focus on creating engaging and informative content that showcases your brand's unique selling points. Share valuable insights, industry updates, and showcase success stories to capture your readers' attention and generate interest in your brand.
- To drive traffic to your website, craft content that piques your readers' curiosity and encourages them to click through to your site. Include compelling headlines, teasers, and links to relevant articles or blog posts that provide further value and information.
- To generate leads, it's essential to provide valuable resources or exclusive content that your readers can't resist. Consider offering e-books, guides, webinars, or free consultations in your newsletter. These incentives will entice readers to provide their contact information and take the first step towards becoming leads.
- To boost sales, consider incorporating promotional offers, exclusive discounts, or limited-time deals in your newsletter. Create a sense of urgency and highlight the benefits to entice readers to take action and make a purchase.
- To establish yourself as a thought leader, it's crucial to consistently provide valuable insights and expertise in your newsletter. Share industry trends, insider tips, and expert advice that demonstrates your deep knowledge and understanding of your field.
Remember, your goals should align with your overall marketing strategy and the needs of your target audience.
2. Find newsletter examples to emulate
Step 2 is simply research. If you're new to drafting newsletters, it's a good idea to comb through your email inbox and study newsletters from other businesses to see what you like. Look for examples that intrigued you and kept you reading. Look also for examples that you thought were a waste of time. Take note of the layout, length, images and calls-to-action they used (or didn't). You can then model your own newsletter after the ones that inspired you.
Below are some good examples you can seek to emulate:
3. Enlist the help of AI to write your first draft
The next order of business is to get a first draft out.
AI-generated content can provide an efficient starting point that you can then customize and refine. AI-generated content also tends to rank higher in search engines, which is a great bonus. According to HubSpot's State of Generative AI 2023 report, 95% of marketers who use generative AI for email creation rate it “effective”, with 54% rating it “very effective.”
To generate an initial draft with AI:
Gather any relevant information, data, or source material that will help shape the content. The more specific details you provide, the more targeted the AI draft will be.
Use a versatile tool like Hypotenuse AI that allows you to input enough context for the AI to work on. The AI model will then generate a draft that incorporates your specified goals and be tailored to your audience. You can even highlight specific sections and ask AI to rework it based on your commands.
Once you have the AI-generated draft, carefully review the newsletter to ensure it aligns with your brand's voice and messaging. Even the most advanced AI models make errors and lack the full context, so you'll need to refine the content by:
- Fixing any factual inaccuracies
- Adjusting the length and flow to meet your desired format
- Adding or removing details to better achieve your goals
When reviewing, add a personal touch by injecting your own insights, experiences, and anecdotes. Pay attention to the tone and structure of your email newsletter, ensuring it reflects the goals and objectives you defined earlier. You don’t want to send a newsletter that’s going to sound like any other newsletter in your readers’ inboxes.
By enlisting the help of AI, you can streamline and expedite the content creation process while still maintaining a personalized touch. The key is to stay focused and intentional in your overall messaging.
But of course, you shouldn’t just listen to what we say—we’re an AI company afterall. Try drafting a newsletter with Hypotenuse AI for yourself here.
4. Rearrange sections and curate the information
Review the first draft and reorganize or reword sections to best suit your needs. Add or remove information and details as required. Curate the content to align with your goals and ensure maximum relevance for readers.
To create an email newsletter that converts readers into customers or subscribers, you need to structure it in a way that keeps people engaged. Here are a few tips for structuring your newsletter:
Divide it into sections
Break your newsletter up into distinct sections to make it easy to navigate. You might have sections like:
- Featured story: Focus on one main article or story. Place it at the top to grab attention.
- Latest news: A bulleted list of headlines and short summaries of recent news related to your product or service.
- Tips or how-tos: A short set of useful tips or a step-by-step how-to guide.
- Promotions or deals: Any current sales, coupons, or deals you want to promote.
Put your most important, attention-grabbing content right at the top. That might be your featured story, a big announcement, or an exciting contest or giveaway. You want readers to see your best stuff first so they are excited to see more.
