[359] How to create an email newsletter people look forward to receiving

Are you putting off launching an email newsletter because you don’t know what to put in it?

Or perhaps you started sending an email newsletter…and then hit ‘pause’ because you weren’t sure if the content was right for your audience?

If that sounds familiar, you’ll love this podcast on how to create an email newsletter that people actually look forward to receiving. In it, I cover:

  •  What to include in your email newsletter
  •  How often you should send out your email newsletter
  •  The ideal word count for your email newsletter 
  •  The best layout for your email newsletter 
  •  How to get people to subscribe to your email newsletter

And a whole host of other useful tips and tactics to create a successful email newsletter

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}


First off, the most important thing you need to know about your email newsletter is that it’s not about you. It’s about your ideal customers/clients. So – unless you have a Kardashian style audience of people who are fascinated by your daily life – your email newsletter shouldn’t be ‘news’ about you and your business. It should focus on your ideal customers/clients problems. 

What is an email newsletter?

While this may sound obvious, a lot of people get this wrong. A newsletter is any regular email you send out to your current/prospective clients. It doesn’t have to contain pictures or a fancy layout (although it may). It can just be plain text. The key thing is it must add value and help you nurture the relationship.

What makes a great email newsletter?

Your newsletter is, effectively, a lead magnet i.e. a piece of content you create to attract your ideal customers/clients (or nurture your relationship with existing ones). 

A great lead magnet solves a specific type of problem for a specific type of customer/client, offers a transformation, gives a quick win and (crucially) leads your subscribers towards a paid product/service.

Learn how to create an effective lead magnet for your business. 

For example, the Instagram expert Sara Tasker has a monthly newsletter where she shares new and interesting Instagram hashtags that will be useful for her audience. I look forward to receiving it because I know I’m going to get some fab new hashtags to try. 

It solves a problem for me because researching hashtags take time – and is not the most enjoyable job (which is why I look forward to receiving it). So Sara is saving me time on something I don’t like doing. She has an online course specifically for Instagram growth, so her email newsletter is perfectly aligned with one of her paid offers. 

Entrepreneur Marie Forleo sends out a weekly email about her latest Q & A Tuesday YouTube video – which contains valuable tips on business and marketing. These free videos add value and build trust, so when she launches her online marketing programme B-School, people are queuing up ready to buy. 

Remember an email newsletter isn’t just about attracting new customers/clients. It can be about nurturing your relationship with existing ones. 

I send an email every Friday morning to update my audience about my latest podcast episode. And anyone who buys my Media Diary – an A4 desk that includes key dates and awareness days you can use to plan out your content for the coming year – also gets a monthly email newsletter. This includes additional awareness dates and news of new films, books and TV shows (things we wouldn’t necessarily have been aware of when creating the diary) to spark content ideas. Because this email newsletter is adding value, subscribers often email back to thank us for sending it.

You Are the Media founder Mark Masters, sends a weekly email (every Thursday at 6am GMT/BST) with news, ideas and inspiration around content marketing and audience growth. Amongst other things, this email helps him nurture his relationship with existing and prospective attendees of his annual You Are The Media live event. I spoke at the event in Bournemouth in June and it was clear this weekly email was instrumental in filling the room at that live event. 

Pro tip: Remember that solving a problem for your subscribers doesn’t necessarily have to be offering tips/advice. Solving a problem for your audience could be making them laugh or giving them something beautiful to read during their coffee break (the very reason I subscribe to Alexandra Franzen’s newsletter). Whatever adds value for your audience. 

How to find out what you should include in your email newsletter?

If you already have an email list, ask them what they’d like to hear about. Don’t ask them an open question e.g. ‘What would you like me to include in my email newsletter?’ If you do this, you’re asking them to think really hard – which means it’s far less likely they’ll reply. 

Instead, give them three or four ideas you have for your email newsletter content and ask them to choose the one that feels like the best fit for them. This way, they have to do less thinking, which means they’re far more likely to reply. Once you’ve got them in a conversation, you can always ask further questions to find out if they have any ideas of their own (some will volunteer anyway).

If you don’t have an email list, follow exactly the same process with five to ten of your ideal clients/customers. And/or ask your social media followers.

Do remember that the only way you will truly know what your audience want to hear about is by putting content out there and seeing how they respond. This can be scary, but it’s the only way to truly find out what kind of content your subscribers really need. 

How long does your email newsletter need to be?

The rather unsatisfactory answer is…as long as it needs to be. 

I subscribe to some newsletters that are just a few lines long but solve my problems. Others are more in-depth. Make it as a long or short as it needs to be for your audience. 

Does an email newsletter have to include pictures/or have a fancy layout?

