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How to Create an Email Newsletter

How to Create an Email Newsletter

Email has been around for a long time – in fact, chances are it is older than you. It‘s gone a long way since its inception, but the basic mechanisms are still there. It shouldn‘t surprise you, then, that it also has a long history of use in marketing, and that email marketing still endures. In fact, for a lot of businesses and other online services email is still an irreplaceable tool.

Newsletters are among those email-based services, and, in this tutorial, we will show you how to easily create an email newsletter. But not only that: we will first take some time to discuss what an email newsletter is in the first place, and how your WordPress website can benefit from it. If you are already aware of the importance of this marketing tool and only want to know how to create a newsletter, feel free to scroll right down to the section you need.

Here‘s what we would like to talk about:

What is an Email Newsletter

What is an Email Newsletter

An email newsletter is basically an emailed news update. It is often used by businesses or media, but also by online communities, fan and hobby associations, and similar.

Typically, a person has to subscribe to a newsletter to receive updates. They usually do this using a form to submit their email address. In the context of marketing, users who submit their addresses are referred to as leads or contacts.

A business will typically use a newsletter to advertise new additions to their stock, special offers, events, and similar, while an online community might also use them for special events notifications, a fan association might share news from other media, a podcast might notify subscribers about new episodes and so on.

Why Create an Email Newsletter

Why Create an Email Newsletter

Do you remember which websites hosted the last five or so articles you found interesting or helpful? Possibly, if you keep returning to them or if you have to follow them for professional reasons. A lot of your visitors may find your content interesting in the long run, but the first thing that hooked them will have slipped their mind.

Not so if you prompt them to subscribe to your newsletter. You will be keeping your content fresh in their minds, while at the same time supplying them with news on your activities, your content, your stock, your special offers, and everything else they chanced upon your website in the first place.

Not only can you use your newsletter to keep visitors coming to your website, you can also use it to grow your community online and off, as well as your social following.

We have so far been concentrating on the business side of things: a store might send a catalog of new items to entice regular shoppers, and any business might alert interested parties to special offers. Why a news website might want to reach out to followers by email is self-explanatory: discerning readers will appreciate a news digest. A non-profit might want to publicize an event such as a fundraiser or a donation drive, while a fan association might want to publicize a convention or an online event. The why is not related to the type of online activity.

What‘s more, email is personal and independent of any other media. Only the people who subscribe to your list will get your emails, but they will get all of the content you wish to send their way – no chance of their missing an important update.

So, if you keep your emails interesting and on-topic, they will not languish unopened and unread in inboxes, and your visitors will appreciate them.

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Best Practices for Newsletters

Best Practices for Newsletters

Now, as we are about to show you, sending out a newsletter is easy enough. But to make it truly effective, you have to be reasonably certain your subscribers will actually read it. There are no magic formulae which are guaranteed to work, but here’s a list of tips we find useful in this respect:

  • Use a compelling subject line: whether your subscribers click on it or not, they will likely at least read the subject line.
  • Use targeted lists: all your content may not be for everyone. Targeted emails will keep them from appearing random and generic to your audience.
  • Use personalization: your audience will appreciate a personalized subject line. Customize it to be as formal or informal as it suits your brand.
  • Be mindful of the frequency of your emails: Send them too often, and it might seem annoying.
  • Keep them coming: be consistent and regular. If your emails are informative or entertaining, your subscribers will look forward to receiving them even if you are not advertising anything specific.

With all that in mind, let’s get into the details of how to set up an email newsletter.

How to Set Up a Mailchimp Account

The simplest and quickest way to set up and send out email newsletters is to subscribe to a newsletter service. You could try doing it all by hand, old school-like, but then you risk running afoul of an overzealous spam filter, not to mention that it would take an inordinate amount of time if you have a lot of addresses to send to and especially multiple recipient groups to cater to.

There are tons of these services around, but, from our experience, the best option for most small to medium-sized websites is Mailchimp. Mailchimp is an email marketing service, but it has all sorts of other functionalities. All you need to do to get started with Mailchimp is create an email account. You can use literally any email account you like, but there are some limitations if you choose a free email provider.

Once you have an email account, go to Mailchimp‘s home page and click on Sign Up Free.

Sign Up Free

On the next screen, enter your email address, and user name, then choose a password, and hit Sign Up.

Welcome to Mailchimp

You should get an email from Mailchimp at this time. Open it, and click Activate Account.

Activate

You will then be taken to another screen where you need to click I‘m Not A Robot.

Not a Robot

On the next screen, choose a plan. We will go with a free plan for the purposes of this demonstration. When ready, click Next.