Pro tip: Think about your reader persona. Are they the jokey type? Or the intellectual kind? Design your newsletter according to this persona’s interests. This will help you decide whether you should start off with a joke or a serious piece of news.
5. Include helpful visuals
Images, graphics, and videos are highly engaging for readers, but you should only include visuals that directly serve your main goals for the newsletter. Resist the urge to clutter your newsletter with too many random images.
Use graphs and charts when appropriate
Graphs and charts can effectively illustrate trends, data, and statistics in an easy to understand format. Consider including:
- Bar charts to compare values or amounts.
- Line or area charts to show changes over time.
- Pie charts or donuts for part-to-whole relationships.
Make sure to:
- Use simple, clear designs that stand out from the body text.
- Label all axes and data clearly.
- Include a title that summarizes the main takeaway.
Add screenshots to demonstrate features
Screenshots can help readers visualize your products, features and workflows. You can show:
- How a feature works step-by-step through a series of screenshots.
- The layout and design of your website or app.
- How readers can access or use a specific tool or function.
When including screenshots:
- Use high resolution images that are crisp and clear.
- Add labels, circles or arrows to call out important elements.
- Include a caption that describes what the screenshot shows.
Use visuals sparingly to illustrate key points, show products, highlight quotes, or just make your newsletter more visually interesting.
Pro tip: Your visuals should also align with your reader persona. Add splashes of color and use bubbly fonts for more jokey personas. For serious company announcements, design the template to look more formal so your readers know to pay attention when it matters.
6. Add an obvious call-to-action
End your newsletter with a strong call-to-action, like signing up for your mailing list, following you on social media, or visiting your website. Give readers a specific action to take after finishing your newsletter. A good CTA can help boost conversions and get more mileage from each newsletter.
Some specific call-to-action examples:
- Sign up: Provide a clear form or link for readers to subscribe to your mailing list or notifications. Explain the benefits they'll receive by subscribing.
- Download: Offer a relevant, useful asset for readers to download. This could be an eBook, whitepaper, checklist, template, etc. related to your focus.
- Visit our website: Direct readers to a relevant page on your website where they can learn more or take the next step.
- Follow us: List your social media profiles and ask readers to follow you to stay up-to-date and be part of your community.
- Share with others: Urge readers to share the newsletter or a specific article with their network. Sharing can help expand your audience and credibility through word-of-mouth.
Place CTAs prominently at both the beginning and end of your newsletter for the best results.
7. Review, analyze and optimize
Once you have finalized your email newsletter, it is crucial to take a moment to review, analyze, and optimize it before sending it out to your subscribers. This step ensures that you deliver a polished and impactful newsletter that resonates with your audience.
Begin by double-checking for any errors or issues that may have slipped through the cracks during the creation process. Send a quick test to yourself and your colleagues for second opinions. It is always better to catch and rectify any mistakes before they reach your readers.
To gather valuable feedback on your newsletter’s performance, consider sending a test version of the newsletter to a small subset of your mailing list. Their insights can help you identify areas that need improvement and fine-tune your content accordingly. On Customer.io, you can set up an A/B test for half of your mailing list before sending the winner of the test to the remainder of your subscribers.
Around a week after distributing the final newsletter, take the time to analyze the open and click-through rates (CTR). These metrics provide valuable insights into how readers are engaging with your content. Identify sections that garnered high engagement and those that may have underperformed. This data forms the foundation for making informed decisions about optimizing your future newsletters.
A high open rate in email newsletters indicates that a significant number of subscribers are opening and viewing your content. This is a positive sign as it shows that your subject line and preview text were enticing enough to capture their attention. It also suggests that your subscribers are interested in the content you are delivering.
On average, an open rate between 20% and 30% is considered good. If your open rate surpasses this range, it suggests that your newsletter is resonating well with your subscribers. However, these numbers can fluctuate, and it's essential to compare your performance against your own historical data and industry averages.
A high CTR signifies that your newsletter's content is engaging and compelling enough to motivate readers to take action. It measures the percentage of recipients who click on links within your email, whether it's to visit your website, download a resource, or explore more of what you have to offer.
