February 22, 2022

How to Create a Newsletter in 9 Easy Steps (Completely Free)

Reading time about 26 min

Looking to create a newsletter but don’t know where to start? With the right tools, you can take your email marketing strategy to the next level without spending a dime. 

Newsletters are an essential part of any effective email marketing strategy. Nearly any type of business can benefit from knowing how to create a newsletter. Whether you’re a small business, ecommerce giant, or anything in between, email newsletters can help build lasting relationships with your clients. 🤝

The best part? Creating your email newsletter can be completely free!

To help you get started, this article will spell out exactly what you need to know create your own newsletter:

  1. Prepare the Newsletter Strategy
  2. Choose a Newsletter Software
  3. Set up Your Newsletter Email List
  4. Create a Newsletter Subscription Form
  5. Attract Newsletter Subscribers
  6. Create Your Newsletter Campaign with Sendinblue
  7. Preview and Send a Test Newsletter
  8. Send Your Newsletter
  9. Track Newsletter Performance

1. Prepare Your Email Newsletter Strategy

Define your email newsletter objectives

Before setting out to create a newsletter, you should define your objectives. Successful newsletters are goal-oriented, audience-specific, and support a larger marketing strategy. 💪

For this reason, the first step to creating a newsletter is planning. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is my target audience and what are their needs?
  • What are the goals of my newsletter? E.g. generate web traffic, increase sales, build better customer relationships, create a loyal following for your content, etc.
  • What type of content am I sending my subscribers? E.g. exclusive offers, blogger content, promotional deals, updates, etc.
  • How frequently will I send my newsletters? 
  • What do my subscribers get from my newsletters?

Decide how your newsletter will add value

One of your top priorities in creating a newsletter should be to provide real value to your subscribers. If your campaigns offer nothing but overly promotional content, your open rates and click through rates will suffer. 😥

For ideas on how to add value to your newsletters, consider:

  • Providing personalized offers and discounts via email automation;
  • Signalling to helpful content on your website (new blog posts, how-to guides, etc.);
  • Linking to gated content (ebooks, training materials, tools or templates, etc.).

At the same time, sending at regular intervals and honing your brand’s image, voice, and tone helps your newsletters come across as reliable and trustworthy. In turn, this gets your subscribers in the habit of receiving genuinely valuable content from your business.

2. Choose A Newsletter Software

You may be asking, “Do I really need a newsletter software?” 🙋

In short, the answer is yes. 

Creating a newsletter is definitely simple, but making sure it gets delivered is another story. If you tried sending a campaign to even just a few hundred contacts in Gmail or Outlook, it’s unlikely to ever reach your subscribers’ inboxes. For this reason, having a dedicated email marketing software is essential.

Why? 

Email deliverability depends on a few factors. Your reputation as a sender, the newsletter content, and technical aspects like domain and IP signatures all impact whether your email arrives in inboxes. Without taking these things into account, your campaigns are likely to be flagged as spam. 🚩

This is where email marketing software comes in. Having a dedicated newsletter service helps increase deliverability and manages the more technical aspects of email marketing for you. An email marketing software should:

  • Serve as your email service provider (ESP). While other ESPs like Gmail and Outlook do the job for individuals, they don’t have the capacity or level of authentication to ensure newsletter deliverability;
  • Provide analytics on your campaign, including open rates, click through rates, and bounce rates;
  • Help you comply with GDPR standards;
  • Allow you to easily create attractive and engaging campaigns.

If you’re looking for an email marketing solution, consider Sendinblue. A free account includes access to our drag-and-drop editor, dozens of free newsletter templates, as well as features like contact management, marketing automation, and transactional emails/SMS. 🤗

To make the most of this guide, create your free Sendinblue account now and follow along step-by-step to create your own newsletter:

3. Set up Your Newsletter Email Lists

The next step to sending newsletters is creating an email list. Broadly speaking, your email list refers to your audience. But there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your campaigns have the greatest possible reach.

First, your email list should be 100% opt-in. This means the people receiving your email need to have given their consent to do so (usually through a sign-up form). This practice not only helps with email deliverability, but is also required under GDPR

Second, you should never buy email lists. Doing so lessens your authority as a sender and will only result in low deliverability rates. While growing your email list is always a priority, double opt-in sign-ups are a much more effective and responsible way to do so.

Third, email lists require pretty constant management. Luckily, email marketing softwares do this for you. 😌 Instead of manually keeping track of unengaged contacts, entering this data in your sales CRM, and segmenting your list, solutions like Sendinblue handle all of this for you.

Next, we’ll walk you through the steps to set up your email list. First, you’ll learn how to import existing contacts. Then, we’ll show you how to create lists and add contacts to them. 

