Six steps to the perfect newsletter

Newsletter

So you have a startup. And you’d like to start sending out regular newsletters. Avoid mass emails and take a more professional approach. It’s easy.

Let’s say you’ve opened a artisan coffee shop, launched a yoga studio, or set up a graphic design office with a friend from school. You want to keep your customers interested by regularly sending them relevant company news. One way to do this is to send out a regular newsletter.

MailChimp

Today we’re going to talk about using MailChimp. Because of its intuitive interface and smart features. Because it’s free if you’re sending out emails to less than 2,000 recipients. Because it’s all online and you don’t have to install anything. And because there is an app for smartphone and tablet. It’s a very easy tool to set up, and offers a great deal of information for anyone who wants to learn more about newsletter marketing.

Step by step

1. Get set up

Registration is very simple and takes about one minute. You can choose between different subscriptions; the first is free, but comes with restrictions on the number of recipients and the number of emails per month. The emails will also be sent with a small ad for MailChimp in the footer. The other subscriptions contain different price plans, with varying numbers of recipients for each monthly fee. The free version is a good place to start and test out the tool. After you’ve registered, the dashboard will appear – your command center. The dashboard allows you to access your settings, design your newsletter and import your contacts. One downside: MailChimp is currently only available in English. Though it’s not exactly rocket science, the set-up might take a little longer depending on your language skills.

2. Add your contacts

Before you write your newsletter, you should be sure about who you’re writing it for. Customers? Potential customers? Employees in a large company? You can only start writing once you know who your newsletter is addressed to, as this is the only way to be sure that the content will be relevant to your target audience. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how well you write – if your target group isn’t interested, you’re wasting your time. You can use MailChimp to create lists which can be filtered according to your requirements. And if you have your contacts ready and sorted, then you can simply import them, which is easily done from an Excel file.

3. Choose the right settings

You can specify what your recipients will see, for example the subject line, the sender, or their form of address. These details help to ensure that your email doesn’t just automatically land in the spam folder. The form of address can be personalized so that each recipient is greeted personally, which will make them feel more closely connected to what they’re reading. You can also adjust how MailChimp tracks who has opened your newsletter, and when and how they have read it. And it offers plenty of explanations about how this all works.

4. Design your newsletter according to your own taste

Now comes the fun part: the design. If you click on “Templates” you’ll be able to design your prospective newsletter. You can create a base template to reuse, or use different templates for different lists. If, however, you only have one contact list, you can simply click directly on “Campaigns” and create a new campaign. It will automatically ask if you want to define a design for this campaign. If you want to send more than one newsletter, though, it’s worth creating a template: MailChimp offers a dozen that you can easily insert your text into. There are also countless designs available if you want to play with the colors or find a suitable theme. And if you have pictures that you’d like to insert? Also not a problem: rag and drop them in just a few seconds. If you are already familiar with HTML, you can design your newsletter from scratch. By the way: MailChimp offers a responsive design that fits the content to the device where the newsletter is being read, so your audience doesn’t have to zoom in on their smartphones to read it.

5. Write good content

So you’ve specified your contacts and created a newsletter design. Now you have to face the Herculean task of finding the right words, which isn’t exactly easy. Think about how many emails you get every day and how many of them you actually read. And? Exactly. So you have to put in a little effort. Think about people, not lists, and try to imagine what these people might be interested in. There is a lot to consider, which is why we’ve written a separate post about how your newsletter will be read.

6. Don’t forget to follow-up

The newsletter has been written, designed and sent. And now? Now you start over, but not before you look through the analysis. This is where you can see how many recipients have opened your newsletter, which posts were clicked on or who has unsubscribed – among other things. This means that over time, you can see which posts were more or less popular and watch how your newsletter develops. Or in the short term, you can use A/B testing to make different versions of the same newsletter to send to separate recipients. For example, you can alter the headlines, send them on different days, or simply change the name of the sender. Then send the more successful variation to the whole list.

To conclude

MailChimp is fantastic if you want a tool that can be quickly set up and doesn’t require you to download a complicated program. It’s perfect to try out because you can do so much with the free version. The tool is very accessible for beginners: every step is explained and helps you to feel supported instead of swamped. However, the extensive customization and analysis options mean that it is still useful for those who have sent newsletters before. And are there any negatives? Yes – one and a half: the limited choice of languages and perhaps also the fact that you can’t download it as a program – which might not be ideal for every company. Recommendation: try it out.

Cover picture via Pexels (CC0 1.0)



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