Looking for a new marketing program to build into your strategy? A newsletter may not jump out as the most revolutionary or exciting marketing tactic you will work on this quarter but don’t overlook the power of creating a newsletter program for your organization. Newsletters can support customer engagement, retention, and sales goals, while also building your brand credibility and value.
Now that we’ve touched on the value that a newsletter can bring to your organization, it’s time to create your own! We’ve broken the newsletter process down into eight steps that are easy to follow and will culminate in a newsletter program that is ready to implement and improve your customer marketing.
1. Write a Newsletter Program Brief
Writing out a newsletter program brief is a great way to kick off your newsletter planning. In the brief, outline the following:
The Whys - Describe the background on why a newsletter program is right for the organization and marketing strategy.
Roles and Responsibilities - Identify the newsletter team including the project owner, project manager, and the support team who will work on the program - whether you will be working on everything from copy, design, and developing yourself, or if you have writers, designers, and additional team to support the effort. It’s helpful to be clear about project roles and responsibilities.
Audience - Detail exactly who you are targeting with your newsletter. Is it the current list of customers, your email audience, or a combination of the two?
Goals - Be specific about the goals you have for your newsletter and list them out. Customer retention and engagement are great goals for a newsletter, along with a target to upsell your customers if your business offers products or services.
Frequency - Propose the frequency of your newsletter, whether it’s monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. Aim to deliver a newsletter as often as possible, while keeping the content fresh and providing value to your customers.
Format - Decide what format(s) your newsletter should be in. Whether it will be formatted as an email, a PDF or multi-page style format, a printed version, or as a combination of a digital asset and print version.
Special Offer - will you want to include a special offer or coupon in the newsletter?
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) - Identify the KPIs for the newsletter, whether it is open rates, website traffic, customer engagement, increased donations, foot traffic, or other measurable goals.
Timeline - Be specific about the target newsletter launch date and work backward to list all the milestones needed to reach the launch date.
Budget - A newsletter might require hiring a copywriter, designer, or investing in an email service or publishing platform. Be realistic about what you need and the budget you have available.
Blockers - To accomplish this project, are there any items that might limit your ability to finish the project and launch the newsletter? Identify them early, if possible.
2. Name Your Newsletter
Naming your newsletter is your opportunity to set the tone or theme of the newsletter, or align it with your brand. Not every brand or organization follows this step, however, we recommend you don’t skip it. Play with words that describe your company, phrases that rhyme, alliterations, or consider insider terms that might work. Don’t tackle the newsletter naming creation process on your own. Make sure to include others when brainstorming names or concepts. Have fun and be creative!
3. Build Your Newsletter Database
For many established organizations, this step shouldn’t take too much time. Most likely you already have a customer database or list including customer content information — whether email, mailing addresses, phone numbers, or all of these details. This step is necessary to determine exactly who will receive your newsletter and to create a specific database of all the customers who will receive the newsletter. It’s also helpful to determine the process for adding to your newsletter database. Are all new customers automatically signed up to receive the newsletter, through an online form and opt-in language on your website? Building your newsletter database for the first time is important and then planning how the database will grow will keep your newsletter program thriving.
4. Make an Outline
Let's get organized! You probably have tons of content ideas and elements you want to include in the newsletter. Don’t jump into the draft stage yet, however! Outline all the different topics you want to cover, from updates to blog posts, announcements, tips, and more. Remember that a newsletter should be informative and always useful to your customers and audience, so make sure your content meets both of these criteria. The type of brand or organization may determine the length of your newsletter outline, whether you are keeping it to 3-5 content items, or planning a multi-page newsletter. Do what is right for your organization, based on your knowledge of your audience and content. This is a perfect time to also identify set sections to use in your first newsletter and in future editions. These sections will be utilized to share content that fits a theme or is related to each other.
Newsletter sections you may want to consider:
Message from the CEO or other company executives
From Our Blog
In Case You Missed It
Videos to Watch
Seen on Social
Once you have completed the outline, it’s time to start gathering the content you hope to include, from links, existing verbiage or blog posts, press releases, or videos. The newsletter outline will be helpful for the drafting step, whether you will be drafting it yourself or passing it along to a copywriter.
