It’s easy to feel lost as you look at the empty white space of a newsletter email draft.
Your fingers hover over the keyboard and you hope your coffee grants some kind of magic that will make words just kind of happen on the blank page.
Well…nothing’s happening and you’re wasting time because you have a ton of other things to do other than write a newsletter to your email list.
“Wait…” you think. “What’s even the purpose of this email newsletter?”
“Is it even worth doing?”
“How is it going to help my brand? I don’t even know what I want to say…so why should my readers care?”
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a blueprint to follow to make the most of your time and make your newsletter the best it can be?
We got you.
Consider this blog your all-in-one crash course on how to make a newsletter that skyrockets sales and explodes engagement.
Together, we’ll break down the what, why, and how of newsletters. From formulas to frequency, we’ll discusses guiding principles for effective emails.
Additionally, I want to show you exactly what a strong newsletter email looks like and brainstorms some ideas to get you writing.
So let’s start there—with the what!
What is a Newsletter?
The answer starts out simple enough: newsletters are the consistent update emails you send to customers.
Writing an email newsletter is a key part of communicating with customers and marketing your brand.
That’s where that vital follow up question comes in you ask yourself staring at the blank screen: what is the purpose of a newsletter?
Newsletters can sell products, but that’s not all they do. First and foremost, email newsletters are a chance to earn your audience’s trust.
Maybe you’re promoting a product launch, maybe you’re announcing a rebrand, maybe you’re just offering solid advice that proves you know your stuff, but every newsletter you send should build and nurture your relationship with your mailing list.
Different newsletters tackle different goals. You can define what type of newsletter you are sending by determining the goal of your newsletter.
Let’s take a look at the most basic goals you’re newsletter might have:
Newsletter Goal 1: Share content
Your newsletter offers a great chance to send out some free, valuable information. When your audience sees this example of your expertise, they’ll want more, more, more!
This email may link to something like a blog post or YouTube video, or it may simply include that valuable content in the email body. With a lead nurturing newsletter, you are giving and demonstrating knowledge, but you aren’t selling any goods or services.
As you’ll see later when we talk about nurturing your list, this kind of email is the go-to.
Example Subject: 10 tips to start your dream garden
Newsletter Goal 2: Announce an Event
Whether it’s a giveaway, promotion, or live event, this email engages your audience and introduces an urgent timeline.
No matter how much they can win, save, or learn, you can’t break into your customers’ houses and scribble a date and time on their calendars (seriously please don’t do this.)
The best option is to send out an attention-grabbing email reminding your audience about what is coming up. This newsletter email calls readers to save the date and gives information about the event too. You’re urging your audience to interact with your brand and presenting how they can benefit from that engagement.
Example Subject: Enter today for a chance to pies for life
Newsletter Goal 3: Sell a Product
An email with the purpose of selling something is the time to put your copywriting skills and audience research to work. With every word, you are pulling your audience towards the purchase.
This email highlights the benefits of what you’re selling and emphasizes a customer’s urgent need to have your goods or services in their life.
You’re telling a story that ends in a sale. Where that story starts and what that story introduces to your audience depends on your audience’s level of awareness. We’ll review the 5 levels of audience awareness in the next section.
Emails that tell your audience about your brand are included in this type, as you are working to increase customer awareness and “selling” your brand and mission, even if those brand emails don’t discuss specific products.
Overall, with newsletters, you are nurturing your list, engaging your audience, and calling customers to action.
It’s possible to mix and match these different types of newsletters. Maybe in a sales email you promote a product launch CTA at the end of an email chock full of valuable content.
A consistent connection to your audience is the strength of a good newsletter. Which leads us to the next question…
How Can a Newsletter Help Your Business or Brand?
Yes, you can build an audience and provide information on other platforms and using other methods. From TikTok posts to skywriting, there is no shortage of avenues for communication with customers.
Newsletters are a uniquely efficient and inexpensive medium of communication.
Let’s show you exactly how a newsletter can help your business.
1. You’re in control
Direct communication means engagement is in your court.
On social media, you are in the hands of the algorithm. You could get shadowbanned, you could be restricted, you could have your newsletter sent to an unqualified niche.
Newsletters are sent out when you schedule them to go out. You ensure the newsletter will reach the specific audience of your email list.
2. Marketing is expected.
People expect marketing in emails. On entertainment platforms, customers may resent sales content. In their inbox, people are ready to investigate inquiries and click to see more about what you offer.
But don’t abuse that expectation. As you’ll see in a bit, you don’t want to spam your audience with sales. Remember: nurture and build trust.
3. Geographical boundaries fall away.
Billboards, subway ads, or a message in the sky will have a large set of eyes but will not have any geographic diversity. Really, you won’t be able to reach the niche that emails can find.
