What is a newsletter?
An email newsletter is a marketing email that is regularly sent (weekly, monthly, quarterly) to a list of subscribers who have signed up. The content is usually designed to highlight news about a business’s latest offerings or editorial content that educates readers on a specific topic.
Looking for information on how to create a free newsletter but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry! With the right tools, it’s super easy and won’t cost you anything. This guide will take you through the steps oN how to make a newsletter that your customers will love and keep them coming back for more.
Why send an email newsletter? If you’re managing a business website, blog, or eCommerce store, newsletters are a powerful and indispensable communication tool for building relationships with your contacts, readers, or customers.
Sending a regular email newsletter can help you achieve several objectives:
- Promote your products or services
- Give updates to customers about your latest company news
- Highlight your best editorial content
- Build customer loyalty through consistent engagement
- Generate recurring traffic to your website or blog
Learn how to create a newsletter from start to finish with this comprehensive guide. We will take you through all the steps and give you tips along the way to make sure you get the most engagement possible!
Before starting, here are a few tips to maximize the potential of your email newsletter.
So you’ve made up your mind — you want to send an email newsletter to your website visitors and customers. Considering that newsletters are one of the most effective tools for building customer loyalty and creating an audience that continues to come back to your website and business, we think you made the right choice ;).
But, don’t just dive in headfirst without thinking!
Define the objectives for your email newsletter
When you create a newsletter you should always have clear goals and be part of a larger, well-thought-out email marketing strategy. If you want to have long-term success with your newsletter, it needs to be more than just a notification you send to your customers by default every week or month.
Before sending out your first email newsletter, take the time to think through your editorial strategy for the email newsletter campaign just like you would for a website or blog.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Who am I sending this newsletter to? (What is my target audience and what are their needs?)
- What are the goals of my newsletter? (e.g. generate web traffic, increase sales, build better customer relationships, create a loyal following for your content, etc.)
- What am I going to send to my subscribers? (e.g. exclusive content, new articles from the blog, promotional deals, updates, etc.)
- How frequently should I send my newsletter? (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.)
- What value are my customers getting from my newsletter? (Why should they subscribe?)
Clarify these points for your readers so your email newsletter doesn’t end up as “noise” in your subscribers’ inboxes.
Once you’ve clarified the goals of your newsletter, you can think more about the content and operational strategy you want to deploy.
Deciding how your email newsletter will add value
Essentially, you want to have your newsletter expected and welcomed by your contacts, not banished to the spam folder with the weight loss scams and unsolicited “male enhancement” emails.
To accomplish this, you have to provide add real value in the content of your email newsletter content and send it on a regular interval.
- Choose a fixed sending frequency (e.g. every monday, the first Thursday of each month, etc.)
- Put together your best content and most interesting offers
- Figure out your tone, design theme, and editorial line that will be recognizable to your readers
- Differentiate yourself from your competitors!
To help you better define your goals and editorial line for your newsletter, read our article 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hitting ‘Send’ on Your Email Campaign.
Now that you have your goals and value proposition down, it’s time to find an audience for your email newsletter!
Having a well-thought-out plan for your newsletter is great… but it won’t mean much if you don’t have a list of contacts to send it to! Here are a few tips to help you get started on building your email newsletter list:
Create compelling email opt-in forms
The first step of the process is to create an opt-in form (or several forms). Without this, you have no way of collecting contact information from the visitors on your website.
When considering the copy and CTA that you include on your opt-in form, be sure to keep in mind:
- Clarity: Being clear about the value your newsletter will bring subscribers and the frequency at which you will send it helps set expectations and ensures that you get the right people signing up to receive your email newsletters.
- Friction: Make the signup process easy remove friction by only asking for the information you need (i.e. an email address and maybe a first name).
- Confirmation: Consider implementing a double opt-in system to ensure that your list consists of only people who really want your email newsletter.
Place your forms strategically across your website
After creating your forms, you need to add them to or link to them from your website so you can begin gathering subscriber email addresses.
You should try to find the right balance between giving visitors as many chances as possible to see your form and signup, while also being mindful of the user experience. You don’t want to be disruptive because this can hurt the number of signups, and it can also hurt your rankings in search engines like Google (e.g. if you use disruptive popups before giving the user time to interact with the page).