Import existing contacts

Importing existing contacts to your Sendinblue account is easy. Start by clicking “contacts” on the dark blue header at the top of the page.

Screenshot of Sendinblue's email marketing dashboard. Arrow pointing to contacts section of header.

To manually enter contact information, just click on “add a contact” in the top right-hand corner.

Screenshot of Sendinblue's email marketing dashboard, contact section. Arrow pointing to "add a contact."

To add a number of contacts at once, you’ll find a light blue button in the top right-hand corner that reads “import contacts”. Click on it.

Screenshot of Sendinblue's email marketing dashboard, contact section. Arrow pointing to "import contacts".

Now, there are a few options for importing existing contacts to your Sendinblue account:

  • Upload a file (.csv, .txt, and .xlsx)
  • Copy/paste contacts from an Excel spreadsheet (.xls)

Screenshot displaying options to import contacts: either upload a file or copy/paste lists from Excel.

Once you decide which method to use, it’s just a matter of making sure your data is read correctly. For more detailed information on adding existing contacts to your Sendinblue account, take a look at our tutorial

What sets Sendinblue apart from other email marketing services is that you can store as many contacts as you like for as long as you like. (Even on our free plan).

Create an email list

To create and manage your own email lists, start by clicking on “contacts” in the dark blue header once you’re logged into your Sendinblue account.

Screenshot of Sendinblue's email marketing dashboard. Arrow pointing to contacts section of header.

Next, click on “lists” in the vertical menu on the left-hand side.

Screenshot of Sendinblue's email marketing dashboard, contacts section. Arrow pointing to "lists" section of left-hand menu.

From there, you’re able to add a new list by clicking on the light blue button in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Screenshot of Sendinblue's platform, contact section, lists management. Arrow pointing to "add a new list" button.

Choose a name, and you’re ready to go!

Screenshot of naming field for new lists on Sendinblue's platform.

Create as many lists as you like and manage them for free using Sendinblue’s advanced segmentation features included on all plans. 

To add contacts to your new list, return to the contacts page.

Screenshot of Sendinblue's platform, contact section. Arrow pointing to contacts section of left-hand menu.

Select the contacts you want to add to your list by ticking the boxes on the left of their email addresses.

 Screenshot of contact management page on Sendinblue's platform.

Next, select “+Action.” Here, you will see a few options. To add contacts to the list you just created, select “copy to list,” then “existing list.”

From here, you’ll be prompted to select which email list to add the contacts to.

Screenshot of

And just like that, you’ve set up your first email list. Like with contacts, Sendinblue allows you to create as many email lists as you like, even on the free plan.

4. Create an Email Subscription Form for Your Website

One of the easiest ways to grow your contact list is to capture subscribers from your existing website traffic. As an example, take a look at the sign-up form we use for our Sendinblue newsletter:

Screenshot of Sendinblue blog with featured newsletter sign-up form.

To create a sign-up form for your website, head to the “contacts” tab on the dark blue header at the top of the page.

Next, select “forms” from the menu bar on the left-hand side of the page.

Follow the prompts to select the type of form you’d like to create for your audience. (Subscription, unsubscription, or update of account information).

From there, adjust the form to include whatever fields you need. Then, personalize it with your own content and branding. 

Screenshot of Sendinblue's sign-up form editor.

Clarity: Get straight to the point. Explain what value your subscribers can expect from your newsletters and how often they’ll receive them.

Friction: Make the sign-up process as easy as possible. Reduce friction by only asking for the information you need (i.e. an email address and maybe a first name).

Confirmation: Consider implementing a double opt-in process to ensure that your list consists only of people who genuinely want to receive your email newsletter. This will help your deliverability rate.

Welcome email: Send your new subscribers a welcome email to make a good first impression. For more details, check out this article on what makes effective welcome emails.

Add the subscription form to your website

Adding your new subscription form to your website is simple thanks to the editor’s built-in share function. As the last step of creating your subscription form, you’ll be presented with options on how to share and/or embed your form. 

First, you’ll find a quick share link you can use in emails or on your social media. 

Second, you’ve got a few options when it comes to embedding the form on your website. The simplest way is to copy and paste the auto-generated iFrame version of the form into your website editor.

If you want to further customize your form, you can find the HTML versions in the tabs to the right.

5. Attract Newsletter Subscribers

Now that you’ve designed your newsletter sign-up form, it’s time to make good use of it! 

When deciding where to place your sign-up forms, it’s important to strike a balance between prioritizing visibility and being mindful of the user experience. Of course, you want as many people to see and use the form as possible. But interrupting potential customers’ website browsing won’t do any favors for your sales. 📉

Features like pop-ups, live chat windows, and lead magnets can do wonders for lead generation and growing your subscriber base. That said, it’s important to be mindful of their placement.

