How To Create an Engaging Newsletter for Your Customers

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As an ecommerce business owner, engaging in a steady stream of communication with your customers can keep them engaged with your brand. Staying in touch with your customers can also keep your brand top-of-mind for them when they’re ready to buy what you sell. This type of outreach should feel natural and not like a blatant ad (they probably see enough of those in their daily lives). Customers will tune you out if you’re constantly bugging them to buy things with pushy sales language and endless product links. 

A better way to talk to your target audience is to create email newsletters full of meaningful, interesting content. Newsletters—which resemble blog posts more than ads—have a high return on investment and are one of the best ways to engage with your base and convert potential buyers into customers and even brand advocates. 

Here’s how to write a newsletter for your business.

What is a newsletter?

A newsletter is a regularly sent written publication that provides information on topics that are interesting to a particular audience. For someone to receive a newsletter, they need to subscribe by providing their email address in a form on a business’s website. 

In ecommerce, a newsletter is often part of a broader email marketing campaign. Unlike traditional email marketing content—which may sometimes read like one long ad—successful newsletters might contain short articles that align with readers’ interests, pique their curiosity, teach them something new (be it about your products, or the wider world). Their primary purpose is to inform and entertain newsletter subscribers to build brand loyalty and foster customer relationships

Four types of newsletters

Email newsletters serve a variety of purposes and reach different audiences. Some, like company newsletters, circulate only among employees, whereas others go to large recipient lists to drive traffic to a website. Some common newsletter formats include:

  • Company newsletter. Company newsletters circulate exclusively within an organization. They typically keep employees up to date on industry news and company initiatives. A well-written company newsletter can foster unity within an organization and prime your workforce for future events and changes.
  • Organization newsletter. An organization newsletter is similar to a company newsletter (the terms are sometimes interchangeable). Whereas company newsletters almost always pertain to a single company, organization newsletters usually represent a group of companies within the same industry, i.e., trade organizations or a nonprofit, charity, or community group. Organization newsletters often focus on industry trends and lobbying efforts that unite various stakeholders within a particular market or interest group.
  • Consumer newsletter. A consumer newsletter is produced by a company and goes out to its target audience, specifically those who signed up to receive the newsletter. The format is pretty broad and the content could be anything that will engage a specific target audience. Typical consumer newsletter content includes product announcements, promotions, short articles on industry trends. 
  • Paid newsletter. A paid newsletter does not typically include marketing content. Instead, most function like a newspaper or magazine, offering news and commentary to subscribers. Substack currently dominates the world of paid subscription newsletters.

How to create a newsletter

Creating a newsletter is one of the easiest ways to step up your marketing efforts and turn casual customers into consistent clients. All you need are some writing chops, an understanding of the format, and a few publication tools.

What tools can you use to write and distribute newsletters?

Many newsletter creators use a marketing platform to draft and share email newsletters. If you’re a Shopify seller, Shopify Email is a logical choice. It’s easy to install through the Shopify App Store and seamlessly integrates with your ecommerce store. 

Other newsletter platforms that work well with Shopify include Mailchimp, Sendinblue, MailerLite, Campaign Monitor, and ConvertKit—all of which offer features like special formatting, pre-scheduling, and layouts that correctly render on both desktop and mobile devices.

Whether you use a creation platform or craft newsletters using your own tools, you must obey applicable privacy laws. Here are some examples of rules and regulations you’ll need to be aware of:

  • CAN-SPAM.The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act prohibits unsolicited bulk emails in the US.
  • GDPR. The General Data Protection Regulation is meant to protect personal data for individuals within the European Union.
  • CASL.The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation helps protect Canadians while ensuring that businesses can continue to compete in the global marketplace.
  • CCPA. The California Consumer Privacy Act sets strict limits on storing and sharing personal email addresses and other information. CCPA applies to any company that might collect data from Californians, not just companies that operate in California, meaning that many companies must abide by CCPA, regardless of where they operate.

Disclaimer: The material shared in this guide is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any specific questions about the legality around sending email, consult a lawyer who specializes in this area.

How to write a newsletter

  • Keep a consistent schedule
  • Write engaging subject lines
  • Respect your readers’ time
  • Format your letter into sections
  • Deliver useful content
  • Issue a call to action
  • Have a goal in mind

The most effective newsletters involve common choices regarding release frequency, language, subject lines, and content. You can also check out Really Good Emails, a site that curates the best emails from around the internet, if you need inspiration.

Here are a few guidelines to help you with your newsletter:

  • Keep a consistent schedule. Regularly publishing helps build and maintain a loyal audience, providing subscribers with content they can look forward to and rely on. Plan the frequency of your newsletter. Many companies opt for quarterly, monthly, or weekly releases. A daily newsletter is also possible but may take more work to maintain. If your company rarely has news to report, try occasional newsletters that accompany new product launches. Your initial release schedule will set expectations for your readers; choose a frequency you can commit to.
  • Write engaging subject lines. Your email subject line can determine how many people open the message and read your newsletter. Grab their attention. For business emails, the average open rate is 21.5%. Improve the results of your email campaigns by using short, snappy subject lines that preview the letter’s content. Time-sensitive words like “last chance” can help boost open rates—but watch out for words that >trigger email spam filters.
  • Respect your readers’ time. Most people are drowning in unopened emails. Even if a recipient clicks on your message and starts reading, you’ll only keep their attention for a limited time. Use short sentences and get to the point. If you have a key takeaway, state it early and repeat it throughout the newsletter.
  • Format your letter into sections. Draft a clear and concise introduction that sets the tone and provides an overview of the newsletter’s content. Use subject headings to break your newsletter into easily digestible sections—ideally, no more than two paragraphs apiece.
  • Deliver useful content. Readers don’t want a steady stream of marketing language. Bring high-quality, relevant content that gives your target audience insights that can help them improve their business or personal lives. For instance, you might offer tips and secrets related to your products and services. You can also include user-generated content from subscribers, such as links to product reviews and how-to videos.
  • Issue a call to action. Use your newsletter to engage readers. A clear and compelling call to action, such as a discount offer or free trial, can encourage them to take the next step. You might include links to your website, your ecommerce homepage, a product page, or another newsletter subscription.
  • Have a goal in mind. Each issue of your newsletter should work toward a larger brand goal. You might drive traffic to a particular landing page on your website with a link. Or, if your goal is to play the long game and build brand equity with your audience, you might provide a sustained stream of helpful content to create a positive association and make your company the first choice for readers down the line.

How to write a newsletter FAQ

What are the elements of an effective newsletter?

A compelling newsletter features:

An intriguing subject line that generates clicks
Helpful information that respects readers’ time
A call to action that asks them to engage or make a purchase
Links leading to your website or ecommerce store
Company information at the end of the message.

Don’t forget to include an unsubscribe option in the email footer (most email publishing platforms have one automatically).

What is the format of a newsletter?

Start your email newsletter with an engaging subject line and preheader (the text next to the subject line in an email inbox). Greet the reader with a brief introduction (one to two sentences), then break out the rest of the message into short, indexed sections (one or two paragraphs long). Include calls to action (i.e., invitations to click on a link, join a new mailing list, or make a purchase). End your newsletter with a footer with company information, links to your website and social media, and an option to unsubscribe.

Does every newsletter need an Unsubscribe button?

Yes. The US CAN-SPAM Act requires every email newsletter to include clear instructions on unsubscribing from future mailings. If you use an email newsletter tool like Shopify Email, all your messages automatically end with an Unsubscribe button in the email footer.