What is a Newsletter? Free Templates, Design Tips, and Software

Updated Aug 3, 2022.
What is a Newsletter - Free Templates, Design Tips, and Software

Ask any marketer to mention their best-performing marketing channels, and one of their top picks will be the newsletter. When utilized well, email newsletters can deliver stable Return of Investment (ROI) and other added benefits.

If you own an online store or blog and the email newsletter is not an integral part of your email marketing campaigns, you are missing out on a lot of benefits. 

One of the tough questions you have to answer for your business is how to promote your business to your customers without boring them. Through the use of newsletters, you can keep your customers engaged without having to bore them with sales messages at all times. 

If you do not have a newsletter to promote your business, you need to consider using it. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the newsletter, including how to create, name, write, and use it. You will also learn how to track the performance of your newsletter campaign and the best newsletter example.

Let’s get started.

What is a Newsletter?

A newsletter is a tool that delivers important and valuable information, opinions, advice, for a specific set of people. It is used by businesses and organizations to relay information to their customers and subscribers. 

Companies use newsletters to pass information and update customers about the latest products and services. You can use the newsletter to engage your target audience in a way that keeps them up to date on whatever information you are passing. 

Newsletters are the primary tool of email marketing. It is a direct and easy way to your audience's inbox, where you can share valuable content and promote sales.

The goal of the newsletter is to maintain regular contact with your customers and prospects and to deliver information about your business, service, and product to your email list.

Email newsletters are targeted at building a relationship with customers and prospects and not just for sales. They help nurture customer loyalty through the use of valuable content and boost customer lifetime value (CLV).

The Widespread Usage of Email
Source: Oberlo

Newsletter Best Practices

The differences between a good newsletter and a bad newsletter are numerous. Typically, a good newsletter sends out valuable content to its customers and generates quality leads while a bad newsletter sends out poor content that eventually ends up in the spam folder. A poor newsletter can trigger your customers and prospects to unsubscribe from your business email list.

Here are 7 of the best newsletter practices to ensure you optimize the potential of your business newsletter.

1. Get to Know Your Subscribers

The first step to crafting captivating email copy for your newsletter is to identify your audience. This step will help you categorize your email list and know the kind of email you want to send to them. 

Understanding your audience is one important thing you need to do before you start sending emails to them. You need to ask yourself these questions:

  • How and when can you communicate with your audience? 
  • What kind of vernacular can your target audience relate to depending on the kind of business you run? 
  • What kind of activities distinguish your customers from the general public? 

You might not be able to address the questions but with time you will get to know more about your subscribers through insights and data. Subsequently, you will be able to make changes to other emails that will proceed with it.

2. Use Double Opt-in for Creating a More Engaged List

If you have a lot of people that opt-out when they receive your newsletter, they might not be interested in the content of your newsletter. But have you ever considered using the double-opt-in technique when you want people to subscribe to your newsletter?  

A double opt-in technique is when a person signs up for your email list and has to confirm their subscription. Getting their email address is not enough, they must also click on the link in a confirmation email to authenticate it. 

When a subscriber’s email address is added to your newsletter email list, your email marketing software sends a confirmation email that will ask the subscriber to click on the link to confirm a subscription. When the subscriber clicks the link, you can now send a welcome email. If the subscriber does not, you do not need to send an email to them.  

Double opt-in is the best way to be sure that someone who signs up for your newsletter is the actual owner of the email address and is also interested in your content.

3. Let Your Audience Know What They Will Receive from Your Emails

Your subscriber needs to know what they will be receiving after they sign up to the newsletter of your company or brand. Newsletters inform your subscribers about new products, coupons, best deals, your services, or notification of a blog post you posted. 

Sending emails that meet the expectation of your recipient will help to keep your subscribers engaged and increase your email marketing performance. Your subscribers need to know the type of content and how often they will be getting it.

4. Create a Compelling Subject Line

The first thing your subscriber will see is your subject line. Since it is their first encounter with your email, you have to create a healthy first impression. The subject line sets their impression and can either make them ignore the email or click to open it.  Based on the subject line, subscribers can decide whether to open your email or not.

Compelling Subject Line
Source: OptinMonster

As a marketer or business owner, it is necessary to create a compelling subject line that will make your subscribers interested in your content. The only way to ensure your subscribers open your emails is if the subject line is catchy enough. 

There are a few tips you can use to create compelling subject lines:

  • Keep it short, it should not  be too wordy
  • Use appropriate words
  • Use  emojis to spice things up
  • Keep the language centered on the recipient
  • Ensure your subject line is in line with the content of your email

Without a compelling subject line, your email newsletter may end up in the trash without your subscriber even taking a look at it.