Including your form in the sidebar or footer is always a safe bet, but you may need to try a few different places before you find the option that works the best for you.
Remind readers to sign up for your email newsletter
Wherever you end up placing your signup forms, there will inevitably be people who miss them. That’s why you should find ways to encourage more signups directly from your content!
This actually makes a lot of sense because it’s usually when people are reading your articles that they see the true value they would receive by signing up for. your email newsletter. Plus, people are always more willing to do something if you ask them directly rather than just hoping they’ll do what you want!
Promote your newsletter signup form on social media
Along the same lines as the previous point, you should ask more than just the people consuming your content — social media followers also probably want to hear about your email newsletter!
Schedule a recurring Tweet or Facebook post that promotes your newsletter signup form and include links to the signup form in your profile description as well. This will ensure that you don’t let anyone who might want to subscribe fall through the cracks!
Did you know that you can also add a signup form to your Facebook business profile as an additional tab?
Here are a few tips on how to create a newsletter that is effective using the Sendinblue drag and drop editor.
Adapt and create your newsletter design to match your brand identity
To make your newsletter more credible and recognizable to your audience, it should align well with the brand identity you’ve created on your website or blog.
The simplest way to do this is to include your logo front and center at the top of your email. This will let your readers know immediately that this newsletter is coming from you.
The default template in the drag and drop design tool already has a block included for this, so you can easily just add your logo right away.
For the rest, just use whatever fonts and colors you have on your website to give a cohesive experience between your website and newsletter. Want to use more fancy fonts than just the defaults? Check out our tutorial on how to import fonts to the drag and drop newsletter editor.
Start with the most important information
Create your newsletter according to the “inverted pyramid” writing style, with the most important message appearing at the top.
When your readers open your newsletter, they often don’t have a lot of time to read every last detail (though some may come back or take the time occasionally).
That’s why you have to make sure you organize your message to prioritize the most important information first. This could be a promotional offer, an important piece of news about your business, or an article that you want to highlight.
Put it at the top of your newsletter so your users don’t have to scroll in order to see it.
By placing your most important block above the fold and leaving the information that is less important for further down the newsletter, you can be sure that your readers will pay more attention to the content you want them seeing.
Pay special attention to your calls to action
Calls to action are what make your newsletter achieve their goal of getting readers to visit your website or make a purchase.
Calls to action are responsible for driving traffic to your site, generating sales, or getting more shares on social media. They are one of the most important aspects on your campaign, so be sure to optimize them as best as you can!
If you want to create an effective CTA, make sure you:
- Choose a color that stands out from the rest of the newsletter
- Use action words that encourage readers to do something
- Strategically place it in your email so it is highly visible to your readers
It might be that your newsletter has a larger objective than just driving sales for one particular product or category. An example of this would be promoting multiple pieces of content from your blog or if you are promoting several different categories of products that are on sale.
In this case, the CTA buttons will be especially important because they will be sending customers to the specific article or product that they want to see. Make sure you make it obvious where users need to click if they want to see each of the different items associated with each CTA.
Include links to your social media profiles
When you make a newsletter, you should think of it as part of a global digital marketing/communication strategy. That means you should also try to push them to connect on other platforms like social media.
When you’re sending a newsletter, you have to keep in mind your broader digital communication strategy as well: build a loyal and engaged audience across all channels.
Social media platforms are one of the best ways to connect with your customers directly and promote your content, so why not integrate them into your newsletter strategy as well? Do this by including CTAs in your newsletter to drive people to your social media pages. This will add to your credibility help you build your following on social, creating one more possible touch point with your customers.
With the drag and drop editor, you can easily do this by selecting the “Social Networks” block from the bottom of the left menu.
Once you’ve done this, click on the edit icon to make a column on the right appear which allows you to add the relevant information.
All you have to do now is check the box next to the icons of the platforms you want to add, then input the URL of your profile page on that platform in the field next to it. Once you’ve set up the logos, you should also consider adding text to encourage visitors to follow you.
Sendinblue newsletter software lets you easily create and send your newsletters from one place. It’s free for up to 9000 emails per month, with a daily sending limit of 300. Learn how to send a newsletter today by following these 4 simples steps!