And you can go beyond geography. Your email list can get divided into funnels in a number of different ways. You can reach those who clicked a sales page but didn’t buy, or left items in their cart, or marked that they were married in a survey.
There’s really no better way to communicate directly to the subniches of your list.
4. Emails come at a great price.
Most importantly, from Facebook ads to mailers, most marketing puts your piggy bank on a diet. However, email newsletters are a unique form of advertising, because they start at the wonderful price of $0.00.
You’ll find that most email CRM (Customer Relationship Management) providers like MailerLite or Mailchimp have a free option that is typically perfect for when you’re just starting out.
Just be prepared to grow that list. You’ll want to be aware of the best features and pricing models so you don’t have to switch when your list gets too big for the free version.
This is really a pivotal way email newsletters are a powerful, unique marketing tool for starting your brand because you are able to reach your target audience for free.
But here’s the thing: knowing who that target audience is and what they know is a key part of writing a successful newsletter. Your audience’s awareness level will change how you use newsletters to help your business and brand.
Brand Awareness 101
How well does your audience know you? Your product? Their problems? (Themselves?) With a little audience research based on the product or service you’re selling, they will fall somewhere on the audience awareness chart.
Knowing how aware your audience is to the problems they are having and the kind of solutions available to them will change your messaging all along their customer journey with you, including your newsletter.
Let’s dive into the 5 levels of awareness.
1. Unaware: At this level, you are writing to introduce your audience to both the problem and a solution. The customer doesn’t know about your brand or about what you offer them…or even that they have a problem that needs solving in the first place!
Listerine mouthwash was a legendary example of marketing to an unaware audience.
The story goes that Listerine’s early marketing educated its audience about “Halitosis”. Listerine introduced a solution to bad breath to customers who hadn’t seen a need to change the way their breath smelled previously.
At the unaware stage, your marketing must tell a story. You are educating your audience about their problem, your product, and your brand.
2. Problem-Aware: At this level, your audience knows of a problem, but doesn’t know about the solutions to their problem.
Bad Breath Benny knows his breath stinks. He can see the cartoon smell lines escape from his mouth every time he talks. However, Bad Breath Benny has accepted that his halitosis is just part of life, his life. He isn’t aware that there is a fix to his odorous issue.
If your audience is problem-aware, your marketing is showing them that there is a solution to their problem.
3. Solution-Aware: At this level, the customer knows about their problem and knows that a solution exists.
Bad Breath Benny enters this stage after a friend tells him that there are mouthwashes out there that could help him mitigate his halitosis.
The first goal of marketing for a solution-aware customer base is to make them aware of your product specifically. You want them to think of your brand when they consider the problem they are facing.
4. Product-aware: At this level, customers know about both the general solutions available to them and the specific problems that may work to help them with their issues.
Bad Breath Benny becomes product aware when he knows that Listerine specifically offers a mouthwash that could fight his bad breath.
If your customer knows the brand and product you offer, it’s time to give them the rundown of the features and facts of your product.
5. Most-aware: At this stage, customers are knowledgeable about the different brands and products that offer a solution to their problem.
Bad Breath Benny, with the help of some oral hygiene products, becomes just Benny. Benny, at this stage, researches each mouthwash before he buys any. Benny is most-aware. He knows brands, prices, features of products, and company missions for each product line.
Most-aware customers are going to take some extra convincing to choose you over a host of other options. Your marketing at this level needs to go beyond laying out facts and features and assert that your product is the best. You can do this by highlighting how your products compare to the competition and by offering promotions that make your brand the most urgently-needed and desirable option on the market.
Your marketing should know where your customer is starting and aim to move them along the stages of awareness.
With email newsletters, you’re targeting a specific audience and choosing what message to send them based on how aware they are of your product and their problem.
How to Make a Newsletter Subscribers Actually Want
How many emails do you gloss over every day?
Now here’s the scary thought: how do you make sure your newsletter emails aren’t just another email to ignore in your potential customer’s inbox?
Simple: Write emails you’d want to read that would help you solve a problem.
Ultimately, you’re creating value for a customer and providing solutions. These newsletters aren’t about you, they are about what your reader can get out of them.
You’re creating a path to solutions for your audience. Be intentional about your language, layout, and sending schedule.
Here’s how we’re going to make your newsletter emails pop:
- Copywriting basics using the ultimate, attention-holding copywriting formula (AIDA)
- A run-down on visual layouts for easy reading for your audience
- How an onboarding auto sequence gets you started on the right foot
- How to avoid annoying your readers into oblivion
- And we’ll recommend a proper email frequency: (Hint: The key is consistency)
Copywriting Basics (AIDA)
ATTENTION! Now that I have your attention… Let me introduce you to a copywriting game changer. There’s no such thing as an all-in-one answer when it comes to something as creative as persuasive copywriting, but AIDA is as close as you are gonna get to an ultimate copywriting formula.
