As of now, it seems like every business has their own email newsletter (‘e-newsletter’ as the cool kids say): fashion, tech, news, food, you name it. While seeming like fun and games, newsletters play a key role for any e-commerce store: showcasing expertise and building trust with prospective customers and partners. A recent study by BigCommerce found that customers with strong attachments to a particular business spent 23% more than the average customers. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you start your own.Starting an Email Subscription Newsletter is easy:
- Find a trustworthy email marketing service provider (find recommendations below)
- Sign up and customize your template so it looks polished and branded
- Build your audience by adding to your email list
- Craft awesome content
- Send it out!
Easy said, but building an e-newsletter subscription that stands out requires quite a bit of practice.
There’s no exact secret formula, but we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you navigate that process. In this post, we’ll explain what makes a successful newsletter, why you need one, what content to include, how to gain an audience, which email service provider to use, and tips & tricks to blast your numbers through the roof.
Getting Started: What is an Email Subscription and an Email Newsletter?
An e-newsletter is a type of email subscription—specifically, it’s a type of relational campaign. Relational campaigns are emails that build trust and educate your audience via quality content. Other types include the classic welcome email (arguably the most important; your brand’s first impression plays a key role in encouraging ongoing engagement), the standard promotional email, the emails sent after your customers do something and the ‘I miss you’ email when customers leave your site. These are transactional campaigns as they are usually triggered by an action of your audience and/or leads your audience to your site.
Depending on your business, you may run different types of campaigns. The smartest ones do a bit of both. In particular, creating an engaging newsletter can be tricky; but, with the right start, you’ll quickly conquer the game. Read on to learn how you create a world-class newsletter in no time.
Why should you have an Email Newsletter?
Simply said, it’s one of the best tools to attract and gain long-term customers. By creating value for your audience, they become more attached and trusting towards you and your brand. Done right, it leads to an expanding web of free referrals. This is your chance to stand out as a brand and communicate your company culture. At the same time, this is your chance to find the customers who share the same values and will most likely spread the word. Ok, so then this leads to…
What content should you include in an Email Newsletter?
That’s a toughie. Again, there is no secret formula and everyone’s content will differ based on what and how they communicate. What an audience is looking for is consistent content that conveys your persona and connects to their interests and/or values. That can be hard to pin down, but you got it! No newsletter starts with all the goods. Just like how no pizza instantly turns from nothing to ooey-gooey goodness. If you already know what you want to create, that’s awesome. If not, here’s a guide to help you start brainstorming:
1.) The Dough, Your Goals: Why are you making an e-newsletter?
The most obvious answer is to grow your audience and turn one-time viewers into long-term readers. Perhaps, you might have other more specific goals. Either way, having a clear explicit goal serves as a way to measure your success. If you seek to grow an audience, you might measure the number of subscribers over time or your weekly conversion rates (percentage of new readers who turn into subscribers). The key is to align your success criteria with your goal for the newsletter.
2.) The Sauce, Your Audience: Who do you want to read your e-newsletter?
Now that you have a goal, it’s time to determine who your newsletter is targeted to. Two things should be considered: their demographic (age, gender, job) and psychographics (attitude, beliefs, values, and interests). By knowing this, you’ll have a clearer idea of what content to provide. The more your content aligns with the interest or values of your audience, the more likely they will connect and engage in word of mouth (WoM) advertising. Your audience might have a wide range of interests, and that’s ok. There’s a reason why most e-newsletters have multiple categorized content (e.g. a wellness section, a top news section, an opinion piece section, etc.). However, your content needs to be consistent and relate to a common theme. A good way to begin might be mapping out the personality of someone who you want to read your e-newsletter. For example, say I want Elon Musk to read mine. He’s bold, ballsy, into innovative technology and out-of-the-world concepts and likes seeing big changes being made. Ok, then my newsletter will include stories about new scientific discoveries and disrupting technologies that have the potential to improve our world enormously (with a mini ‘bullshit news of the day’ section because it feels like Musk might enjoy that type of thing (: ).
3.) The Toppings, Your Finesse: How will you create a bond with your audience?
Be authentic. This part is all about small details. Getting the tone, images, structure, and length right can be what determines if your reader only reads the title or the entire post. Whatever you do, be sure to convey your personality quickly and simply. Your audience will find more connection when they actually get to know you. Engage in a conversation with them and be a friend or advisor. Show them your charisma and make them feel included.
Voila! You have your pizza. Now all you have to do is bake it by producing the content and sending it out. Which leads to…
How do you gain an audience for your Email Newsletter?
Share, share, and share. Getting the first one-hundred subscribers is the hardest part. The most effective way to get people to sign up is to personally invite them. Approach potential subscribers as someone who respects them and wants to share something you think they might enjoy/find useful. Rather than assuming they will sign up, send a personal message asking if they would want to be a part of it. This way, they have a choice and are more open to hearing what you have to offer.