If you want to send a newsletter to a large number of contacts, it’s not a good idea to use a normal email provider like Gmail or Outlook. This would essentially guarantee that your emails will automatically end up in the spam folder because their system of servers and IP addresses is not set up for bulk sending.
That’s why you need an email marketing service like Sendinblue that is technically set up for this type of sending and makes it easy with features like:
- Responsive email newsletter design tool
- A library of email templates that you can personalize for your brand
- Signup forms that you can integrate directly into your site so your visitors can easily sign up for your newsletter
- Contact management tools
- Analytics dashboards to follow the performance of your emails in real time (open rates, click rates, deliverability, etc.)
1. Create a Sendinblue account
Start by creating and setting up an account in Sendinblue.
Creating a Sendinblue account won’t take you more than about 5 minutes:
- Enter in your information on our signup page
- Check your inbox and click on the link in the confirmation email
- Complete your profile by entering in all of your information in the required fields
- Finalize your account creation by entering in the code that you received by text message
Once you’ve created your account, you’ll have to complete two more steps to have your account validated:
- Import 10 or more contacts into your database
- Create and schedule your first email campaign (you won’t be sending it quite yet though!)
2. Import your contacts into Sendinblue
If you already have a list of contacts who opted into receiving your email communications, here is how you can import them into your Sendinblue database.
To import your contacts in Sendinblue, start by clicking on the Contacts option in the left-hand menu. Then click the button on the top right that says Import contacts.
From there, you’ll have a few options of how you can add your contacts to Sendinblue:
- Import files (.csv or .txt)
- Copy/paste contacts from your .xls file
- Synchronize and import from another platform
You can also simply manually add a contact by selecting Add a contact.
For more detailed instructions on how to upload contacts to your email database, read our tutorial.
3. Set up your email newsletter list opt-in form
Before creating your first email newsletter campaign, it’s important to give your website visitors a chance to sign up for your email list. You can do this by creating a subscription form in Sendinblue and adding it to your website.
The Sendinblue platform lets you easily create opt-in forms that you can add to your site in no time. Here is an example of that in action on our blog:
Create your own newsletter subscription form:
In the Sendinblue platform, navigate to the Contacts tab and click Forms. You’ll be presented with an option to create your first subscription form, as shown below:
Give your form a name so that you’ll be able to find it within your account.
Now you should be in the subscription form editor!
All you have to do from here is personalize your newsletter subscription form with CTA text, colors that match your brand, and all of the form fields that you want subscribers to fill out.
Once you’ve personalized your form, it’s time to choose from one of the three options for email subscriber confirmation:
- No confirmation email: The contact is immediately added to the list without sending a confirmation email.
- Simple confirmation email: The contact is added to your list and a simple confirmation email is sent to notify them.
- Double confirmation email: The contact is sent an email in which they must click a link to confirm their identity. After clicking on the confirmation link, they will be added to your list.
Our recommendation would be to use a double opt-in process because this guarantees that your contacts actually typed in their correct email address and really want to receive your emails.
Trust us, this will improve your deliverability and sender score down the line. Why? Because it prevents hard bounces from misspelled email addresses and lack of engagement from uninterested contacts.
After setting the parameters for signing up, the last thing you have to do is select the list to which you would like to add your new contacts. After that, just hit “Save” and you’re ready for the next step!
Add the newsletter subscription form to your website
To add the newsletter opt-in form to your website, click on the Share tab below the newsletter editor. You’ll arrive here:
Here you’ve several options for sharing your signup form. You’ve got a link that takes you to a page where your form is hosted, as well the HTML code that you can use to embed your form in your site’s HTML (the most simple of which is the “iframe” option).
For a more detailed explanation on how to create a newsletter subscription form, set up a double opt-in system, and integrate the form into your website, read our tutorial.
4. Create your first newsletter campaign
Easily make a newsletter that is professional-looking with the help of our drag and drop email campaign editor.
Okay, so you’ve got your account created, your newsletter subscription form set up on your website, and you’ve started gathering contacts in your email list.
