Your monthly newsletter should be simple right? Should be, but not always.
What do your subscribers want to know?
What can you tell them that will have them open the email and read?
What type of newsletter will you send your subscribers every month?
Will you send the same format every month?
Will you send your blog posts?
Will you change it up and send something different every month?
The questions can go on and on, so much that your head can spin. But it’s really not hard.
What does it take to create a successful monthly newsletter?
Just 4 steps. Follow them, and your newsletters will flow.
Let’s walk through them.
4 Steps to Creating a Monthly Newsletter
You need to plan the
- Email format
- Send day and time
Collect your articles and news and decide the order it goes into the newsletter. Add them to the newsletter template and make the content easy to read on mobile devices.
Schedule your monthly newsletter send
1 month from the send date check out the newsletter analytics. What can you do to get more opens? How can you get more clicks?
Topics will flow naturally from your business goals, business cycle, and the questions you get from customers.
Step 1 – Plan
Write about topics that further your business goals
In a perfect world, you’d have a year of monthly themes planned ahead of time. And you’re ahead of the curve if you’re 3 months ahead. Realistically we’re working on the current month’s topic and article.
The point here is to look at what you want to achieve and work your way back to what you need to do today to achieve that goal.
Questions to ask yourself when creating your monthly newsletter topics:
- What is your monthly business goal?
- With the goal in mind, what will it take for you to reach your goal?
- Looking at your goal, what do you need to sell this month to reach it?
- What do people want to learn about your topic that will help you fulfill your sales goal? Here’s where your customer questions come in.
Topic tip #1
Use the topics people should learn about to educate your clients and prospective clients about your products and services, which will, in turn, help them make educated buying decisions and shorten your first look to purchase time.
Add seasonal topics as necessary
January – New Year’s resolutions and year-end wrap-ups. It’s interesting to learn what a business has been through and how they’ve dealt with it.
February – Presidents Day and sales
March – St Patrick’s Day and Spring
April – Spring and Easter
May – Memorial Day
June – Vacations and Summer
July – the 4th of July
August – No holidays, but back to school is at the top of mind
September – Labor Day
October – Black Friday build-up and Halloween
November – Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving
December – Holidays and New Year Resolutions
Topic tip #2
Employing business goals and seasonal topics together can be effective, especially when seasonal items focus on things like Black Friday.
Is your industry in the news? Then people may have questions. Answer questions and address the issues before they get asked.
You will need to be a bit more flexible as your monthly business goals may need to be set aside for these timely topics.
Topic tip #3
Use what’s going on in your industry or on the news to lead your topics.
Most businesses have some seasonal cycles. Sales are slow in the summer and heat up at the end of the year or vice versa. Use your monthly newsletter to get an influx of sales during your quiet time.
New product launches or product relaunches should be promoted in your monthly newsletter also.
Topic tip #4
Promote sales and new products as a way to boost income during your naturally occurring slow periods.
Monthly emails can be arranged any way you like, and there are some traditional formats you may want to adopt.
News – Keep your readers current with all the events and happenings. Very popular with schools and associations. These types of emails have the tendency to be lengthy, so use a clickable table of content at the top to make them easier to navigate.
Retail – Big images, descriptions, buy buttons, and links to sales circulars are the standard for these emails. Check out this Cyber Savings email from Grammarly.
Informational – These newsletters will send out a paragraph and a link to an article they think you should read. The Skimm uses this format.
Personal letter – This email format looks like letterhead stationery and is used to convey a message that requires immediate action. It’s intimate and personal and will include the recipients’ name frequently throughout the email.
Blog post to email – Send your blog post to your readers via email with this format. Usually, it’s automated and doesn’t require any additional work other than publishing a blog post. Once the template is created, it is set it and forget it.
Light HTML – 1 image, basic fonts + links that work. Frequently used for informational email when you want someone to take action and follow up with you. Light HTML looks like letterhead stationery.
What content format will your readers love?
Videos work exceptionally well in email. Include a video how-to or short 1-minute message in your email. People will be able to see your personality and expertise for themselves.
A blog post image and excerpt with a link back to the article will drive people back to your website. People can look around and maybe even make a purchase.
Tie it together to reinforce concepts
Go through the topic list. Do you see a theme? Can you tie your monthly newsletters together with section headers and bring continuity to the newsletter? Are your articles reinforcing my your “how-to” video or vice versa?
Make it user-friendly
Now think about the length and format of the newsletter. If you have lots of exciting news to share, you may need to send short emails biweekly, or weekly. If you want a longer in-depth newsletter, the monthly format is perfect.