In general, a CTR of around 2-5% is also considered favorable. If your click-through rate exceeds this range, it means that your newsletter is effectively driving engagement. Conversely, if your click-through rate is below the benchmark, it may indicate a need to enhance your content or call-to-action elements to boost reader interaction. However, these numbers can fluctuate, and it's essential to compare your performance against your own historical data and industry averages.
When it comes to A/B testing, it's crucial to focus on one variable at a time. This means that while you can test as many variables as you want, it's important to test them one by one.
In each A/B test, you should have one control and one variation. Let's take an example of testing a subject line for a Christmas email:
- Control: "Send your loved ones the best gift this Christmas!"
- Variation: "Maggie, send your loved ones the best gift this Christmas!"
To conduct the test, you would send the exact same email to your audience, with 50% receiving the control subject line and the other 50% receiving the variation. By comparing the results, you can determine if the personalized subject line with an emoji had a statistically significant impact on open rates.
However, if you were to change both the subject line and the CTA in the variation, it would be difficult to determine which change had what effect. For example, if the CTR was higher in the variation, you wouldn't know if it was due to the CTA, the subject line, or both.
To address this, it's best to test multiple variables in a sequential manner:
- Test one variable against your control.
- Determine a winner based on the results, and make it the new control.
- Test a new variable against the new control, and continue the process.
By following this approach, you can isolate the impact of each variable and make informed decisions for optimizing your future newsletters.
Optimization Strategies for Higher Engagement
According to HubSpot Blog Research, the most effective strategies for email marketing campaigns are subscriber segmentation (78%), message personalization (72%), and email automation campaigns (71%).
When writing your newsletter, keep these top tips in mind to craft content that increase open rates, click-through rates, and ultimately, convert more readers into customers.
Craft compelling subject lines and preview text
The subject line of your email is the first impression you make on your subscribers. It should be attention-grabbing, concise, and relevant. Use action words or trigger emotions to entice readers to open your email. Experiment with personalization techniques, such as including the recipient's name, to make your subject lines more personalized and appealing.
Here are some simple tips you can follow:
- Use action words or trigger emotions to entice readers to open your email.
- Use personalized subject lines and greetings to address recipients by name. This simple personal touch can increase open rates by up to 20%.
- Keep subject lines under 50 characters to ensure they fit into preview panes and inboxes.
- The preview text is the short blurb that shows below the subject line in many email clients. Make this text enticing by highlighting the main benefit or call to action.
Personalize your content
Tailor your newsletters to cater to the interests and preferences of your target audience. By segmenting your mailing list and delivering targeted content, you can increase the relevance and value of your newsletters.
To start, you'll want to build audience personas based on various factors such as demographics, interests, purchase history, and other attributes. This will help you understand who your audience is and what they're interested in. Once you have these personas, you can identify the key topics and themes that would resonate most with each persona. This way, you can curate your content to match the specific needs and preferences of different segments within your audience.
As you continue to learn more about your audience over time, it's important to refine your personas and adjust your content strategy accordingly. You may even discover new niche interests within your broader audience that can be targeted with specialized content. Regularly evaluating the interests and needs of different segments will help you keep your content fresh, engaging, and actionable.
Optimize for mobile
With the majority of emails being opened on mobile devices, it's crucial to ensure your newsletter is mobile-friendly. Use a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes, and keep your formatting clean and easy to read on smaller screens. Launching a mobile-responsive email design can increase unique mobile clicks by 15% (MailChimp, 2021).
Some specific optimizations to make for mobile readers:
- Use a single column layout with ample spacing between elements. Avoid multi-column layouts as columns stack on mobile.
- Limit the line length to around 60-80 characters to make text easy to read on smaller screens.
- Make call-to-action buttons and links at least 44x44 pixels for touch targets.
- Use high-contrast colors for text and backgrounds that are legible on various device lighting conditions.
- Limit images to ones that enhance the key message. Large images can make emails take too long to load on mobile.
