As a webmaster with over 15 years of experience, I‘ve helped hundreds of businesses build successful email newsletters.
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll share insider tips to set up your first professional email newsletter campaign.
- Why Email Newsletters Are Essential
- Step 1: Choosing the Best Email Service Provider
- Step 2: Building Your Subscriber List
- Step 3: Configuring Your List Settings
- Step 4: Creating High Converting Signup Forms
- Step 5: Sending Your First Email Newsletter
- Tactics for Rapid List Growth
- Monetizing Your Newsletter List
- Keeping Your Reputation Pristine
- Final Thoughts
Why Email Newsletters Are Essential
Here are some powerful statistics that demonstrate why email marketing needs to be a cornerstone of your overall strategy:
Email has an incredible 4,300% ROI according to the Direct Marketing Association . For every $1 you invest, you can expect to earn $43 back.
91% of consumers check their email on a daily basis . No other platform has engagement this high.
Email converts at 3x the rate of social media . For every 1% increase in email engagement, average order value jumps by 7%.
Segmented and personalized email campaigns have open rates of over 50% . Even small personalizations make a big impact.
As you can see from the data, email marketing provides an unparalleled opportunity to cost-effectively build meaningful relationships with your audience.
Now let‘s get into the step-by-step playbook on how to setup your first email newsletter.
Step 1: Choosing the Best Email Service Provider
The very first thing you need is an email service provider (ESP) to handle sending your newsletter.
There are tons of options out there like Constant Contact, MailChimp, AWeber, ConvertKit, Drip, and more.
Based on significant hands-on experience, I recommend Constant Contact for most beginners.
Constant Contact strikes the perfect balance of being easy to use yet powerful. With their drag and drop builder, mobile-friendly templates, and automation tools, you can create professional newsletters in minutes.
Some key advantages of using Constant Contact:
- Built-in welcome emails and unsubscribe management
- Advanced analytics with open and click tracking
- High inbox placement rates for excellent deliverability
- Seamlessly integrate forms and landing pages
- Top-notch customer support if you ever need assistance
- Affordable pricing that scales as you grow
Constant Contact also offers a free trial so you can test them out risk-free.
Once you‘ve signed up for Constant Contact, it‘s time to setup your contact list.
Step 2: Building Your Subscriber List
Every email newsletter needs a home – and that‘s your contact list. This is where you‘ll collect and manage contacts who have subscribed to receive your emails.
To create your list in Constant Contact, click on Contacts and then Create List. Give your list a name that‘s related to your newsletter topic or brand.
For example, for a small business called Petunia Pottery you may name your list "Petunia Pottery Newsletter Subscribers."
At this point, add your own email address to the list. This allows you to test the signup process and preview how your emails will look.
Pro Tip: Resist the temptation to purchase or rent an email list to shortcut building your own. Not only is this frowned upon, but these contacts did not consent to receive your emails so will report you as spam. Slow organic list growth is better.
Step 3: Configuring Your List Settings
Before sending your first campaign, there are a few key settings we need to configure.
First, create an automated welcome email that gets sent immediately when a new subscriber joins your list.
Some best practices for welcome emails:
- Thank subscribers for signing up
- Share a little about who you are and what you do
- Set expectations about email volume and frequency
- Highlight your most popular content or products
- Direct them to important pages on your website
- Keep it short, simple and valuable
Next, set your default sender name, from email address, and subject line prefix.
These details appear on every email you send out. Choose your business name as the sender and use an email tied to your domain.
Having your list settings dialed in upfront ensures your newsletters always look professional.
Step 4: Creating High Converting Signup Forms
Now that your list is created, it‘s time to start collecting subscribers!
The best way is by placing email signup forms on your website. Your ESP will provide basic form building blocks, but I suggest creating custom, high converting forms for maximum impact.
Here are two excellent form creation options:
1. Use a WordPress Plugin Like WPForms
For WordPress sites, the WPForms plugin is my top choice for building newsletter signup forms.
It has a drag-and-drop form builder and seamlessly integrates with Constant Contact and every other major ESP.
WPForms makes it easy to add forms anywhere on your site with no coding required.
2. Use a Dedicated Tool Like OptinMonster
OptinMonster is the industry leader when it comes to converting visitors into subscribers.