Content at the top of the newsletter gets read, the further down the page, the less your content is read.
Put items that are important to the success of your business at the top of the newsletter. Have a sale or event, put it first.
Fun and exciting items can go at the bottom of the monthly newsletter to encourage scrolling. Games and contests and announcing contest winners are perfect for the bottom of the newsletter because people will scroll to find them.
Make your text size large enough to be read on small smartphone screens in low light situations. The smallest I use is 16px.
Send Day and Time
When is the best time to send your newsletter? When people will read it.
Business to Business
Stick to a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday send. Either in the morning or when people get back from lunch. (People will cruise their inboxes when they come back from lunch, they’re a little tired, and they’re trying to look busy. Even a Friday at lunch send can be successful.
Business to Consumer
You have a lot more latitude with your sending schedule. When do you think people will have time to read? If your business deals with kids you may want to send Friday at lunch or early Saturday morning while parents gather their activity resources for the weekend. Helping people getting organized? A Sunday night send when people are organizing and winding up for their upcoming week could a great time.
Don’t ever send on a Monday morning. People tend to look through their email and delete as many emails as possible to make their inbox more manageable.
Step 2 – Content
Content is everywhere
Wrote a great blog post on your topic? Include it.
People want to hear what you have to say, that’s why they subscribed to your newsletter. Your monthly newsletter should have a bit of “you” in it. People need to get a feeling for who you are and your level of expertise.
Include great articles you’ve read on your topic.
But don’t just give your readers a link and expect them to read the article. Explain why the piece is important to read. Provide a short commentary, negative or positive about the piece. Your readers will get some insight into your expertise, even though you’re not creating the content.
Industry news needs to be covered!
Write about new developments or current news in your industry or topic. For social proof include links to press releases and industry news sites.
How to topics should be a mainstay of your newsletter.
“How to’s” usually get lots of engagement. If you have a “how-to” that works with your topic, include it along with a “how-to” video. People see your expertise for themselves, and they’ll see your personality. This will help them choose to work with you.
Any upcoming sales?
Include your current sales or promotion.
Products or services launch.
Announce your new products or launches. Include a video to give readers a peek into what it does and how it works.
Anything new with your business?
Maybe you have a new Customer Service Rep you want people to know about. Add a pic and quick bio so people will know who to look for or contact.
If you’ve moved your business, include your new address and a map to make the reader aware of the change.
Have an event where people can meet you?
It doesn’t matter if it’s in person, via webinar, a podcast, or Live video. Invite people to attend. You’ll fill seats! People will meet you and learn more about what you do.
Published any guest posts?
Ever published a guest post on someone else’s website or blog? Include it in your newsletter.
When you do a guest post, you’ll get introduced to a whole new audience. And it will help the website/blog owner by promoting their site to your audience.
Featured on any podcasts?
People love podcasts. They can listen and learn in easily digestible bite-sized nuggets on their own time. Include links to your podcasts. Again you’ll be introducing your audience to a new site.
If you have a podcast, be sure to include it.
Received a great customer review or have a case study to spotlight?
Include your latest stellar customer review as social proof.
Or write up a case study and include it in your monthly newsletter. People love it when other people succeed.
Step 3 – Send
Push the send button and schedule your newsletter!
Step 4 – Analyze
This step is so important, but it’s frequently skipped.
Here are the 8 email metrics I monitor:
- Delivery rate – If the delivery rate is low, it’s time to authenticate your email address with your email service. If that’s complete, it’s time to look at alternative email service providers.
- Open rate – Check out your industry open rate in this chart by Constant Contact. Use this as an indicator of how well your subject line was received.
- Clicks – Look at where the clicks happened and what content triggered the clicks.
- Bounces – I check these for misspellings, i.e., .con instead of .com or gmial instead of gmail. I fix the error for the next email.
- Email list growth (# of subscribers) – I want to see a steady uptrend here. I may need to change the placement of my subscription form or the type of form or my free opt-in offer.
- Unsubscribes – I like unsubscribes! I want people off my list that aren’t opening my email. But I use this stat to see how well my email was received with my audience. Lots of unsubscribes means my readers didn’t like my format, the frequency of my emails, or my email topic.
- Mobile and desktop open percentage – I optimize my email templates for mobile use. But if I have a large desktop open percentage compared to my mobile open I know I have a bit more leeway with my template.
- Leads generated (if applicable) – Bottom line, did I have anyone contact me about my products or services.
Now you have a plan for your monthly newsletter. It’s your job to come up with content.
Have questions about your monthly newsletters please feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email at [email protected].
For more tips on how to create a winning newsletter, check out this great infographic from Media Update.