If you’ve got the resources to do it and you think it would work for your audience, go ahead and do it. But plain text is absolutely fine. In fact, there is a lot of research to show plain text emails actually perform better than those with images. 

And remember an email newsletter doesn’t have to be completely text-based. You can share video, audio, infographics, for example. 

It all comes back to what your audience needs from you. 

How often should you send out your email newsletter?

The rather unsatisfactory answer is: as often as you feel that you need to and probably more often than you think. 

The key thing is that you’re adding value and you’re tracking your results and tweaking and adjusting as necessary. 

For example, Kennedy teaches entertainers to get booked out with clients. He sends a daily email to his followers and makes a paid offer for his membership/events in pretty much every email. It’s delivering consistently good results for him. 

Your email newsletter is only too frequent if it’s not delivering results for you. 

Don’t panic if you get a few unsubscribes from your newsletter (or even one or two people who email to say your emails are too frequent for them. What is too frequent for one person is often fine for another). You only need to worry if it’s happening regularly. 

Bonus tip: Always try to provide an opportunity for people to ‘talk back’ to you if possible e.g. ‘hit reply and let me know what you think about x or y.’ The more conversation you can generate, the more effective your newsletters will be. 

How do you get people to subscribe to your email newsletter?

The key thing to remember is that no one wants to subscribe to a newsletter. Another piece of junk in their inbox that they probably won’t open. So don’t ask people to subscribe to your newsletter. Instead, sell the value e.g. ‘Sign up for my monthly hashtag newsletter and save yourself tons of time on hashtag research.’  or ‘Register for our monthly Media Diary newsletter to get additional awareness days and key dates you can use to help with your content planning.’ 

Here’s 39 surprisingly easy ways to get people to join your email list. 

What kind of email newsletter can you create if you have a product-based business?

Many product-based business owners think the only email newsletter they can send is one with discounts/offers.

If the only thing you’re doing is offering discounts, you’ll have no trouble getting people to sign up to your email newsletter. But you may struggle to get people to build the kind of loyalty that results in repeat sales. 

A more savvy approach can be to think about how people might be using your product. A good example of this is my Media Diary newsletter.  Sending a monthly newsletter with additional awareness days and ideas not only adds value, it also reminds people that we exist – so other relevant products go on sale, I’m already top of mind.

So don’t just send information about your products, send information about how people can use your products (or products like yours). 

For example, if you sell garden offices, send tips on how to style your garden office, how to keep it warm in winter or cool in summer. This is a practical content for past clients and aspirational content for prospective clients. If people see you as a source of useful information – rather than someone who is trying to sell them stuff all the time –  they’re far more likely to want to buy from you.

If sell homeware and gifts like my client Penelope Hope founder Nadia Newton, you can create seasonal content that helps your subscribers – and helps you make sales. 

The great thing about a newsletter is that you can make it seasonal. For example, Nadia recently launched a range of beach bags. Creating a summer newsletter than includes a round-up of the most stylish beach accessories of the summer (that includes her beach bags) would be a great way for Nadia to add value and sell more of her beach bags. 

She could also do similar round-ups for Mothers’ Day gifts, Teachers’ leaving presents and, of course, Christmas gifts. 

Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to include competitors’ products in your round-ups. While it might sound counter-intuitive, if you position yourself as a helpful person/brand, you’ll build loyalty and trust – making people far more likely to buy from you. 

If you have a product-based business position yourself as an expert in the type of products you sell – rather than someone who sells stuff. That is what will keep your customers coming back to you – time and time again. 

Should you sell in your email newsletter?

Absolutely yes. If it’s appropriate, do make offers in your newsletter. But make adding value your number one priority. 


Podcast shownotes

  • Why your email newsletter is not about you (2:20)
  • What is an email newsletter (and why it can just be a simple email) (3:48)
  • What makes a great email newsletter (and why it’s like a lead magnet) (5:03)
  • Four things your email newsletter needs to do (6:58)
  • Examples of some great email newsletters (7:52)
  • Creating an email newsletter that solves your ideal customer or clients problem (14:28)
  • How to present your email newsletter and how long should it be? (15:23)
  • How often should you send out your email newsletter (19:07)
  • Who should you send your email newsletter to (and GDPR considerations) (23:10)
  • How to get people to subscribe to your email newsletter (without asking them to subscribe) (25:10)
  • Tips for creating a product based email newsletter (27:59)
  • How to add value and sell in your email newsletter (34:12)
  • What a great email newsletter should look like (35:45)


Examples of great newsletters mentioned:

Park Run UK
Sara Tasker
Alexandra Franzen
Baby Centre UK
Marie Forleo
You are the media
Penelope Hope

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