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Have you heard yet that you should start an email newsletter? It’s kind of everywhere right now. And for good reason.

If you were around last week, you heard my simple 2 point answer for why this is. It’s not rocket science but it’s kind of super important. And it shouldn’t suck. But you get that. That’s why you’re here this week. And THIS week, my friends, we’re talking about HOW to create a newsletter. If you don’t have en email marketing strategy (aka a newsletter) yet, this article is for you. If you DO have one on the go already, be it successful or in temporary hibernation (like bears… which are super awesome, they just need to wake up), this article is also for you.

How to Create a Newsletter that Doesn't Suck  - PeppercornCreative.com | website design agency and blog & business mentor in Vancouver BCSo to those of you who are just starting on your path to email campaign awesome-sauce: Even if you don’t start mailing right away, collecting email addresses for when you’re ready to begin – and following the outline in this blog post – is paramount to reaching your audience ICSHTF.

….In case shit hits the fan.

And let’s be honest, at some point, shit will hit the fan. What kind of shit? The kind that we talked about last week for why you need an email newsletter.

To those of you who are already operating at peak performance (or are somewhere between chowing down happily on bear berries and campground campers lunches) with your email campaign awesome-sauce: This blog post may highlight some important and super helpful information to help you target and reach more people with your current activities which = beariffictown, population you.

So let’s start at the beginning (like there’s anywhere else to begin) and get into the ins and outs of what to do, which service you should use and how often. Here is how to create a newsletter. In 6 points.

1. Define your goal for your newsletter as a tool of a broader online media plan.

As with your blog/website, social media accounts, podcast or any other aspect of your online strategy, your newsletter should be an integrate part of your “online sociability signature”.

That is, thoughtful, planned, branded, present, in your voice and at the very least, provide added value for your audience that they can’t get anywhere else. It’s all part of a larger “social strategy” that gives your readership something of value – be it entertainment, useful information or leadership.

Deciding on your larger social goals as well as those that are specific to your newsletter will help you do just that, as well as organize the frequency of your mailings (we’ll get to that in a second), the layout of your newsletter and the type of content you want to include.

So to define your newsletter goals, let’s get crazy. I’m talkin balls to the walls nuts. Take off your pants, jump up and down and breathe. Get some air in all parts of you. Now, say out loud: In a perfect world, if all the stars aligned and I never had to wear pants again, my newsletter would ______________.

Tweet: ” In a perfect world if all the stars aligned & I never had to wear pants again I would…”Tweet:
Click to tweet your response!

Get specific. As specific as you can. Okay, so now how do you get there?

2. Choose a Service

Like blogging, there are multiple platforms on which to host your newsletter. Each one has valid pros and cons so here are the three biggies (not smalls or the kind that makes bacon):

  1. Mailchimp;
  2. Aweber;
  3. Constant Contact.

Based on your goals from point numero uno, you can select whichever platform that’s best suited to your needs.

Small side note (and free super valuable social consultation insight): My recommendation to my clients – more often than not – is to use MailChimp. I love its easy to ready analytics, user-friendly layouts and the tutorials and support they provide. Plus they look awesome and you can easily brand it from head to toe. Or in the case of newsletter layouts, header to footer.

3. Select a layout.

Choosing a layout – be it a pre-existing template or a unique to your brand custom one – will help you create and curate the content you want to include on a consistent basis, thereby making your life so much easier. The only thing worse than trying to create a fantastic, shiny and amazing newsletter without a plan, is trying to create a fantastic, shiny and amazing newsletter without a plan, while getting eaten by bears.

Ouch, right?

There are simple ways to do this. You can create your own templates in MailChimp via their drag/drop editor or hire someone to do it for you. You can also fully customize all pages, forms, etc… for a fully branded, totally unique layout newsletter experience.

Which is much better than getting eaten by bears.

4. Decide on frequency.

This is a big one. And my answer to my clients is this: How often do YOU like to receive newsletters? Hourly? (Hells no). Daily? (Maybe, but it’s a lot to keep up with. So let’s say, unlikely.) Weekly? Bi-Weekly? Heck yeah! Monthly? Sure! You get the idea.