If these features disrupt the browsing experience, they can even hurt your search engine ranking. To avoid this, you should always give your audience a chance to naturally interact with your website before showing them a pop-up, chat box, or lead magnet.

Take a look at this lead magnet we use at Sendinblue:  

We recommend placing features like this in the blog section of your website. Or whatever part of your website provides your audience with real value. Think: guarded content, reference pages, brand updates, etc. 

If people spend time interacting with your high-quality content, there’s a good chance they’re the same people who would be interested in subscribing to your newsletter. 🙌

Speaking of bloggers, incorporating relevant CTA buttons in your articles is a great way to guide users through your valuable content. Linking to related pages and encouraging users to sign up for an account goes a long way in terms of building trust between you and your audience. Never underestimate the power of organic growth! 🌱

Along the same lines, your social media followers are likely to be interested in your newsletter. Don’t forget to share the form across your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts too.

Another practical way to attract newsletter subscribers is just after checkout. If you’re an ecommerce business, try including a sign-up form after payment. For brick and mortar shops, having a clipboard with sign-ups is also effective. After a while, your list may attract more and more new subscribers thanks to the bandwagon effect

6. Create Your First Newsletter Campaign in Sendinblue

Here are a few tips on how to create a newsletter using the Sendinblue drag and drop editor. Start by clicking on the “email” button on the left-hand side menu.

Next, click “create a new campaign” button in the top right-hand corner.

Add the email subject line

From there, you’ll be prompted to fill out details about your campaign. This is where you’ll name your campaign for internal use, then write your subject line and preview text.

Add the sender information

Next, you’ll want to add your sender information. Choose a registered sender on your Sendinblue account, then write your “from name.” The “from name” is what will be displayed in your email subscribers’ inboxes and should be something recognizable to your audience.

In the advanced settings, you can also customize your greetings, unsubscribe links, and update profile forms. Personalizing your email newsletters in this way helps improve open and click through rates. 

Design your newsletter

Next comes the fun part— designing your newsletter! With Sendinblue’s drag and drop editor, making eye-catching, professional email campaigns is easy and doesn’t take a lot of time. Select the perfect email template. (Or, design your own). Upload your brand kit. Choose from our selection of stock photos. Then add your newsletter copy. Easy peasy! 🍋

If you’re looking for further customization options, Sendinblue also allows you to code your own newsletters from scratch. For this tutorial, though, we’ll stick to the drag and drop editor.

Screenshot of Sendinblue's drag and drop newsletter editor.

Good to know: All of Sendinblue’s newsletter templates are fully responsive, meaning they adjust their display across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. Email design has never been easier!

What to include in your newsletter

Adapt and create your newsletter design to match your brand identity

Your newsletter design should align with the brand identity you’ve created through your other communication channels. This helps your business come across as reliable and credible.

To communicate your brand identity from the get-go, include your logo at the top of the newsletter. (Our default template comes ready with a block just for this purpose). 😉

From there, feel free to import your brand kit (fonts, color palettes, etc.) into the editor to make for easy, consistent content creation. To save time in the future, consider saving a template so your branding is ready to go next time.

Start with the most important information

To help your readers get the most out of your newsletter, try using the “inverted pyramid” structure. 📝

Borrowed from journalism, the inverted pyramid is a writing tactic that means starting with your most newsworthy information and following with supporting details. Given users’ short attention spans, the concept works well in digital spaces too.

When readers open your newsletter, they often don’t have time to read every last detail. That’s why prioritizing the most relevant information is so important. Special offers, brand updates, new product launches, and new featured content should always be the first thing you give to your readers.

What’s more, structuring your newsletter this way doesn’t necessarily mean your subscribers will ignore the rest of your content. If anything, you win their extended attention by giving them what they want first. From there, intrigued readers will likely continue on through your email. 👩‍💻

Pay special attention to your calls to action

A call to action (or CTA) is a button or prompt aimed at getting the reader to perform a specific action (e.g. clicking through to an article, visiting your site to make a purchase, etc.).

Calls to action are responsible for driving traffic to your site, generating sales, and bolstering your social media following. They’re one of the most important aspects of any marketing campaign, so be sure to optimize them when creating a newsletter. 🚀

How to make a newsletter CTA button that converts:

  • Choose a color that stands out from the rest of the newsletter.
  • Use action words that encourage readers to do something.
  • Place it strategically. The CTA should be visible to readers but not overly disruptive to reader flow.

CTA links are most effective when targeting a specific landing page, blog post, or discount offer. Making a CTA that sends readers to your homepage won’t do much for conversions. Your logo is a great place to link to your homepage, but save your CTAs for targeted click-throughs. ➡️

And make sure you let readers know where they’re headed by labelling the CTA with actionable phrases like, “shop our spring/summer collection” or “sign up for our newsletter.”

