The Ultimate Newsletter Checklist

Reach your target audience with sleek and effective email marketing

It’s no secret that people these days are bombarded with information from the moment they wake up to the second they go to sleep—you are probably one of them! What’s more, in this information-saturated age it becomes more and more difficult for marketers to reach their consumer base. How can you make your messaging stand out among the noise? How can you get your target audience to listen?

While social media may be all the rage, the fact is that a traditional newsletter is still among the most effective marketing tools out there. In fact, a well-crafted newsletter is often a welcome break from the overwhelming deluge that has become social media content. Other perks to the newsletter include its easy accessibility and affordability. It’s the perfect method for reaching a large audience without spending much at all.

So how do you craft an effective and motivating newsletter? How do you get your audience to take action?

Based on our years of marketing and crowdfunding experience, our team has crafted an easy checklist that will guide you through creating stellar newsletters that will actually work.

 

Step 1: Know your readers, set your goals

Before you even begin putting together your newsletter, make sure you have answers to the following questions: Who is your audience? What are they looking for? What are your goals?

Once you have answers to those questions, all of the content that you create should be relevant to those answers. Following this general rule of thumb will help you to increase awareness, drive traffic towards your products, and ultimately encourage audience participation in your online presence.

Make sure that whatever content and information you provide advances the goals you have set for yourself but also meets your reader’s needs. It is also important to determine how to measure success and failure. Perhaps you will strive to achieve a certain open rate, click rate, or conversion rate. Follow the traction of your newsletters and adjust accordingly.

Step 2: Use A/B testing

A/B testing allows you to see what kind of content better helps you achieve the goals you set up in step one. Platforms like Mailchimp actually let you set up very effective A/B testing campaigns. You can vary elements of the newsletter such as the sender name, the subject line, general content (for example, we suggest testing an email without images because this feels more personal) and sending time.

Step 3: Selecting the best time to send

As we noted in step 2, it is important to try sending your newsletter out at different times of the day. As you monitor what times get the most interaction and traction, model your scheduling around that information. There is no point in creating content that won’t reach your target audience. A/B testing with time slots is one of the best ways to understanding how to better engage your audience.

Step 4: Pick one primary CTA

A big part of the email newsletter is the call to action, the part of your message that asks your readers to click a button, sign up, purchase, and join the club. The nature of the call to action may vary, but the point is that in wording and design the CTA must always be motivating and exciting.

The call to action remains one of the most important tools for any email marketer. That said, it is important not to overload a newsletter with CTAs. Stick with less than five within a single email but make it clear which one is the dominant and most important. You might also consider placing the primary call to action within the subject of the email.

Step 5: Include social sharing icons

So, you’ve got your reader to open your newsletter and you’ve dazzled her with some stellar content. Then what? Besides CTAs, you have to give your audience obvious and easy ways to reshare your content and help you expand your online presence. Social sharing icons are essential to this.

Make sure that every email that you send out has social media sharing icons linked to all of your most important content.

Step 6: Draft your content

As any writer will tell you, drafting is the most important part of creating content. When you are putting together the meat of your newsletter, make sure that you are keeping in mind the goals that you set up in step 1.

Newsletters should follow the same rules as all good web content:

  • Be clear
  • Be concise
  • Be readable (short paragraphs, section headers, bulleted lists)
  • Use the active voice
    • Active: The candidate believes that Congress must place a ceiling on the budget.
    • Passive: It is believed by the candidate that a ceiling must be placed on the budget by Congress.
    • Active: The dog bit the man.
    • Passive: The man was bitten by the dog.
  • Avoid Jargon

To ensure that your newsletter is relevant, update your website with new content before linking it to your email. Never bombard your followers with stale news or content, that’s a guaranteed way of getting a wave of unsubscribers!

Step 7: Add screenshots of video with a play button

Here’s a fun fact for you: newsletters that include video have double the click-through rate as those without video.

What does this tell you? That video is a major tool for email marketing and you should definitely be incorporating it into your content. Once you have embraced video, make sure that you link it into your newsletter with an image that has a clear play button. This is effectively another CTA. You can also include a CTA in the text that accompanies the video. Whatever you do, make everything clickable.

Step 8: Prioritize mobile design

Before you hit send, check to make sure that your design looks good on iOS, Android, and tablets. Most people check their email on their phones. If your content doesn’t look good on mobile, you can be sure that your engagement rates will plummet.

Step 9: Create your subject line

In many ways, the subject line is the most important part of your newsletter. This is the first thing that your audience sees, the first impression, and therefore it has to be powerful and motivating.

When composing your subject line make sure that you:

  1. a) Keep it short
  2. b) Include the primary CTA, if appropriate
  3. c) Make it funny, charming, playful, or engaging in some manner
  4. d) Experiment with Emoji

Step 10: Use best practices for images

Depending on what platform you are using, make sure that you follow its guidelines for uploading images. The last thing you want is to send an email to your entire customer base that has a blurry product photo in it. Be careful with images and always test them to make sure they are showing up right in the email body.

Also, remember to include alt text because not everyone will see your images!

Step 11: Before you hit send, think again…

Double check everything. This is among the most important rules for online marketing.

Before you hit send:

  • Check your grammar
  • Reassess readability
  • Check your links
  • Ask yourself if you are wasting your subscribers time, you don’t want to abuse it
  • Ask yourself if you are wasting your own time on this
  • Make sure you’ve set clear and realistic goals.

Step 12: Measure, debrief, and analyze

Newsletter marketing is a process which must always be reevaluated and reimagined. Once you’ve begun that process, always be sure to measure, debrief, and analyze your results.

Some good ways to do this is to hold debriefing meetings with all those involved in the newsletter creation and disbursement process. Together look at your open, click, and conversion rates. Discuss what went well, what went wrong, and what you can do differently next time.

Don’t be afraid to readjust and improvise. You will most likely have to try dozens of times before you start seeing results that align with your goals from step one.

Now that you have our 12 step checklist for effective newsletter marketing, it’s time to go do!

Download PDF Ultimate Newsletter Checklist

 

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