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Did you know email marketing drives a reported 4,400% ROI?
Believe it. Email is low-cost and direct. If people are on your email list, it’s because they want to hear from you.
So, give them what they want with an irresistible email newsletter.
With strategic planning, a consistent schedule, and sharp curatorial and copywriting skills, any marketer can create one that drives results.
Follow along with this step-by-step process to get started.
For our purposes, they’re informative emails sharing your latest news and announcements. That could include blog articles, curated content, events, sales, or anything else you have to share. We’ll further define these as emails delivered on a set schedule that your audience can expect.
Generally, in one of three ways:
No matter how you prefer to build your emails, there’s no shortage of them on the Web. Here’s a roundup of places where you can find free templates:
Here’s info on free templates for some popular ESPs:
If your business uses any of the above ESPs, too, there’s some great news. You can plan and schedule all your marketing newsletters in CoSchedule.
With Email Marketing from CoSchedule, you can:
We certainly can. Let’s take a look at a few.
Lifehacker regularly sends an excellent newsletter rounding up their latest how-to guides and advice:
Each newsletter leads off with a primary story that’s typically tied in directly to the email’s subject line. Then, they include smaller content blocks broken up with an ad on the right side:
Next, there’s a sponsored story (which makes sense given Lifehacker’s propensity to feature products):
Planning this email would require:
This email newsletter is also sent one per day. That makes sense too given their high daily publishing frequency.
Emerging Prairie is a local tech and entrepreneurship organization located in Fargo, ND (one of two cities CoSchedule calls home).
Their email newsletter is straightforward, once again leading with an article that’s teased by the subject line:
Notice they also have three sharing links in the upper right, plus an upcoming events list in a right-hand navigation bar.
Then, the layout of this email continues with a simple format, listing more articles discussing events and news from the area:
Planning this newsletter would require:
Zapier is a cool service that connects apps together to automate tasks and workflows (and happens to integrate with CoSchedule).
The first story in this newsletter is a how-to article from their blog:
Standard stuff so far. Next up, they’ve got a customer story (third-party endorsements for your product like this are great):
That’s followed with more, similar helpful articles. But, then, they list a roundup of new features they’ve added to their product:
Plus, there’s a further roundup of pieces their community has written:
And it’s all wrapped up with their latest job listings (which, for a global company, is a smart recruiting move):
So, there’s a lot going on in this email. Planning something like this requires:
This newsletter is sent out daily as well.
Alright, now let’s get down to brass tacks. Here’s everything you’ll need to get together to plan, organize, and execute effective email marketing newsletters.
First off, ask why you’re creating a newsletter.
Setting goals before you’ve sent any emails can be tough because everything is a guess at this point. So, start by figuring out a few things:
If you have no existing email marketing performance data to compare your newsletters against, then treat these as though they’re somewhat fluid at first. In either case, having some benchmarks to compare performance against can help you set reasonable expectations.
Use the following data from MailChimp to figure out email benchmarks based on industry and company size:
Plus, here are some average campaign stats (once again from MailChimp):
So, using these numbers as a guide, set some targets for the following:
Email Marketing Metrics:
Your content as a whole likely fits some type of theme.
That’s probably something to do with what your content helps readers achieve. For a car parts company, you might create and share content around customization or DIY auto repair. A clothing store might share fashion trends and tips.
With your newsletter, try sticking to a general area of interest for your readers. That should extend to curated content you include, too.
For CoSchedule, we create marketing calendar software that helps teams get organized, all in one place. So, everything we publish (whether it’s a blog post, social content, webinars, courses, and yes, email) helps marketers do better work and achieve their goals.
Now, you’ll need to figure out what content you’ll share via your email newsletter. This might vary depending on what types of content you create elsewhere (like your blog or website).
Here are some common things you might see in a brand’s newsletter:
Based on your overall content marketing strategy, list how many of which content types you’ll include in each newsletter.
How often you should send email is something up for debate.
Something you definitely need to consider, though, is how often you’re sending emails overall. Then, you’ll need to determine how often you’ll deliver your newsletter.
CoSchedule sends a newsletter once a week that rounds up all our latest content:
Plus, there are several product-related emails that go out through the week:
Now, keep in mind that if someone on your list signs up for weekly newsletters, they might also get daily updates from you, too. This makes two things important:
It’s also helpful to know the best days to send email:
And the best times:
Now, these are averages based on data and research. Experiment to find your ideal timing.
Next, plan out your email newsletters ahead of time. There are two ways to do this:
Let’s start with your free template. Here, you’ll see an Excel sheet:
For each email, you’ll see the following fields:
Plot out newsletters as far ahead as you reasonably can.
You can also do this with CoSchedule.
