You might be asking yourself, “Do people still even read newsletters? Is this something that can really help my blog?” Well, the answer to both is “yes.” Newsletters offer a way to promote your blog posts and get feedback from readers.
One advantage of a newsletter is that emails tend to have a longer shelf life than something like a tweet. While your tweets or other social media posts can easily get buried under a flood of other peoples’ posts, most people are relatively likely to go back and open up an email they received earlier in the day.
Your newsletter can include links to specific blog posts and your social media accounts as well as any other content you wish to include. This gives you the ability to share a lot of information in one place and highlight specific content to a targeted group of people.
Starting a newsletter isn’t a complicated process as long as you know what you’re doing. Below we’ve laid out the necessary steps to get your blog’s newsletter off the ground.
Pick an Email Service Provider
You’ll want to sign up for a dedicated newsletter email service provider (ESP) rather than using a standard email account. This will provide you with the tools necessary to maintain and grow your email list and organize the process of sending out your newsletter.
There are numerous ESP options out there to choose from. Here are some important things to consider when choosing one:
- Scalability - You may not need a large host of features or the ability to handle a huge subscriber base at first, but you’ll want your ESP to be capable of meeting your needs down the road as your newsletter grows.
- Customer service - Hopefully you won’t have any problems with your ESP, but if you do it is important to have responsive and effective customer service.
- Reporting stats - Knowing how many people are opening your newsletter and clicking on your links is critical. The more advanced the data analysis you can get from your ESP the better.
- Security - With data breaches becoming more prevalent, you want an ESP with robust security features.
- Ease of use - While having a long list of features is great, one of the most important things is that it is easy to use.
Here are a few of the most popular email service providers:
- Constant Contact
Set a Schedule
Just like your blog posts, you’ll want to send out your newsletter on a regular schedule. This can be weekly, monthly, or whatever other option you want, but keeping it consistent is key. You should also aim to send it out at the same time of day. Think about your typical reader; what is their schedule and daily routine probably like? Use this to guide your decision about when to send out your newsletter.
And don’t forget to schedule time to actually work on your newsletter. Doing this ensures that you’ll have it done in plenty of time to meet your publishing deadline.
Design Your Newsletter
Whether you start from scratch or utilize a template in a graphic design program, you want your newsletter to look good and be easy to read. Keep in mind that a lot of people will likely be reading it on a mobile device, so making your text and images compatible with this type of viewing is critical.
Also, try to limit your newsletter to just one page if possible. The easier it is to digest, the more likely it is to effectively grab readers’ attention. Try to only include the most important content that you want to highlight. And don’t forget to include an attention-grabbing subject line!
It is also important to ensure that your newsletter is compliant with all relevant laws and regulations. Two that you definitely want to familiarize yourself with are CAN-SPAM and GDPR.
You can have a great looking, interesting newsletter, but if you don’t have any subscribers it won’t be very valuable.
It is important to start building your email list as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t sure that you are going to create a newsletter, it’s a good idea to start collecting email addresses from readers of your blog. Thankfully, GoDaddy makes this easy with its Website Builder. You can add an email subscription form and button to your website with just a few clicks.
Readers are bombarded with prompts to provide their email addresses, so to increase the likelihood of them signing up for your newsletter, it is a good idea to offer some sort of incentive relevant to your blog. What this incentive could be will vary considerably depending on the type of blog you are writing, but if you have something to offer (other than your newsletter, of course), it could help you attract more subscribers. Things like free ebooks, white papers, or other free tools are generally a good trade for an email address.
In addition to having a sign-up form on your blog, you should also advertise your newsletter via your social media accounts and ask friends and family to subscribe as well. If you can get some word-of-mouth advertising from people who already follow you, that is a nice (and very effective) bonus.
Analyzing how much people engage with your newsletter is critical. Using the built-in analytical tools included in many of the email service providers is a great way of doing this. They will provide you with various statistics that let you know things like how many people are opening your newsletter and what they are clicking on once they do.
One tip for measuring the effectiveness of your newsletter is to do something called A/B testing. In this, you create two slightly different versions of something and send each out to a different group of people, and then measure the results. For example, you could try two different styles of subject lines, layouts, color schemes, etc. Keep in mind that you probably only want to change one variable though, otherwise, you might not know which one was responsible for any potential difference in reader engagement.
A newsletter is one more way to help drive traffic to your blog and build your brand. Done well, it can attract new readers and deepen relationships with existing ones. And, once you’ve settled on a template and schedule, it doesn’t require too much of a time investment beyond your other blogging responsibilities. Now that you’ve finished reading this guide, it’s time to start collecting some email addresses (if you haven’t already!).