Free Plan

Next, you need to provide Mailchimp with some of your business data. First, it‘s the name and business name, and, optionally, website and phone number. Click Continue.

Setup

On the next screen, you need to enter your physical address. Once you have done that, click Continue again.

Address

On the next screen, you need to enter the data on your contacts. Answer to the best of your abilities, then click Continue.

Contacts

You will then be prompted to answer whether you are or will be selling products or services. Answer and click Continue or just Skip this.

Sell

Finally, you can subscribe to additional Mailchimp services if you like, and then click Continue.

Subscribe

Now, Mailchimp is a service with a lot of functionalities and a lot of possibilities for integration with WordPress. Using Mailchimp with WordPress is a topic all its own – and this is why we covered it in a different article. In this article, we will concentrate on sending out a newsletter, but you should know that Mailchimp is a powerful toolkit.

How to Get Started With an Email Newsletter

In order to start sending out your newsletters, you first need some addresses to send them to. In order to import your list of contacts, find the import link on your Mailchimp admin screen.

Add Contacts

On the next screen, select the upload method of your choice. You can upload a file provided it is properly formatted, or simply copy and paste your list of contacts from a spreadsheet, which is what we‘ll do. Click Continue to Upload.

Upload Method

In order for Mailchimp to work with your contacts list, it has to be correctly formatted: as a spreadsheet, with an email address, first name, and last name. Select and copy all the personal data.

Copy Sheet

Paste the email and address data into Mailchimp‘s field, and click Continue to Organize.

Paste Contacts

You next need to add these contacts to a list of Subscribed contacts by selecting that option from the drop-down menu and clicking Continue to Tag.

Organize Your Contacts

Here you can tag your new contacts to make sense of them and make grouping them easier. You can enter any tag, and you even have some suggested tags on the right. Once done, click Continue To Match.

Tag Your Contacts

Next, you need to match the data which Mailchimp doesn‘t recognize by default or else choose not to import it. When it comes to columns containing names, for instance, Mailchimp has no way of attaching any significance to the data. You can do this yourself by clicking on any Not Recognized column and assigning it a label, such as FNAME for your subscribers‘ first name. When you choose the correct label from the menu, click Confirm, and then Finalize Import when satisfied.

Match Column Labels

You will then receive a report for review. If you are satisfied, click Complete Import. If not, you can Cancel it.

Complete

We have used only a single contact for this demonstration. Of course, you can add as many contacts as your plan will allow. Once you have a list of contacts, you can Start a Targeted Campaign.

Start Campaign

Once on the campaign screen, you can finally start sending out your newsletter. First, give your campaign a name by clicking on the Edit name.

In the To section, select the intended audience for your contacts. You can do a lot to filter and select contacts among your contacts. You can also personalize your messages using data which your subscribers have submitted. In our case, the *|FNAME|* tag which corresponded to one of the columns we matched above.

The From section should hold a name of the sender (the default is yours, but you can actually use an assumed name), and an email address.

The Subject section should contain, most unsurprisingly, the subject of your email, and a preview which will appear to the recipient.

Once you are satisfied with this, it‘s time for the content of your email. Click Design Content.

Design Email

On the next screen, select a template from the available selection. We have gone with 1 Column – the first option in the Basic section, but you can choose whichever one best suits your needs.

Select Template

Having selected a template, you will be taken to the email block editor. Use the blocks in the right-hand side menu and edit them.

MailChimp Blocks

We have deleted all the placeholder blocks, and then added our logo as an image block, a personalized message using the *|FNAME|* tag, a boxed text block with some Lorem Ipsum text, a divider, and a social follow block with a Facebook and Twitter icon. Of course, this is just one of the literally unlimited number of options available.

In the menu on the upper right, you can choose to Preview this email in various circumstances, or choose a ready-made Template or save your template for future use.

Once you are satisfied with your settings, click Continue.

Template

Back on the campaign screen, you can give your campaign a link by clicking Edit next to the Campaign Link section. This is useful if there are more contributors to the campaign.

Next down, you can connect your social networks (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to your campaign.

Finally, you can choose which activities you will be tracking and how your content will behave in the Settings & Tracking section.

We will not be using any of these settings at the moment. Once you are happy with your settings, click Send.

Send Newsletter

And that‘s it! Your newsletter is out!

In Conclusion

We‘ve led you step by step towards the creation of an email newsletter. It takes some little setting up, but it‘s really not that much of a problem. The hard part is up to you: people will be submitting their email addresses to you, and they will be expecting relevant, high quality content. You need to deliver on that. What good would it do you to create an email newsletter, if nobody is going to bother to register for it or read it?

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