5. The Use of Preheader Text to Increase Your Chances

Your preheader text and subject line will be the only content your audience is guaranteed to see without clicking on the newsletter. Using a preheader can be one of the techniques to boost your open rates. 

The email preheader is the first line that you see below the subject line in your subscriber inbox. It is a part of the text that displays the succeeding subject line. The email preheader is very easy to see immediately when you open your inbox. It provides prior information to what is inside the email.

What you write as your preheader text will help to determine if your email newsletter will be opened or not. Today, subscribers' email inbox has a lot of brands that want to stand out. And even if they have signed up for your newsletter, they still filter what to open. Your email preheader which gives insight on what is in your email can give you an edge over others.

6. Personalize your Emails

We all hear about personalization as one of the top email newsletter practices, but do we know what personalization entails? 

Personalization can come in many forms. The popular strategy is using your subscriber’s name in the preheader text or subject line. This style is widely used because your email has a higher chance to be opened.

Personalized emails should be sent to your audience, they bridge the gap between you and your audience. You will be more inclined to open an email that is tailored to your needs. Personalized emails can include information about a previous purchase of your customer or an email to wish them a happy birthday. An email like that will make them feel special. You can even give a discount on their birthday.

7. Call-to-Action Buttons

The Call-to-Action (CTA) is the highest point of the email. It is where the story you are trying to pass down to your audience will play out or not. You need to build up your story with a perfect and compelling subject line, preheader, content, and design. 

When the reader reaches the CTA button, then they should be ready to click on it. CTAs are necessary buttons for conversion. You can make your subscribers take various actions through these buttons. They can follow you on social media and also shop for things on your website. 

How to Create a Newsletter

A newsletter is an excellent marketing and communication tool. It is one of the best strategies to keep your customers notified. Newsletters are cost-efficient and yield good results. This is why you need to put your full attention when building it. 

The first thing you need to know when creating an email newsletter is to decide your goal. Is it just to keep your brand in the mind of your audience or to convert customers? 

When you decide on what you want to do with your email newsletter, then you can build a template that will suit your brand. Using your brand colors and logo make your newsletter unique and easily identifiable to your business.

The art of creating the right email newsletter is delicate. You need to create the template and also draw the general layout. It must have good taste, copywriting ability, creativity, and a good knowledge of  HTML. Hiring a web developer and graphic designer at this stage can help you structure how the newsletter will be displayed on various devices.

The content you will like to share with your audience can be content from your website or social media. By doing this, you connect your audience with content that interests them and also grows your brand in the process. 

There are steps you need to take while creating your newsletter for your business.  

1. Your Email Marketing Software

When creating your newsletter, three are a lot of email newsletter software you can use to build a template and deliver your final content to your audience. Examples include:

You can either create your newsletter from the scratch or choose any available templates provided by your email newsletter tool.

2. Pick an Email Newsletter Template

Once you decide on the email marketing tool you want to use to make your newsletter, you need to find a template that suits your needs. Having a rough idea can help in deciding the type of template you want. 

Email marketing tools have a series of templates you can pick from. Pick the one that is based on what you need and also choose a mobile-friendly one. A graphic designer and web developer can assist you in knowing how it will be displayed on different devices. Email marketing tools can also provide this service.

3. Customizing Your Template

Your email must be identifiable. Branding matters a lot. Your email newsletter must be aligned with your brand. Subscribers should be able to identify your email amongst other emails in their inboxes.

You can change colors in the template to match your brand colors, create compelling subject lines and preheaders, and create your call to action (CTA) button.

4. Personalizing Your Newsletter

Personalization is a very important marketing strategy, It is a must for big and small enterprises to personalize their email newsletter. Personalization is the best way to connect to their audience. 

Customers need to feel that emails sent to them are created personally for them. Their names can be included in the preheader of emails sent to them and also offer discounts on their birthday.

5. Add Plain and Alt Text in Your Content

Alt-text is used in case a picture is not loaded. It is important to include alt text so your audience can understand what they are looking at because some email providers will not load images well. If your call-to-action button is an image, your click-through rate might reduce but alt text is there to save the day.

6. Launch Your Newsletter Campaign

When your newsletter campaign is ready, it is important to test the delivery rate of your email newsletter.  It will let you know how your newsletter campaign displays on the most popular browsers and if other challenges are affecting its deliverability.

How to Name My Newsletter

A newsletter name is a chance to stand out amongst other newsletters. You can gain readers through your content. Everything you need to write must have a good sense of purpose and also must be meaningful to your audience. 