The only thing left to do is dive straight in and create your first newsletter. To get started, click on the Create an email campaign under the Campaigns section in your Sendinblue Dashboard.
Creating an email newsletter campaign in Sendinblue consists of 4 steps:
1 – Setup
On the first screen, you can define the settings of your campaign:
- Campaign Name: Make it easy to find and edit inside the platform. Your contacts won’t see this.
- Subject Line: The email subject line text that your recipients will see in their inbox
- From Email: The email address that is visible to your contacts as the “sender” of your newsletter.
- From Name: The name of the sender that shows up in your recipients’ inboxes before opening the email.
Take extra care to make sure you have a great subject line. This is the first impression that your contacts will see from you in their inbox, and it is one of the only factors — and by far the most important — in helping them determine whether or not they will open it.
For tips on optimizing your email subject line, check out our article on the subject.
The From Name is also an important element in getting your contacts to open. Make sure you choose something that will let your contacts easily identify that it is from you.
2 – Design
There are 3 different options that you can choose to create an email newsletter design in Sendinblue:
- Drag and drop editor: An intuitive interface for creating newsletter email campaigns using drag-and-drop blocks or customizing pre-made templates.
- Rich Text Editor: Choose this option if you want to create simple plain text emails without images or HTML.
- Paste Your Code: Choose this option if you already have an email design in HTML and just need to paste it into the platform. This is typically the case when you download free email templates from elsewhere.
If you want to create your first newsletter and you don’t have any design experience, you should choose the drag and drop editor for the easiest route.
How to create a newsletter using the Sendinblue Drag & Drop tool
To create your newsletter, choose design blocks from the left column and personalize them with your original copy, images, and brand colors.
Take for example the “Image + Content” block:
Drag the blog from the left column into your email template design. You can then edit different elements of the block (e.g. font, color, etc.) by clicking on the “pencil” icon.
Create your newsletter from a template
The drag and drop editor also lets you choose from our library of email templates and customize them to your needs.
To access the template library, click on the drop-down arrow on the Save & Quit button and click on the second option Choose another template.
Once you choose a template, just add the content that you want and personalize the colors and images to match your brand and needs!
For a more detailed explanation of the drag and drop editor, read our tutorial.
3 – Recipients
This step involves choosing and segmenting the audience that will receive your newsletter.
For this step, choose the list that corresponds to the contacts who have subscribed to your newsletter via the form you have set up on your website.
You can get even more targeted with using the segmentation option below. For example, this would enable you to send your newsletter only to contacts in your list who have opened one of your previous newsletter campaigns.
This is the final step before sending your newsletter, and it’s the last opportunity to make sure everything is set up correctly and you didn’t forget anything important.
One of the most important things you can do during this final step is to send yourself a test email to make sure that everything in your campaign looks good in the inbox:
Once you’re sure that everything is ready to go, you can click on the green “Schedule” button at the top right of the screen. Before you hit send though, it might be a good idea to go over all of the key aspects of a campaign using our 25-point email marketing checklist!
5. Monitor performance
Congratulations! You know now how to create a newsletter and send your first email newsletter campaign! Now it’s time to check on how it’s performing.
To view the engagement statistics for your email newsletter, go to the “My Campaigns” tab from the left-hand menu and then click on the blue “Report” button that corresponds to your specific campaign:
This will take you to a detailed performance report for your campaign, which includes statistics like opens, clicks, unsubscribes, deliverability, and more.
If you want to learn more about the different performance statistics that you can monitor for your email campaigns, check out our article on the 7 most important KPIs for email marketing.
And there you have it – the complete guide on what is a newsletter and how to make a newsletter without the hassle or cost!
Contrary to popular belief, newsletters are something that anyone can start sending for their business, no technical skills required! So now that you know that, you should be ready to start sending!
Sign up for a free Sendinblue account today and start sending up to 9,000 emails each month!
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Need advice on sending email newsletters during the Covid-19 crisis? Read our crisis communication guide to emailing customers.
Product Marketing Manager @Sendinblue. I love helping SMBs and eCommerce businesses reach a larger audience by writing on digital marketing best practices and advanced techniques. In my free time, you can probably find me skateboarding or tinkering in an overly-complex spreadsheet. 😉