How to create a successful newsletter marketing strategy

Newsletters are one of the most effective tools for online marketing. Emails are sent to specific target groups and are ideal for reaching customers in a personalised way. Newsletter marketing can be used for both B2B and B2C sectors.

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What is newsletter marketing?

Newsletter marketing is one of the most traditional online marketing disciplines. In this kind of marketing, customers are contacted through newsletters and other types of advertising emails. There are numerous ways to implement newsletter marketing. A typical example that many online shops take is by informing customers after their first purchase of any offers and sales that are happening. Newsletter marketing also offers various types of businesses, ranging from retail and wholesale to gyms and box offices, the chance to keep in regular and direct contact with their customers.

Emails are a form of direct marketing which focuses on the expansion and maintenance of a company’s existing customer base. In principle there are two different strategies:

  • One-to-one communication: Emails are addressed to individuals.
  • One-to-many communication: Emails are sent to many recipients.

Newsletter marketing is very often part of dialogue marketing, which entails direct contact with the customer. Dialogue marketing normally takes place on the phone, usually via a call centre. Newsletter marketing reaches out to the customer directly and tries to present them with a personally-tailored offer.

The newsletter should elicit a response from the recipient. They should be able to respond via links or an order form, which isn’t possible with many other types of marketing such as poster advertising. The call to action should motivate the recipient to carry out a certain action, for example:

  • To take advantage of special offers and discounts.
  • To look at new products in the shop.
  • To read current articles on the website.
  • To download white papers and e-books.

There is a difference between newsletter marketing and email marketing. The difference is how often they are sent out. Newsletters are sent regularly meaning that the recipient is written to on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Emails, on the other hand, are sent irregularly and are usually linked to a certain occasion or event. The occasion could be seasonal (for example, holidays or campaign days) or offer-related (e.g., the launch of new products, the start of a special sale).

What are the challenges of newsletter marketing?

Promotional mail doesn’t really have the best reputation. The main reason is the increased amount of spam emails that have been sent out in the last few years. More and more people are buying and reading online so their email address ends up on the mailing lists of many shops, blogs and other sites. This results in an inbox that is overflowing and recipients that only take a few seconds to decide whether they want to open or delete an email. Businesses are aware that their newsletters or advertising mails need to pique a customer’s interest straight away. This often do this by ensuring that emails are geared towards a certain target group or tailored to individual people.

What are the advantages of newsletter marketing?

Newsletters can be especially beneficial to businesses due to their large coverage and the possibility of customising it for certain groups. They can also be directly addressed to the recipient and come across in a more personal way. This personalisation also means less waste when it comes to large mailing lists, since relevant content can be custom fitted to each respective recipient. The combination of relevant content and less waste leads to a high return on investment (ROI), which means that the proportion between expenditure and profit is very good.

Benefits of newsletter marking

An efficient and cost-effective form of direct marketing

Opportunity to directly and personally address the customer.

An instrument for long-term customer retention

A way of promoting sustainable customer relationships

Wide reach (depending on the address list)

A higher ROI

The success of a newsletter can be precisely measured. With appropriate tools, you can keep track of which mails have been opened and which links have been clicked on. Comprehensively analysing individual campaigns enables them to be adapted better to customers and leads.

Tips for starting newsletter marketing

Tip 1: Create a recipient list

In order to kick-start your newsletter, you first need a list of recipients. It should, if possible, consist of interested readers that could become customers. The easiest way is to write to your existing contacts.

But be careful; promotional mails can only be sent with the recipient’s expressed consent. There are different ways of getting this consent. It is important to use the double opt-in process, which involves the interested party filling in their details. They then receive an automatically generated email and must confirm that they actually want to receive the newsletter.

Tip 2: Gain new subscribers

It’s always better to be on the safe side by sending existing customers an email asking if they would like to receive future newsletters. An additional way of expanding your mailing list is to integrate the newsletter registration into the order process (e.g., ‘Yes, I would like to receive this newsletter’.) or to place it on the homepage.

There are different strategies to encourage new customers to subscribe to the newsletter. An incentive (for example, a discount code) is often offered to new customers when they complete the double opt-in process. A popular choice is a free white paper or e-book download that can also be linked in the newsletter.

Tip 3: Choose suitable content

As mentioned above, the recipient often has a barrage of promotional emails in their inbox, so making your own newsletter stick out from the rest is no easy task. Relevant content is behind the success of every email campaign. It is important to speak to the customer’s needs and not just to offer them value. You have better chances of besting your competition if you adjust the content and promotions to your target group. If you want your newsletter to actually be read, you should take into account that personalised newsletters can have more impact depending on who they are sent to.

If you want to:

  • increase your sales figures, you should incorporate product offers and discount campaigns.
  • strengthen your brand, you should establish a reputation as an expert in your field by providing relevant and trustworthy information (e.g., a white paper.)
  • increase your readership, you should have current news and relevant information about current affairs available.