Having a clever newsletter name is good but it is even better if it is descriptive. Your newsletter name must be able to describe what you are trying to showcase to your audience. Looking at your newsletter name once should give a short description of what it entails. 

The type of name you use should determine what your newsletter is about. Imagine a financial company using its newsletter name as “Daily Seedvest” or “Weekly Seedvest,”  from its name you know it is going to be investment tips and you know how often it will come up in your inbox.

You can also brainstorm a list of your favorite newsletter name ideas you would like to use and ask friends or colleagues to give reviews on them. This step can help make your decision easier. 

Having a newsletter name is important. Here are some reasons why you need to give your newsletter a compelling name.

  • A compelling newsletter name will surely interest anyone who sees it, this means adding more audience to your newsletter.
  • A unique newsletter name will allow your audience to easily locate your emails quickly in their inboxes.
  • Making your newsletter name simple and unique will encourage people to share it through word-of-mouth marketing.
  • The goal is to have a lot of audiences who are interested in your newsletter. A good newsletter name will make your audience have this feeling that they are part of something exciting. 

There are plenty of ways to come up with newsletter names. You just have to pick the best fit so your newsletter name can be unique amongst all other newsletter names in the inbox of your audience. These are ways to come up with a unique and great newsletter name:

  • Your newsletter name must describe the content you will be writing about. A first glance at your newsletter name should give out the content of what your newsletter will be about. If your newsletter is about the weather, investment, tech, or cooking, make sure you choose a name that perfectly describes it.
  • Creativity matters a lot. Your newsletter name can contain alliterations. It makes it very catchy and will be remembered by people.
  • Brainstorm multiple newsletter names. Make sure you have a lot of newsletter name ideas because this is the only way you can decide on which name to pick that best describes your newsletter contents.
How to Name My Newsletter
Source: ConvertKit

How to Write a Newsletter

Is writing for a web part of your skill? If yes, then you do not have a problem writing content for your newsletter.

Your newsletter should have compelling headlines, engaging preheaders and the paragraphs should be easy to read. You need to keep your sentences short and also do not forget about driving traffic back to either your website or your social media page. 

A call to action button should be included to motivate your audience to continue to the next task either to continue reading on your website or lead them to your shopping page.

Here are some ways to write a good newsletter:

1. Know the Goal of Your Newsletter

There are questions you need to ask yourself when you want to determine the goal of your newsletter.

  • What are you trying to gain with your newsletter?
  • Do you want your audience to buy something or do you just want your brand known to your subscribers?
  • Do you want to educate your subscribers?

Answering these questions is necessary for determining the goals of your newsletter. The content of your newsletter must go along with your goals.

2. Provide Valuable Content

This is important because nobody wants to read boring kinds of stuff and we all know a newsletter is a form of advert. We need to be sure we are giving interesting and useful content that your audience might want to read. 

Make sure you keep your readers captivated. This is why you need to know who your newsletter is directed at. There are also possibilities that your newsletter audience does not want to read anything about your product and services most of the time. People also love to know when sales are going on. You can try to balance your newsletter to be more educational and also add promotion to it.  

3. Use Good Images

Using a good photo is a great partner to a well-written article. You need to choose a photo that goes well with your content and make use of high-quality images. Make sure the image aligns with the main color of your brand. 

Most importantly, your image should have alt text. This will appear when images are not loaded in an email. This is very necessary if your call to action buttons are images. You have to make sure people can click on your call to action button even when the image is not enabled.

4. Pick the Best Time to Send Your Emails

Your opening rate is not only determined by your content. Sending your newsletter at the right time can increase your open rate

You should start imagining when your audience gets up and other strategy times they are free to read their emails. Your newsletter can end up in a full inbox of other newsletters your audience has signed up for if you do not send it at the right time.

5. Write for Your Audience

You should write in a way that your audience understands. This means using layman’s terms is best and also explains every industry word you feel your readers will not understand. 

Proofreading your newsletter will also let you see any words you think you need to explain to your readers better and also help identify grammar or spelling mistakes. A writing mistake can reduce your writing credibility as well as your brand. A typo error can be overlooked in a 2,000-word blog post rather than an email of 100 words.

6. Segment Your Audience

Segmenting your audience is one of the secrets of a prosperous email newsletter campaign. Even when your article is great, it might still be pointless to your readers. 

You need to make sure you are sending the right content to the right person. Information such as gender, age, income level, and company position can tell a lot about a person’s interests. Getting information about your subscribers in the sign-up process will be helpful for demographic segmentation. 

Be careful when asking for information about your audience, asking for too much information from your audience can scare them away and will not make them sign up for your email newsletter.