5. Draft Your Newsletter
The moment you have been planning and working toward has finally arrived! It’s finally time to draft your newsletter. Make sure you remind yourself about all of the planning and outlining you have already completed and draft your content to follow the outline. Everyone will have a different process for drafting copy and you might even be working with a copywriter who will need the outline and available content in order to put together a strong first draft. The draft process will take multiple rounds, so don’t get frustrated if the first version doesn’t read as smoothly as you had hoped. Edit your newsletter draft and then share it with a few others for additional editing and general input. During the draft phase, you will also need to work on gathering or designing images that correspond with your various content sections. Again, if you are working with a separate designer, they will need to be briefed on what design assets you need and if you have any existing examples or creative assets to reference or simply re-size. For free stock photography or images, try Unsplash, Pexels, or Pixabay.
Once the newsletter has gone through a few rounds of review and revisions, the final draft version will be ready to layout for final publishing.
6. Newsletter Layout
All the elements of the newsletter are ready and it’s time to layout the final newsletter. The first newsletter will most likely be the most time-consuming to create, as you figure out how you want to organize and display all the content. The newsletter draft might have a “main” topic or story that you want to put at the top of the newsletter or give the largest section of the layout too. Then determine what other sections you need to create and prioritize the sections. CEO and Executive messages might be the newsletter introduction and will be the first content item and then next are product announcements or updates. The layout will also be determined by whether you are creating an email newsletter, PDF version, or printed newsletter. Make sure to include your brand logo, and utilize the brand color palette and typography too. Certain email service providers will offer templates to get you started, or you can use PowerPoint, Canva.com, or work with a graphic designer for the final newsletter design. Once you have the copy, layout, and image or graphics finalized, don’t forget to share the newsletter with colleagues or friends for one final review. This final review will ensure you catch any small typos or layout concerns before you distribute the newsletter to your customers.
For newsletters developed in PDF format, don’t forget to upload your content to Issuu and transform the newsletter into a high-performance digital asset. Issuu turns a flat PDF into an interactive, page-turning flipbook with a full suite of analytics available. You can also create derivative assets from your newsletter to be used as social stories on Instagram or Facebook, email graphics, and mobile-optimized articles. Utilize these additional assets to reach an even wider audience with your newsletter campaign and beyond your initial database of customers.
7. Launch the Newsletter
Congrats, you’ve made it to the most exciting step of creating a newsletter, it’s finally time to launch your newsletter! Whether you launch your newsletter by email, through the mail, or by placing it in-store, make sure you have a few additional promotional messages planned to increase awareness and engagement of your newsletter. Share the newsletter with your social media audience, highlight specific content items on their own, and utilize newsletter elements such as images or videos for your website, email, and social media channels. A newsletter is the perfect long-form content item to repurpose content or remix into new formats.
8. Analyze the Performance
This final step is often overlooked or delayed due to busy schedules and the need to focus on the next campaign. Make it a priority, especially after you put a ton of work and resources into creating a newsletter, and take the chance to review the newsletter's performance. Get to know your digital marketing statistics that matter. The “Key Performance Indicators” (KPIs) that we recommend you pay attention to will vary by the newsletter format or distribution channel.
For newsletters sent through email or as a digital asset, your stats will be more easily tracked. KPIs will include:
Unsubscribes to your email list
In the case of a printed newsletter that is handed out or sent through direct mail, the KPIs to watch are:
Coupon or offer redemption
Tools and Inspiration to Start Creating a Newsletter
We’ve outlined eight steps to create and launch a newsletter program for your brand or organization. Whether you spearhead the project on your own or as a team, make sure to find tools that will help make the process easier such as project management and collaboration tools like Google Docs, Asana, or Figma. Tools that improve the newsletter experience are also important to consider. Issuu will make the experience for you, the content marketer, easier, while also delivering a beautiful and interactive newsletter to your customers. It’s also helpful and fun to check out other newsletters for a little inspiration. Issuu.com is home to exciting newsletters from retailers, boutique travel providers, professional groups, nonprofits, and more. Whatever inspiration, tools, or programs you determine are right for your newsletter launch, remember that your newsletter program will be an ongoing project that you can continue to refresh or adjust as you figure out what works best for your organization. Your newsletter will continue to evolve along with your team and brand!
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