You want to be visible often enough in your subscribers inboxes that they remember you, but not so often that they either get annoyed and unsubscribe or can’t be bothered to read your eight billion emails and just delete you.

Think about it like this: Someone was gracious enough to invite you into their online home. Don’t wear out your welcome, but make sure they don’t forget about you in the basement either.

5. Get it online.

Now schedule the crap outta that shit. Mark your newsletter as a firm appointment in your iCal, Evernote, Moleskine agenda or however you organize your time and keep it. Not only will people come to expect and anticipate this content from you, but it ensures that shit gets done. From curation to creation to mailing and engagement & promotion, add your newsletter tasks and to-do’s into your calendar (with notifications!)

For your website & blog:

You want people to sign up? Obviously, right? Or what’s the point of all this newsletter bull-hockey? Customize, integrate and brand sign up forms, pages and encourage conversions (aka results) by offering something special for signing up.
You will also want to integrate specific conversion tools to increase the visibility and probability of people electing to opt in to your newsletter. The same goes for your social media platforms. Speaking of which…

For your social media platforms:

Include the newsletter sign up page, link or the simple fact that you have one on EVERY social media platform you have. Make sure it’s well known, visible and promoted when you send out a mailing. I get a whack of new subscribers every time I do a campaign because I let people see it who haven’t signed up.

Sure, secrecy and “you must sign up to know what you’ll get” manipulations can see conversions too. But it’s my experience and that of my successful clients that transparency, inclusion and honesty produce far better results and see more long term subscribers, sales and loyalty than cheap shot, one off, bridge burning shenanigans.

Lastly, for your email signature:

Make sure it’s there. Along with your social platforms and website. It’s the easiest and most frequent way to promote your sites and accounts without interrupting people on social networks to say “Hey! Look at this”. Be classier than that; Put it in your signature.

6. Execute the shit outta that thing and rock. your. audience’s. world.

…Does this really need explaining? Don’t make me send the bears after you.

What do you think? Feel like you can at least start a newsletter or maybe enhance the one you already have? Next week in our 4 week series on starting a newsletter that doesn’t suck, we’re getting into the nitty gritty of what you should include in your newsletter and of course, what NOT to include. And we all love a good bitch fest, so come back for that. Megyn – that’ll include your answer girl.

…I’m not entirely sure where the bear analogy began and when it may have derailed so for that, I apologize. I’m sure we can all agree on two things though: You now know how to start an email newsletter that doesn’t suck. And bears are wicked cool.

Do you have a newsletter right now? Planning on starting one? What aspects of this 6 point system do you feel confident in? Which need more clarification? What’s the scariest thing about starting your newsletter? The most exciting? In a perfect world (with no pants), what would your newsletter do for you? Please share your thoughts below and I promise to respond personally.

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2 Comments on How to Create A Newsletter that Doesn’t Suck (part 2 of 4)

  1. suzy
    August 17, 2014 at 2:17 pm (3 years ago)

    I started an eletter (my cutesy term for email meets newsletter) a few months ago. I actually have been using madmimi, which you didn’t mention. I love it. I don’t think they offer quite as much as mailchimp, but it is so super user friendly with awesome customer service. And for someone small like me who is a part time blogger, I need something simple.

    Can’t wait for your next installments.

    Reply
    • Kristy Gardner
      August 19, 2014 at 2:58 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Suzy! I love it! “ELetter!!!” Brilliant (but I’d expect no less from you).

      I didn’t mention MadMimi but I’m glad to hear it’s working well for you. I’ll have to take a closer look at it and perhaps include it in another article sometime. I know there’s plenty of other services out there other than MailChimp or Aweber or Constant Contact – I just named the biggest 3.

      I agree with wanting something simple. As someone who runs this blog as well as the food blog, I don’t have time to code and play around with a billion different options every time I send a mailing. So I totally get that 🙂 Am I on your mailing list?!!

      …Must rectify that immediemente.

      Reply

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