Include links to your social media profiles

Your newsletter isn’t just an email. Think of it as part of your overall digital marketing strategy.  It’s the perfect place to link your other digital marketing channels, particularly social media.

Building a loyal and engaged audience across channels means linking between those channels. 🔗

Social media in particular plays an important role here. Gaining followers on Instagram or Facebook is a bit like gaining subscribers to a newsletter. It gives you direct access to your audience’s feed and inbox. This straight-shot to your audience is what makes social media such a powerful marketing tool. 

To maximize your social media presence, include CTAs linking to your various platforms. In Sendinblue’s editor, it’s easy to do. Select the “social” tab from the left-hand side menu.

Then, choose whichever social media you want to include. (There are ready-made CTA buttons for dozens of social media platforms available). Simply add the links to the fields on the left-hand side menu and you’re all set!

Once you’re happy with your newsletter design, click the blue “continue” button in the top right-hand corner of the page. 

Choose your contacts lists

The next step is deciding which lists you want to target with your campaign. Simply select those you’re targeting in this campaign, and you’re ready to go.

You can also narrow down your recipients by selecting “don’t send to unengaged contacts” or by applying customized filters like you see below. Both these features help improve email deliverability and connect with your subscribers in a more targeted way.

7. Preview and Send a Test Email

The final step will show you a preview of your campaign and confirm the settings you selected. But first, you should always test your campaign before you email clients. Doing so will let you see if there are any issues once the email lands in inboxes (both on desktop and mobile devices).📲 

To test your campaign, click on “send a test” in the top right-hand corner.

Next enter your or your marketing team’s email address and click “send a test.”

Once your campaign arrives in your inbox, check to see that all your features display properly and that there aren’t any typos. (Be sure to check on your mobile device too). 

If you want to test different versions of the same newsletter to see which works best with your audience, try setting up an A/B test. This is a great technique for deciding between different subject lines, CTA buttons, and sections of copy.

Check out this Help Center article for more information: Creating A/B Tests for Your Email Campaigns

8. Send Your Newsletter

The final step before your newsletter reaches your audience is to schedule your campaign. Start by clicking on the blue “schedule” button in the top right-hand side of the page.

Next, you’ll be prompted to select a sending time. Here, you have a few options. First, you can send your email campaign immediately. Second, you can select a specific date and time to send. 📅

The third option is using Sendinblue’s send time optimization functionality. This uses data from your previous campaigns to determine the best send time for each of your contacts. This means that not all your subscribers will receive the email at the same, but typically leads to higher open rates.

9. Track Newsletter Performance

Congrats! You’ve successfully created a newsletter with Sendinblue. 🥳 Your work’s not over yet, though…

Reviewing your newsletter performance is an essential part of an effective email marketing strategy. Metrics like open rate, click through rate, unsubscribe rate, and bounce rate are absolutely necessary to track. 

  • Open rate: Your email open rate tells you the percentage of total recipients who opened your campaign. For example, if 100 contacts receive your email but only 50 open it then your open rate is 50%.
  • Click through rate: The click-through rate represents the percentage of recipients who clicked a link in your email but only for those who opened it. For example, if you send an email to 100 contacts, 50 of them open it, and 25 of these openers click a link, your click-through rate is 50%.
  • Unsubscribe rate: The unsubscribe rate tells you the percentage of recipients who clicked to unsubscribe from your emails in a campaign. For example, if 100 contacts receive your email and 5 of them choose to opt out from future emails, your unsubscribe rate is 5%.
  • Bounce rate: The bounce rate refers to the percentage of emails that fail to deliver because they were returned by the recipient’s server. For example, if out of 1,000 emails 5 bounce then the bounce rate is 0.5%.
    • Soft bounces: a temporary delivery failure, for example the recipient’s server is down or their mailbox is full.
    • Hard bounces: the email will never be delivered, for example if an email address is incorrect or no longer exists.

Keeping track of your email campaign metrics helps for a few reasons. First, it can flag any technical issues in your campaign. Further, it shows you what type of content, frequency, and timing work for your audience. Altogether, your campaign metrics help you work toward continuous improvement within your overall email marketing strategy. 

Conclusion

And there you have it folks— how to create your very own email newsletter! 🎉

Newsletters are an excellent way to engage with your clients, expand your brand’s reach, and increase sales. Without a doubt, they are an essential part of any effective marketing strategy. 

If you haven’t already, consider signing up for Sendinblue’s monthly newsletter. It’s full of helpful tips and expert advice to help you bolster your marketing strategy.

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