It offers powerful features like exit intent technology, A/B testing, and actionable analytics.
OptinMonster comes with dozens of professionally designed form types like floating bars, slide-ins, and multi-step lightboxes.
Place OptinMonster forms on high value pages and locations. Their smart targeting will help you rapidly grow your list.
Step 5: Sending Your First Email Newsletter
Once you have a small group of subscribers, it‘s time to start sending out content.
In Constant Contact, click Create > Email to setup a new campaign. Select a pre-built template or start from scratch.
Here are some tips for creating engaging, high performing newsletters:
Keep it short – Single topic newsletters work best. Only include what‘s truly useful.
Tell stories – Share personal anecdotes, company news, behind the scenes. Make it relatable.
** educational and helpful content, don‘t overtly sell or pitch.
Optimize design – Large fonts, ample whitespace, clear calls to action. Avoid clutter.
Promote thoughtfully – Only advertise offers and content that are genuinely valuable for that subscriber.
Don‘t overthink – Email newsletter prose should be casual, conversational, and sound like it was written just for them.
Once your email is created, Constant Contact makes it easy to schedule campaigns or send immediately.
Review open and click-through rates to see which content your subscribers respond to best. Refine and optimize as you go.
Tactics for Rapid List Growth
Now that you know how to create effective newsletters, let‘s talk about list building strategies.
Here are some of my favorite tactics for quickly growing your subscriber count:
Lead magnets – Offer a free digital asset like a guide, template, or checklist in exchange for their email.
Web push notifications – Use a tool like PushEngage to collect emails from website visitors.
Contests and giveaways – Incentivize signups by offering prizes, rewards, or exclusive access.
Facebook ads – Target engaged users and direct them to a lead capture landing page.
Content upgrades – Provide access to exclusive content when users signup.
Website popups – Use exit-intent and scroll-based triggers to display sign up forms.
Email signup navigation link – Add a visible call-to-action on every page of your site.
** crossover promotions – Encourage existing customers or social followers to join your list.
The larger your list grows, the more avenues you have to generate revenue.
Monetizing Your Newsletter List
There are many ways to start monetizing your email list once you have traction and an engaged subscriber base.
Here are some of the most common newsletter monetization models:
Affiliate marketing – Promote relevant third-party products and earn commission on sales. Disclose affiliate relationships.
Sponsored content – Get paid by brands to feature their product or service in your newsletter. Ensure editorial alignment.
Native advertisements – Insert paid ads that blend seamlessly with surrounding content.
Product recommendations – Suggest your own products or services that would benefit subscribers. Avoid being salesy.
List rental – Allow advertisers temporary access to send a one-time email campaign to your list. Charge per subscriber.
Virtual events – Host a webinar, workshop or course and charge for access. Great for established lists.
Paid subscriptions – Offer exclusive ‘premium‘ content or remove ads for paying members.
No matter which monetization method you choose, always lead with value first. Avoid aggressive pitches, and focus on building trust.
Keeping Your Reputation Pristine
To build a sustainable email marketing program, you need to carefully maintain your sender reputation. Getting labeled as spam can destroy deliverability.
Here are some tips to keep your newsletter out of the spam folder:
Never purchase or rent email lists. Only message users who opted in.
Provide a prominent unsubscribe link in each email. Make it easy to opt out.
Ensure your subject lines are accurate and avoid words that trigger filters.
Send from a reputable IP address tied to your domain.
Follow all CAN-SPAM and GDPR regulations for email marketing.
Add recipients to lists immediately after opt-in to avoid complaints.
Monitor spam reports and complaints. Remove problematic subscribers.
Limit email send frequency to match subscriber expectations.
Ensure your content is useful and avoid misleading copy.
Remember, your email subscribers place immense trust in you by providing their inboxes. Value and respect that trust above all else.
As you can see, starting a profitable email newsletter has never been easier.
Follow this step-by-step guide and you‘ll have everything in place to start collecting subscribers and sending effective campaigns.
If you commit to consistently providing value through your newsletter, your list will pay dividends driving traffic, leads, and sales for years to come.
What tips do you have for starting a successful email newsletter? I‘d love to hear what strategies have worked for your business in the comments below!