Using the right email newsletter technique, you can easily win a lot of people. Regularly posting your newsletter will keep you in your audience’s mind but not send out your newsletter too frequently so it does not annoy them.

Brief Checklist of Newsletter Campaign
Source: Brafton

How to Use a Newsletter to Drive Marketing and Business Goals

Email newsletters can be one of the best engagement options in a company toolbox. It is the most preferred way of communication between brands and the audience. The impact you can get from a newsletter depends on the type of communication you would like to have with your subscribers.

Using a newsletter, your subscriber’s interest in your brand has been proven immediately they subscribed, even if they have made a purchase or not. The newsletter is used to connect traffic back to your website. One of the goals of your marketing newsletters is to redirect your subscribers back to your website where they can purchase your product and also for brand building. 

You need to consider your marketing and business goals before launching your newsletter.  There are plenty of reasons why newsletters are one of the best channels for marketing strategy. They are easy to operate, cost-efficient, yield better results, and are versatile. Pretty pictures, sales promos, discounts for birthdays, and personalized messages can be sent through email.

For Driving Sales

Sales are the main objective of using email marketing. Through your newsletter, you can increase sales by either taking a direct or indirect approach.

A direct approach is to drive people from your newsletter to your website through the call to action button. Your subscribers see a call to action that will lead them to your shopping website where they can make purchases. 

You can also promote your new products by stating it in your newsletter, this will increase the sales of the new product. Through your newsletter, you can remind your subscribers of the product they viewed on your website that they have not purchased yet.

For Boosting Brand Awareness and Building Customer Relationships

Newsletters are used to increase brand awareness among email marketers. The design of your newsletter will set the tone of your email and make a great impression on your audience. 

Branding your marketing assets will help to create brand recognition. The logo and color design of your brand will be the same as the template of your newsletter. Your newsletter content can play a major role in promoting brand awareness. Share content that is enjoyable, relatable, and shareable.

Newsletters can be used to engage in a long-term relationship between your customers and also drive purchases. Your newsletter technique should be on helping your customers be more interested in your business. 

Focus your newsletters on bridging the links between your audience and you. You can use earning referrals and also ask to increase loyalty among your subscribers. Create newsletters that incorporate adverts and promotions and also have relevant content that helps build relationships between your customers. Discount sales on their birthday can be added to the content of the newsletter. 

Interacting with your audience can help you gain a higher return on investment (ROI) for your business. Using newsletters with the help of a segmentation strategy can help to share your content to the right audience at the right time.

Email List Segmantation Result
Source: Bloggingwizard

Tracking the Performance of My Newsletter Campaign

Tracking your newsletter campaign performance will assist you in making the necessary changes that will increase your ROI. You need to track the following Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Delivery Rate, Bounce Rate, Click-through Rate, and Open Rate.

1. Delivery Rate

How many people did you send your newsletter to? How many people got them? All the work you put into creating a newsletter campaign is useless if the emails sent do not get to your target audience’s inbox. 

Factors Affecting Email Deliverability
Source: SendX

Tracking the delivery rate of your newsletter campaign can help you spot if any deliverability issues need fixing. Some common deliverability issues include wrong email addresses and emails entering the spam or promotions folder instead of the inbox.

Delivery Rate = (Amount of Emails Sent – The Number of Bounce Emails) / Amount of Emails  x 100

You should have a list of engaged and active subscribers. Trim your email list of invalid emails.

2. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate shows the emails that you sent but not delivered due to certain factors. There are two kinds of emails that do not deliver; the hard bounce and the soft bounce. 

A soft bounce is prompted by temporary issues such as a faulty server, full inbox, or email that might be too big for an audience’s email program. Hard bounces are permanent issues such as invalid or non-existing email addresses. 

Bounce Rate = Amount of Bounces / Number of Emails Sent x 100

You must always clean your subscriber list. Your email list must be updated. Ensure you have a correct list of your subscribers so you will not be seen as an unwanted sender.

5 Ways to Reduce Email Bounce Rate
Source: CareerCliff

3. Click-through Rate

Click-through rate is the percentage of subscribers who click on your call to action button to your website. It is necessary for your sales goals. 

Your click-through rate is the main key performance indicator for your email marketing. Click-through rates can let you know if your content is interesting or not. It shows how interested your subscribers are and lets you know they read a part of your newsletter. 

Click-Through Rate = Amounts of Clicks / (Amounts of Emails Sent – Amounts of Bounced Emails) x 100

Average Email Click Through Rate
Source: Blog.aweber

4. Open Rate

The open rate of your emails is the exact number of subscribers who received and opened your newsletter. This metric shows how good your subject lines are and the topics that are interesting to your audience.