After you get the initial audience and assuming your content is bomb, the word-of-mouth effect should naturally help you gain additional subscribers. However, to accelerate that, you can implement some tactics. First, directly contact readers to solicit feedback. Everyone loves to be considered special. By showing them you care, it will not only provide you a great opportunity to improve your content but also build trust. As such, they would be happier to share your e-newsletter with their peers. Second, create a referral program. A great example is The Morning Brew’s referral system: for every new user who subscribes from a link you share, you gain points that can get you a sticker, then a cup, then a shirt, and way more branded goodies. Giving merch to your subscribers from simply sharing is a fun way to get people excited. Third, always include embedded social media links for one-click sharing. Making it easy for your audience to share on social increases the chance that they actually do; hence, generating more virality for your piece ;).
That being said, the most important factors in growing your newsletter are the quality and relevance of your content.
Which Email Subscription Service Provider is best for E-Newsletters?
This is where you have the benefit of being able to choose from a plethora of options. After scavenging the web, we gathered a list of service providers that we would recommend.Ease of Use & Aesthetics:
- Moosend: Simple – it covers all the basics.
- MailerLite: Well-rounded – it offers great value for the money and is perfect for beginners and personal projects
- Benchmark: Convenient personalized email crafting with many template designs
- Omnisend: With a focus on e-commerce, they have developed a platform with tools extremely useful for online stores
- MailChimp: By far the most popular service provider for eCommerce due to its simplicity and strong feature set.
- Sender: Provides a great free or low-priced service that has all-rounded features
- ActiveCampaign: Easy to use and good for visual organizers
- Sendinblue: Crafts detailed automated emails/SMS, specially tailored for transactional email services
- AutoPilot: Great for brands focused on automatic individual emails rather than bulk mailing
- HubSpot: One of the most advanced marketing service providers that offer insights many may not be able to but beware of the price
- Rejoiner: Extreme pricing but for a service like no other—they help you manage your email marketing
- Drip: Powerful for advanced marketers who need more specialized organization and automation
Tips and tricks to grow your Email Newsletter Audience
We’ve done the hard work for you and compiled the key tips and tricks to help you excel and achieve mastery sooner:The Research:
- Always have your audience in mind
- Think about their journey (what brought them to your e-newsletter, when do they look at it, what are they doing, etc.)
- Talk to someone who fits your target audience and interrogate them (don’t actually interrogate; have a conversation asking them about their experience with previous e-newsletters)
- Reach your audience through valuable content rather than being a salesman
- Have a well-designed email opt-in page that sells your personality; don’t just write “sign up for my email list for a chance to…” When done right, your audience should want to sign up for the content and not for any bribing (we’ll have resources below ϑ )
- Be aesthetic, simple and direct
- Be as clear as you can
- Use keywords and key phrases when possible
- Be consistent in your writing style and tone
- Avoid jargon unless you’re writing to a highly technical audience who knows their stuff
- Emphasize with your audience (i.e. don’t be an ass)
- Be a friend who gives advice and shares interesting things, and not an overly confident expert
- Have a subject line (the title of the email) that draws curiosity and is impossible to open
- Start with a quick introduction and an overview of what’s included
- Split different content into clear sections with their own title
- Pick colors and images that align with your branding and vibes
- Avoid photos that look like stock images
- Use readable fonts and simple layouts
- Simple is better than a complex structure
- Always include a feature where customers can display their opinion about the piece, so they feel included and heard (like/dislike buttons, surveys, comments, etc.)
- Always include links to their socials so they can easily share it [KEY]
- Remember to have basic elements like about us, contact info, social accounts, and other links if your readers ever want to learn more
- Look at your metrics to understand what audiences like reading and what they don’t (notice our sneaky plug)
- Ask your audience every now and then for a conversation regarding
- Devise strategies to increase post sharing (e.g. user referral schemes)
- Never stop trying to improve your e-newsletter; it’s never too late to update your previous content, adjust your current ones and try new things
Resources we found most useful when researchingGuides to help you make sense of things:
- A charismatic essay explaining the basics of writing something people would actually want to read
- A no bs guide for helping you attract an audiencefrom nothing
- Quick well-rounded guides for effective communication and creating e-newsletter content
- Step-by-step guide for operating a typical email service platform
- Inbound Marketing which explains why content is so powerful
- Muse by Clio, great at creating fun unique content on advertising and pop culture
- The Morning Brew, a popular email newsletter for a good reason
- Hubspot, our go-to platform for marketing insights and skills
- A Better Lemonade Stand, an e-commerce blog tackling every how-to a new entrepreneur may need
- HoneyCopy, a blog about how to write with a unique personality
If you’re wondering why we decided to write this blog, you are right to wonder. Over the next few weeks, we will be launching our very own newsletter discussing all things e-commerce for small or growing e-commerce brands and the agencies that support them. We’re documenting our journey throughout the way in hopes that you can learn with us. So, if you are interested in following along, insert your email in the box below and let’s embrace this journey together. Let’s do this!