Trying to reach your audience with an email newsletter? You need the right tools, the right processes, and the right people behind you. Consider these tips for newsletter success.
Whether you’re starting a newsletter or refreshing on an email product you’ve already built, a lot has to go right before you hit “send.” And that means you need to set yourself up for success with flexible tools and processes, as well as support from across the organization.
How to do that? These tips can get you started:
1. Think hard about your content—and choose your tools carefully. Are you a curator or a writer? Doing essays or advocacy? Be careful to choose the right tools for creating your newsletter, depending on the content you intend to deliver. If you’re just curating links,a tool like MailChimp might be overkill. If you’re focused on heavy data use, something like Substack might not have all the bells and whistles you need. Meanwhile, if your newsletter is text-heavy, you may need a tool and workflow that minimizes manual work, so you’re not doing a lot of copying and pasting. Using tools like Zapier or RSS feeds to automate functionality could create efficiencies in the long run. The less time you’re editing in the interface, the more time you can spend on actual content development and strategy.
2. Build a flexible template. It stinks to set up a newsletter template and then find out, when you want to make changes six months later, that it needs expensive and time-consuming adjustments. Instead, build for flexibility. Rather than hard-coding a template, use a components-based approach that lets you add or eliminate bits and pieces as you go. A few tools that could help with this include the email markup framework MJML, along with online builder tools such as Postcards and Chamaileon.
3. Make the workflow easy to repeat and re-create. “Depending on the type of newsletter you’re sending, preparing a newsletter can be incredibly time consuming, and hitting a strict deadline can be stressful,” Cayleigh Parrish, Fast Company‘s editorial product manager, explains in a blog post. So make sure your process incorporates flexibility and a little deadline wiggle room.
4. Consistent timing is key. If you’re sending a newsletter whenever you feel like it, your readers have no idea when to expect it—and that means they can’t build a rhythm around it. So, what time should you send? There are a whole lot of takes on this, many driven by data. But you know your audience best, so tweak your timing to suit the people you’re trying to reach. Just keep it consistent.
5. Don’t leave the email creation process siloed off from the organization. If a newsletter is intended to reach and engage your full membership, shouldn’t people across your organization have a say in how it’s created? To be clear, you don’t want to invite the strategy team into your email workflow on a daily basis, but people outside your editorial or marketing teams should be involved early on and periodically through the life of the newsletter so that ownership of its success is shared across the organization.