Anatomy of a Great Newsletter

  •    Freelance journalist covering women, business, policy and social good.

While there are many ways to market your small business or website, one of the most effective tools for sharing your story is through an email newsletter.

A newsletter can help you increase brand awareness, reach new customers, earn repeat business, and even present you as a thought leader in your industry.

While social media platforms are filled with businesses that are competing for attention, an e-newsletter reaches customers in their inbox where they spend the most time and give their full focus, reports Inc. Magazine.

In fact, over 70 percent of U.S. adults prefer communication with companies to happen through email, according to MarketingSherpa.

Regularly scheduled newsletters also keep your business or site at the top of readers' minds and remind them of the value you can provide.

The best way to get started is to define your message. What's your goal? Are you trying to boost sales, drive traffic to your website, or establish a new market?

Keep your core business focus in mind as you plan your newsletter content and design.

A Great Read

A newsletter should inform and engage readers with great content, rather than trying to advertise. Keep your tone friendly and casual, like you're speaking to your readers in person.

There are many different types of content that you can add to your newsletter, whether it's in the form of print, photos, podcasts, or videos.

You can include reviews of relevant products or services, share news articles or blog posts, post case studies or client testimonials, or even answer frequently asked questions from readers.

Another option is to share behind-the-scenes information about your business or site, your employees, or your local community.

It's important to offer value to your readers. One in five consumers said they read every email newsletter they receive to see if there are any offers, reports Forrester Research. At the end of your newsletter, consider providing a discount, deal, contest, or even a shout out to a loyal customer.

Don't forget to proofread your newsletter to ensure that it's error-free and easy to read.

Make it Inviting

One of the most important design requirements is optimizing your newsletter for mobile users so it looks inviting on any screen. Make your newsletter easy to read and your audience will be more likely to open it the next time it's delivered.

  • Keep your newsletter short and simple so readers can scan it quickly. Stick to just a few pieces of content that best convey your brand and your message. Subheadings, bullet points, and links can help you keep it brief: In a newsletter, less is more.
  • Your header is your first impression, and should represent your business focus in a visually appealing way. It should also invite readers in for a conversation, rather than pushing them away with a hard sell.
  • Your footer should include the basics: Contact information, platforms for sharing, and a sign-up box for first-time readers. Most important, include an easy-to-use “unsubscribe" box that assures readers that your business or site is reputable.

Ready, Set, Send

Subject lines should be short and engaging. “ABC Landscaping's Lawn Care Newsletter" is a bit boring. “Great Lawn Care Tips from ABC" is friendlier, and lets readers know how you can help.

Also use local information whenever possible: Instead of “Latest Bookstore News," try “Meet the Authors in Allentown."

No matter how often you send your newsletter, be consistent. Send each edition at the same day and time so readers grow to expect – and anticipate – your emails.

If you don't have time to send a weekly newsletter, try to send one at least every other week so that it's a regular feature in your customers' inboxes.

Be sure to include a clear call to action that is easy to find and access, and is separate from your other content. Last but not least, test your newsletter before you send it to catch any errors you may have missed.

Newsletters are a great way to engage your readers, create strong customer connections and provide value. Keep it simple – and consistent – and a newsletter can become one of your most valuable marketing tools.