Tip 4: Pay attention to the design and structure of the newsletter

Even the best content isn’t much use if it isn’t well presented. A standardised layout increases the recognition value and strengthens the corporate identity of a business. The company logo should be in the header with a link to the website. A clear and intuitive navigational structure is just as important as an appropriate and readable font. When building and designing the newsletter, you should always keep readers’ behaviour in mind. Here are some rules to follow:

Organise information according to importance

The ‘above the fold’ principle applies to newsletters as well as websites. Many know this principle from the classic newspaper adage. All important information should be above the fold (i.e., the page break) so that the reader sees it straight away. When it comes to the internet, the principle refers to the limited browser window. All the important content, key statements and offers in a newsletter should be in this visible area. Most importantly, the call to action, which encourages the reader to click on more, should be visible without the need to scroll down.

Call to action

The CTA (call to action) is especially valuable when it comes to designing a newsletter and can be thought of as the centerpiece of the newsletter. The CTA has to speak to the customer so they feel compelled to click on it. The design should look different, with the button or writing often being different from the rest of the content. The text should also be short and to the point. Since you only have a few words or a sentence, you need to cut to the chase and give the customer a good reason to click.

Use visual stimuli

The design (the choice of colours and contrasts) as well as content, structure and positioning can also make a difference as to whether the CTA is successful. Click elements, CTAs and special offers can be made to stand out by using different colours. You can emphasise different areas to direct the reader’s attention to them, but it is best to concentrate on just one or two highlights. If you use images and graphics, don’t forget to include the alt texts. These are shown as alternatives in case the graphics cannot be shown correctly. If you are advertising a big discount sale in an image, you should also have this written in the alt text. You can learn how to create custom newsletter templates in our Digital Guide.

Tip 5: Choose the right newsletter tool

To run a successful newsletter marketing strategy, choosing the right tool is crucial. There are a number of different providers, each covering a different range of functions. We provide tips and suggestions for providers in our Digital Guide article that compares email marketing software. If you work with WordPress, you can find more information in our article that compares WordPress newsletter plugins.


With the email marketing tool from IONOS, you can conveniently design your newsletters in the drag-and-drop editor and send them in an automated and GDPR-compliant way.

Tip 6: Check the most important information before sending

Before sending the newsletter, you should double-check that important elements in the newsletter are correct:

Dispatch time

The date and time of dispatch should reflect the respective target group. B2B customers are best reached between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Private users should be written to in the evening or on the weekend. Find out how to find the best time to send newsletters in our Digital Guide.

Correct sender and subject

The subject and sender are the first things that the recipient sees. If these look dubious, your mail will quickly find itself in the trash bin. The sender’s address should therefore be descriptive and clear. You can do this by including the company’s name in the sender’s address. The subject line should also be clear. Catchy wording will encourage the recipient to open the mail whereas empty phrases and lots of punctuation will put them off. With only 40-50 characters, you have to be clear about the promotions and links. In another article, we go over how to formulate the perfect subject line for a newsletter.

Appropriate target group

Most programs enable different mailing lists to be created so you can choose which target groups you want to address. The target group has to be defined before the newsletter is created. Check that the right recipient group has been selected before you send.

Important components of every newsletter

The double opt-in process is very important when it comes to newsletter registration. Just as important is providing readers with an unsubscribe option. You are also required to add a disclaimer. These are usually placed in the footer section.

Tip 7: Send a test newsletter

Before the newsletter is sent out, you should check its presentation and functionality as well as whether the links work. The presentation can differ from email client to email client. These should be factored in, as should the mobile display because the majority of emails and newsletters are opened on mobile devices. This change in user behaviour should be taken into consideration in your newsletter marketing strategy. Responsive designs react to different screen sizes and show the user a version of the newsletter that has been optimised for their device. The test mail should also determine whether the display is shown correctly on different devices.

Tip 8: Measure and optimise success

Different software solutions for newsletter marketing make it possible to precisely measure the success of your efforts so that you can continuously optimise newsletter campaigns. All-important figures related to the dispatch of your newsletter are provided through integrated tracking:

  • Delivery rate
  • Opening rate
  • Click rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Conversion rate

Thanks to these figures, every business can check whether the newsletter design and content were prepared according to the target group. Little by little, you can improve and optimise your newsletter so that you can carve out the ideal marketing strategy for different recipient groups. A favoured method of optimising subject lines or content is AB testing. This is where two versions of the same newsletter are sent out and the reactions to both mails are then compared. You can find more details about this in our article ‘Newsletter evaluation via email tracking’.

Why newsletter marketing should be in your marketing strategy

As a classic marketing tool, newsletter marketing should be a permanent element of every solid marketing strategy. Well-thought-out newsletter marketing, supported by the right tools, leads to individual customer contact and long-term success. Through personalisation, this type of online marketing can prove to be a sustainable and effective endeavour. Personalisation is more than just personal addresses and segmentation though. Dialogue marketing works well when each dialogue is customised and contains the exact information that each customer is looking for. Professional software solutions can further facilitate your newsletter marketing efforts.

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