- Test your email on multiple device screen sizes and email apps to ensure it looks optimal for mobile readers.
Segment your email list
Not all subscribers have the same interests or needs. By segmenting your email list, you can deliver targeted content that resonates with each specific group. Consider segmenting based on demographics, purchase history, or engagement levels. This way, you can send relevant content tailored to their preferences, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversions.
Segmenting your subscriber list allows you to send more personalized and relevant email campaigns to each group. You can create segments based on factors that will influence the type of content that will appeal to each group:
- Age: young adults, parents, retirees.
- Purchase history: first-time buyers, repeat customers, high value customers.
- Engagement: subscribers who open/click certain types of emails more frequently.
From there, you should tailor your email content, offers and calls-to-action for each segment. For example, your newsletter can highlight products suitable for children and family activities for young parents in your mailing list.
Include clear and prominent CTAs
Every newsletter should have a clear CTA that prompts readers to take the desired action. Whether it's signing up for a webinar, downloading an e-book, or making a purchase, make sure your CTAs are noticeable and compelling.
Here are some tips to create effective CTAs for your newsletters:
- Make them short, clear and specific. Instead of "Click here", use "Download our ebook" or "Sign up for our webinar".
- Limit the number of CTAs to one or two per email. Having too many options can be overwhelming and reduce click-throughs.
- Use contrasting colors and eye-catching text styles. For example, a large, bold font in your brand's primary color will make the CTA stand out.
- Place your CTAs prominently in the footer or above the 'signature line' at the end of the email. These are the locations where readers' eyes naturally flow.
Pro tip: Your newsletter should be educational, not promotional. Provide useful tips, how-tos, statistics, or news they might find helpful. Readers who gain value from your newsletters will stay subscribed and become loyal customers without needing to be asked.
Newsletter FAQs: Your Top Questions Answered
You’ve put in the work to craft an engaging newsletter, but you likely still have some questions about the details. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about email newsletters.
Q: How often should I send my newsletter?
The ideal newsletter frequency depends on your audience and industry. According to Databox, 33% of marketers send weekly emails and 26% send emails multiple times per month. As a general rule of thumb:
- Send weekly newsletters for fast-paced industries like tech or retail.
- Biweekly or monthly newsletters work well for most businesses.
- Quarterly newsletters are good for nonprofits or companies in slow-changing industries.
You want to strike a balance — send often enough to stay top of mind, but not so often that you annoy your readers or run out of valuable content. Globally, Databox ****finds that ****63% of businesses reduce the frequency of emails sent to subscribers based on their levels of engagement.
So, start with a monthly or biweekly newsletter, see how your open and click rates look, then adjust from there.
Q: What's the best day/time to send my newsletter?
Your readers are more likely to open and read emails during the workweek and business hours. Globally, Campaign Monitor ****finds that Fridays see the highest email open rates (nearly 19%), compared to the lowest open rates (17%) on Saturdays.
However, you know your audience best. If many readers are students, evenings or weekends may work better. Test different days/times and see which option gets the best open and click rates.
Q: How do I get more people to subscribe to my newsletter?
Here are some proven ways to grow your newsletter list:
- Promote your newsletter on your website, blog, and in your email signature.
- Advertise your newsletter on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
- Reach out to people who sign up for your blog updates or download a resource and ask them to subscribe to your newsletter.
- Make your newsletter signup form highly visible on all of your web pages.
- Offer subscribers an incentive to share your newsletter with their friends and colleagues.
- Segment your list by interest and send targeted newsletters to different groups. Readers will appreciate the relevant content.
Continuously improving your newsletter and optimizing your signup process will lead to steady list growth over time. The most important thing is to keep your content valuable and your readers engaged.
Draft and Edit Confidently with Hypotenuse AI
So there you have it — 7 proven steps to creating an email newsletter that actually converts readers into customers or clients. Remember, building a newsletter is an ongoing process of learning and improving. Stick with it and stay consistent, and before you know it, you'll have an email newsletter that converts.
Happy newsletter writing!
Work smarter, not harder. Draft entire newsletters with Hypotenuse AI.