Create a custom content type for Email Marketing:
Then, select a day on your calendar, and choose the Email Marketing content type:
Next, give each email newsletter a name. Use the Description field to make note of the target audience, buying season, and which email segments it should go to. Add the tag “newsletter” (or any tag you’d like) to denote this is a newsletter (rather than another type of email):
Next, add the owner from the list of CoSchedule users in your account, and set the date and time:
You can also use color labels to add more organizational power to your calendar. These can be sorted by team, or completion status:
Now, you’ll be able to plan, schedule, and manage all your email newsletters on one marketing calendar, alongside every other project and campaign you’re working on:
The design of your email will, to some extent, dictate how much content you can include.
If your template has a fixed design calling for three lead stories, two pieces of curated content, a and a sponsored post, then each newsletter you send will have to check each of those boxes.
However, if you use a more fluid single-column design where you can list as many or few articles as you’d like, then you have more flexibility.
Even as a marketer or copywriter, it’s useful to know the following, too:
So, let’s take an example template from MailChimp:
This is a simple template with a header logo, one lead story, and two content blocks. To fill this out, I’ll need:
Knowing this, you would then know that each newsletter will need, at a minimum, each of these elements.
Now we’re ready to actually put an email together.
Depending on your email content strategy, this may entail:
This much is easy … unless you work for an extremely high-volume content publisher or brand (then it may take some digging).
Review your editorial calendar and track down your past week’s worth of content. Then, prioritize your lead story based on what you think your audience will be the absolutely most interested in. To do this, try asking a few questions:
There are several ways you can surface trending content your audience might value.
First, Feedly is an excellent tool for keeping track of content. It’s a powerful RSS reader that makes it easy to follow news on most any topic or niche.
Create an account and start adding content using the + Add Content control:
Now, most folks familiar with Feedly think of it as a news aggregator. But, you can also track mentions of competitors, brands, and topic keywords in general. Create some lists around the following:
Next, set up some lists on Twitter, and to the same thing. The value of lists for personal use is up for debate, but they can be helpful for curating content:
Finally, consider using Google Trends. It shows the level of interest on a given keyword over time, and can be used to compare interest levels between multiple topics:
Using these tactics can be especially helpful if you’re not actually an expert on the product or industry your company or client operates in.
Even if you’re primarily rounding up links to include in your newsletter, you’ll still have several copy elements to write:
Let’s walk through each piece.
We’ve established why subject lines are important.
Now, how do you actually write them well? Try following a few best practices:
For the 20 most important best practices for subject lines (informed by research from tons of studies), check out Nathan Ellering’s detailed guide here.
Then, when you’re ready to write some subject lines, use the Email Subject Line Tester. It’s a free tool that makes it easy to analyze subject lines based on word choice, length, sentiment, and more:
The pre-header gives you, the intrepid email copywriter, another opportunity to catch your reader’s attention. That means another chance to get them to open your email.
Here’s an illustration from Campaign Monitor showing where you see pre-header text:
Now, it’s important to note that not every email client displays pre-header text the same way. Here’s a cheat sheet from that same Campaign Monitor post:
So, how do you make the most of this space?
Try using the pre-header as a continuation of your subject line. Each of these examples (from Microsoft, the BBC, Adobe, and Shutterfly) uses the preheader to either add context to the subject line, or shout out an additional offer:
Or, add a CTA. Here’s an example from The Economist promoting a sale on subscriptions:
Here’s how to copy this idea:
Depending on your design, you might include an intro in your newsletter.
Here’s an example of one from CoSchedule:
It’s short and leads into the first piece of content in the newsletter. Here’s another from The Verge that takes a more conversational approach:
Each piece of content in your newsletter may need a short summary. Whip up some copy that offers additional context and gets readers clicking.
One quick and easy way to get this done would be to repurpose a couple lines of intro text from each article. Or, pose a question and promise to deliver the answer in the piece:
These don’t need to be complicated.
Each article or promotion in your newsletter will likely have a button. While it may be easy to neglect button copy, it’s worth spending time trying a few different options to see what seems to get the most clicks.
Here are some common options:
At the end of your newsletter, you might add a call to action for something higher-value, as well.
There are a couple things to note here:
So, how can you create a call-to-action of your own? Here are a few ideas:
You could even consider cycling through CTAs depending on what’s most relevant for a given week.
RECOMMENDED READING: https://coschedule.com/blog/how-to-write-a-call-to-action-template/
When you’re ready to send your email, open up CoSchedule and
Click a day on your calendar and select Email Marketing:
Then, select MailChimp or another ESP:
Next, create your email and schedule the delivery time in MailChimp (or another ESP).
Now, the email will be synced on your calendar. Once the delivery date and time have been set in the ESP itself, they can be changed inside CoSchedule:
You’ll now be able to see your scheduled email alongside all your other content and campaigns on your CoSchedule marketing calendar.
As a reminder, you can also plan out and schedule email newsletters with the free email calendar we’ve included in this post:
We’ve covered a lot of ground, but by now, you should have all the information you need to rock your email newsletter planning.
Plan content and automate publishing to save tons of time now.
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