A. I. D. A. Stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
AIDA is a pathway to action that starts with surprising your reader, then holds their attention with interesting information, taps into their desires, and then finishes with a call to action.
Your language is crafting a slippery slope. Each and every line you write should make your reader want to slide down and keep reading.
Find the most shocking, engaging, attention-grabbing opener that you can actually back up. You have a lot of messages to compete with.
Grab your audience’s eye… and then hold that attention with…
It’s time to get up close and personal. And maybe contradictory!
Tapping into your customer’s curiosity is key. Holding interest means doing your research, knowing your audience, and pulling them in by showing them you know who you’re talking to and what you’re talking about. This is where you back up your opener or go into the nitty gritty details of your expertise.
Your audience wants something. If you’ve done your research, you know what they want deeply and you know what they want immediately. Use those desires.
Show your reader that you can offer them what they want. Use specifics by showing them that the person they want to be and the life they want to live starts with what you can give them.
Ultimately, copywriting is about selling your reader a better version of themselves.
Whether it’s clicking, converting, buying, subscribing—get your customers to go from considering to doing.
It’s all in the slope. By grabbing their attention, holding their interest, and tapping into their desire, you’ve set yourself up for success. Your customer has slid down the slope to action you’ve laid out. They are ready to take the next step.
A slippery slope must also be visually inviting.
To think about visuals, let’s do a visual exercise. Imagine your inbox had only two emails.
The first email is one large block of entirely size 8 comic font in highlighter yellow.
Imagine a page that looked like this.
The Second Email has Perfect Visual Balance.
Picture varied line lengths, intentional capitalization, and dark text color on a light background
- Bolded words
- bullet lists
There’s inviting visual contrast. The imagery is simple, clean, and professional.
The comparison between these examples may be extreme, but this exercise demonstrates the importance of using every tool available to you to make your email layout appealing.
Just to refresh what you can do to ensure your email is stunningly legible:
- When appropriate, distinguish headlines with capitalization
- Bold important words
- Set subheadlines or distinctive phrases apart with italics
- Break up your blocky body of text with bullets
Be intentional in the writing and visuals of your email newsletter content.
If you’re gonna build lasting connections with your customers, you need to start things right. Onboarding is an effective way to nurture your mailing list from the moment they subscribe.
And the best part is you make onboarding an automated sequence. Your leads get attention with your great content immediately, but that all happens in the background.
Send a sequence of nurturing emails to welcome your mailing list. This will be up to five emails (no more than one per day) in the first week after someone has subscribed to your newsletter.
In this first week of emails, you are focused only on building trust and providing content. This nurturing initial sequence is a chance to show your audience that you can improve their life and answer their problems.
In the second week of onboarding, following your set of welcoming emails, you will send a set of 3-4 sales emails. If you are able to persuade a customer to buy something small early on, they will be more likely to purchase a larger offering down the line.
Onboarding’s second week should follow this specific plan to sell a product:
- On the first day of the second week of onboarding, you will send an email that is a pure product announcement. It isn’t a hard or aggressive sale, but it does introduce a smaller purchase option for your subscriber. They key here is outlining the benefits of the features of the product.
- Midweek of the second week of onboarding, send an email that includes valuable content and also links to your product. Use the AIDA formula to write a compelling email that builds to a closing call for customers to buy something.
- On the last day of the second week of onboarding, you will send two emails in one day.
In the morning, your email will remind your audience about the unique onboarding sales offer. This email will emphasize imagery so that the reader is picturing their life with the product.
In the evening, your email will alert your audience that this is their last chance to purchase the onboarding sale offer. This final onboarding email will focus on creating a sense of urgency and try to convince the customer to purchase that first product. (The urgency can come from a limited enrollment period, limited time price, special bonus for new subsribers, etc.)
Nurture Your Subscribers (AKA: Don’t Annoy Them)
Newsletters are the opportunity for you to connect with your audience. It’s important that you don’t burn subscribers out with an unrelenting army of aggressive sales emails.
Instead, create strong and lasting connections with your customers.
Build a strong customer base by building trust with your audience. If the relationship you have with your audience is just take, take, take (or an attempt to do so), your audience will take, take, take their business elsewhere.
Your emails should be about 80% content and 20% selling. It may seem counterintuitive to give something valuable away. However, when you give to your audience—both in the value your products provide and in newsletters with helpful content—you’re nurturing your list. This way, your newsletters show customers that you care about them. Gifts of targeted, actionable content demonstrate that you aren’t selling empty promises.
