How to Start a Successful Email Newsletter

Don't let your messaging get lost in the spam folder. Seven steps to ensure your e-newsletter delivers value to you and your subscribers

Written by Jennifer Goldberg

Without large marketing departments or the resources to hire big ad agencies, customer communications is often a challenge for small businesses. Social media is some help, but many companies are turning to an older form of contact: email.

Last month I wrote about the rebirth of email marketing, and why you should revive your e-newsletter. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Read up on the rules

Canada’s anti-spam legislation (CASL), which took effect in 2014, introduced penalties for businesses and organizations that send electronic messages without recipients’ consent. Recipients must actively sign up for your newsletter and be offered an easy way to opt out. Do your research to make sure you’re managing your list legally.

Build your list

Include a “sign-up” button on your website, invest in a Facebook ad campaign or solicit sign-ups at your bricks-and-mortar location, if you have one. Offering incentives such as discounts or free downloadables can help encourage sign-ups.

Set goals

Consider what you want to achieve with your campaign. Goals could include increasing engagement with or traffic to content on your website, educating customers about industry news and developments, fostering brand recognition and loyalty, increasing product awareness within a certain subset of customers or collecting more information about your customers. Once you’ve got some objectives, think about what success looks like for you, and what tools you’ll use to measure that success.

Make your message count

A subscription to your newsletter is an invitation into someone’s private space. Respect that by making sure you’re delivering quality, useful information. Rather than a direct sales pitch, consider what information your recipients might find useful coming from your brand. Is it industry news, or a curated list of pertinent content from other sources? Will recipes, anecdotes or cat gifs keep people interested? Whatever content you choose to deliver, make sure it’s on brand and targeted to your recipients.

Set your tone

Develop a writing tone that represents your brand and is highly targeted to your customers. Is your brand casual and friendly or more formal and serious? Work with your team to ensure that every piece of content promoted in the newsletter reflects that tone.

Be consistent

Consistency creates a sense of familiarity for the customer. Use the same template for every newsletter and adhere to a regular delivery schedule, sending your email at the same time of day and day of the month. Test out different times and days to see when your subscribers are more likely to open and click on links.

Track metrics

It’s important to understand how your subscribers are engaging with your newsletter every time you send it. Use your newsletter tool to analyze data such as open rates, click-throughs and unsubscribes to see how you’re progressing toward your goals and decide what you could be doing differently.

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The most important thing about your newsletter campaign is that people read it. Put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes to understand what they want to read, watch and learn. With a bit of planning and measurable goals in place, you’ll start to see your newsletter subscriber lists grow and your brand will become a welcome guest in your customers’ inboxes.

Jennifer Goldberg is co-founder of Tavanberg, a Toronto-based content agency focused on helping brands connect with customers through standout storytelling.


Do you have an email newsletter? Why, or why not? Let us know by commenting below.

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