Open Rate = Amounts of Opened Emails / (Amounts of Emails Sent – Amounts of Bounced Emails) x 100

Email Open Rate Infographic
Source: EngageBay

5. List Growth

List growth can let you know if your business is growing. It is the number of people that subscribed, minus the number of people that unsubscribed and dead email.

List Growth = Number of New Subscribers – Number of Unsubscribes

Newsletter Ideas

A newsletter can look like a big worrisome task to do and you might be thinking about how you will be able to deliver quality content to your subscribers every month. Once you start it gets easier. Some of the best newsletter ideas you can use include:

  • Know what your subscribers want to read. You should be able to send your audience the content that they will be interested in reading.
  • Send trendy topics to your subscribers. Using a trendy topic in your newsletter will give them insight into what is going on around them. They will be more interested since your newsletter makes them know more of what is going on around them.
  • Your customer’s success story. A success story from a customer can be included in your newsletter. It will motivate other customers to stay in the brand.
  • A good design speaks a lot. You need your readers to be focused on what they read in your newsletter. A good eye-catching design that aligns with high-quality images will make them read through your newsletter.
  • A contest or giveaway. A giveaway or discount in your newsletter frequently can help increase the opening rate of your subscribers. People will likely open your newsletter when the subject line is about a giveaway or discount. This will keep your brand in their minds and they are likely to open even when it is not about the discount.

Best Newsletter Examples

Creating the desired newsletter is not easy and it requires great planning, amazing design, and an eye for detail. You need to have a clear understanding of your subscribers for you to be able to deliver content that makes them stay on your subscriber list. A good content marketing strategy needs a great newsletter. It helps to direct their buyer’s journey. Some of the best email newsletter examples include:

1. Netflix

Email Newsletter Example for Entertainment (Movie-streaming) Companies

Netflix is an Email Newsletter Example for Entertainment Companies
Source: CoSchedule

You can either love or hate Netflix but the way they engage with their users is top-notch. Netflix carries out email newsletter campaigns as part of their strategy to keep their customers engaged and up to date about their latest offerings. 

The movie-streaming giant uses its newsletters to announce new features and promote its top shows and movies. They also use it to re-engage lost subscribers who have not opened their Netflix application for a long time and to drive conversion. 

Netflix sends out its newsletter weekly and uses multiple CTAs that make it easy for users to either watch or add to their playlist.

2. NYTimes

Newsletter Example for Media and News Agencies

NYTimes is a Newsletter Example for Media and News Agencies
Source: NYTimes

The New York Times newsletter “The Morning Briefing” is one of the most prominent daily newsletters. It provides its subscribers with current events during their morning coffee. 

One of the reasons why the NYTimes “The Morning Briefing” newsletter is so successful is that it understands what its audience wants and supplies that to them. The New York Times newsletter delivers summaries of the top trending news.

3. National Geographic

Newsletter Example for Discovering and Exploration Channels  

The National Geographic newsletter has a way of captivating its subscribers. They have done a great job in putting their name in the minds of their audience. 

National Geographic uses strong imagery along with their text which explains these images. It exposes readers to fascinating topics and also lets them read about the greatest crisis facing our waters.

4. Foundr

Newsletter Example for Business and Entrepreneurship Blogs

Foundr is a world-renowned entrepreneur magazine. It is known for giving advice and always sharing stories of entrepreneurs that have achieved success in various businesses.

They make use of personalization by mentioning the subscriber’s name in the greeting and making sure the email is personalized for every subscriber.

Start Creating a Profitable Newsletter Today

Newsletters are a popular medium through which businesses use to regularly engage and build relationships with their customers. Opening a newsletter for your business is easy, getting it to be a profitable one requires strategy and a deep understanding of what resonates with your target audience.

Creating a profitable newsletter today requires creating a compelling subject line and preheader text, using quality newsletter images and designs, personalizing your newsletter and customizing the design to fit your brand image, and utilizing call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

If you want to effectively create and manage a profitable newsletter, you have to track your newsletter campaigns. Through this, you can easily get statistics that show you what works and what does not work. Some of the statistics you want to track include your open rate, delivery rate, and click-through rate.

Automating your newsletter with email newsletter software makes your tasks easier to create, track, and manage. Constant Contact is the best email newsletter software with a wide range of stunning newsletter templates. If you are a content creator, ConvertKit is the ideal email newsletter software to use.

Sendinblue is the best email marketing provider for scheduling emails. Moosend is the most comprehensive email marketing software and a great pick for startups and individuals looking to cut costs while managing email newsletters.

Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.