Other brands’ marketing emails will try to sell them worthless offers, rip off price points, and general junk. Stand out by demonstrating your brand’s real value in your newsletters and developing your audience’s trust.
When customers see that your communication includes beneficial information and that your company maintains transparency in their marketing, they will see that you are a brand they should stay loyal to.
Not too many and not too few…it’s important to find the Goldilocks frequency of emails. To determine the best email frequency for your newsletters, you should consider three things.
- How many emails are too many?
A customer drowning in a sea of promotional emails will unsubscribe (and probably throw a few expletives in there for good measure.) Spoiler alert: you don’t want that.
- How many emails are too few?
If you only send emails every blue moon, your subscribers will forget you exist. Then you have to re-engage them all over again if they’re even willing to pay attention at that point.
- How can you stay consistent?
Become a dependable sender. Pick a date, time, and reasonable frequency. Make an email schedule and stick to that plan. Schedule sending emails makes this consistency in newsletters even easier.
Hold yourself to a consistent, reasonable email schedule to deliver information to your mailing list at a frequency that is “just right”.
Ok, now you have an idea of a strategy…but seriously what does an email newsletter look like.
Email Newsletter Examples
Welcome to the virtual Copywriting Museum of Excellence. Let’s walk through three emails that exemplify strong copywriting.
These examples demonstrate what effective welcoming, nurturing, and marketing emails look like.
The first example comes from copywriting queen Talia Wolf. This file from the Getuplift blogosphere demonstrates how to greet a new subscriber with valuable content.
Key takeaways from this example are Wolf’s attention-grabbing opening commentary and personalized language, offering of free information on optimization, and promise of guides and templates during a subscriber’s onboarding process.
This next email from the ROI Advisors swipe file blog shows how a lead nurturing newsletter makes a brand stand out. This email on narrative is also a great reminder on how the writing of an email newsletter can be its own kind of storytelling.
The Zapier team is educating its audience on how to use storytelling in their business. This valuable content isn’t selling anything, but it does demonstrate the Zapier team’s knowledge.
Our last exhibit in the Copywriting Museum of Excellence is a clear demonstration of how newsletters can create an urgent call to action to sell to their customers. Restream’s bright yellow countdown alerts its audience that time is running out for them to make a purchase.
The 20% of pure sales emails in your newsletter, such as the email on the last day of onboarding, should, like this email, grab audience attention and create a sense of urgency.
Email Newsletter Ideas
Let’s brainstorm some newsletter ideas together. Here, we’ll go back to our original outline of what newsletters can do to think up some ideas for what you should include in your newsletter.
1. Sharing content
What content can you offer your audience?
Your first writing challenge is to write an email that doesn’t sell a single product. Send an email that is stuffed with the kind of valuable insight your company offers. Show off. Show what you know and how your expertise is valuable.
Before we move on let’s think of one possible Madlib for this lead nurturing newsletter headline.
Headline: [Adjective or Amount] + [Content] + [Benefit]
5 Newsletter Writing Tips to Increase Sales
2. Announce an event
Create engagement with your audience that has a timeline. Whether it be a promotion that expires or an event for them to attend, a newsletter announcement can call your audience to urgent action.
Headline: [Action or Event] + [Exclusive Timeline]
Cyber Monday Sale: Get 50% OFF all Mouthwash
3. Round up a list
It’s tough coming up with engaging content over and over again. So…work smarter, not harder.
The internet is a wealth of knowledge and there’s information out there that can be condensed into a list of valuable resources for your reader.
Maybe it’s the 5 best podcasts on a particular topic.
Or the best books you’ve read in your niche this month.
Even other blogs can get put into a handy list for your audience. Don’t be afraid to mention others in your niche because networking with them is valuable. Not only are you nurturing your relationship with your readers, but other brands that can be affiliate relationships.
The subject would be similar to the content emails.
Headline: [Adjective or Amount] + [Content] + [Benefit]
Surprising entrepreneur-focused podcasts to give you an edge
4. Sell a product?
Let’s close out our brainstorming session by digging right into that 20% of emails that sell, sell, sell.
Here, you need to be implementing your understanding of audience awareness. Determine what stage of awareness your customers are at and move them along the levels of awareness accordingly.
Here, also, is where the AIDA formula is most important. Customers will ignore your sale if you don’t have their attention, hold their attention, speak to their desire, and clearly call them to action.
[Product name] + [Product feature] + [Product Benefit]
Magic Mouthwash’s Whitening Formula Removes Years of Stains
Is Creating an Email Newsletter Your Next Step?
Now that you have a complete newsletter writing toolkit, it may be time to take the next step in your branding journey.
What’s your brand’s best next step? If you’re interested in customized guidance for your company strategy, you can take our free branding assessment today!