How to create a newsletter for free

You have undoubtedly received thousands of emails from different companies in your inbox:

From your favorite beverage brand, which launched a campaign last month, or from the world’s best-known clothing brand (which you love).

What they sent you, in most cases, is a particular type of email known as a newsletter, but: Do you really know what a newsletter is?

What is a newsletter?

It is an informative digital message with content related to a specific topic or news relevant to a targeted audience.

We can use them to maintain constant contact with our customers, partners, and prospects to promote products, services, but also to support our company’s values, philosophy, and mission.

Would you like to learn how to create a newsletter correctly? Keep reading, because, in this article, we will explain, step by step, what you will have to do to edit this type of digital “leaflet.”

Email marketing, a successful strategy

In the 90s, the use of computers in companies grew dramatically. In 1995, we were sending more emails than postal letters.

However, as with any new technology, email was also used by individuals with less noble intentions, not to use stronger words. We are talking about spammers, hackers, or other less recommended selling strategies.

Fortunately, anti-spam filters, anti-virus, and international regulations have been created to lessen the impact of these strategies and protect users’ inbox by “sending” suspicious emails to another  folder or blocking unauthenticated domains directly.

In the 2000s, after the emergence of social media, many people predicted the end of the email, but the two tools managed to integrate and create synergies between them (or is it not necessary to include an email address when registering on most platforms?).

And what is currently happening? Well, we have data that will show you that email marketing is here to stay:

  1. Many professionals spend up to four hours a day reading and answering emails
  2. 53% of people are interested in emails from different brands (yes, as long as they are not intrusive)
  3. 81% of people will open emails if the subject line is relevant
  4. It’s easier to foster loyalty with emails than with social media
  5. 70% of users check their inbox from their mobile device
  6. Emails, together with e-commerce and retargeting, form the three best tools to build customer loyalty.

What shouldn’t we forget when creating a newsletter?

A newsletter, as we explained, is an informational message. In other words, we can use it to inform our contacts about what we are doing.

Therefore, you should use this space to highlight the necessary actions of your company, with short texts, but relevant to your target audience. Before creating a newsletter, you should think about the  content of the message; to do it correctly, you should focus on:

  1. Design: the logo, corporate colors, typography, the layout of the elements. That is all the visual aspects of your campaign. You should create a newsletter that reflects your brand’s visual identity. On the other hand, the design of your campaign can’t affect the main purpose of your message: To share information and convince your  subscribers to take action. In short: You should convey a surprising idea, but useful and simple for all subscribers.
  2. Language: although the design should be adapted to the corporate image of the brand, the language of the message should be a mix between the official voice of the brand and the expressions customarily used by the target audience of the campaign. Variables such as gender, age, profession, are very useful for writing relevant  content for each subscriber profile.
  3. Campaign: We should personalize the message as much as we can. In this sense, it is recommended to include a subject line that requires action, customize the recipient for each email, and schedule the message for the most appropriate day and time (if we decide weekly, for example, every Tuesday at eight in the afternoon).
  4. We should also be careful that our emails don’t land in the spam folder, and this can be done through two principles: 80% of messages must be educational (and therefore, the remaining 20% can be sent to sell). Also, it is not worth sending a newsletter late at night (these emails are rarely read).
  5. You should include two buttons or options in your newsletter: A unsubscribe link, and a contact button, with links to your social media profiles, contact phone, support email, or other relevant information.
  6. If it is the first time that we are sending a newsletter, we can run an A/B test: We could create two similar designs, changing the colors, bold text, italics, or different phrases. After a day or two, we can check the statistics for both messages and decide the best combination, which will be the one we will send to the rest of the contacts.
  7. Storytelling, copywriting, and a series of keywords can motivate subscribers to read our message and, most importantly, to ensure that they will remember our brand.

Knowing all that, we can now start creating our newsletter. Just a few more things: keep track of all the campaigns you have sent (some tools allow you to see which subscribers received the email, which ones opened the newsletter, which ones clicked on the links, and much more). You should also request user feedback to update your strategy.

Basic HTML concepts for your newsletter

If you are not an expert in HTML and CSS codes, you should choose one of the templates available on Mailrelay to create your newsletter, as you only need to personalize the content, editing texts, links, and images.

Even so, it is always better to learn about HTML code so that, in case you need to modify the default template, you know what you are dealing with. In this section, we will show you the basic tags that you will find in a newsletter:

  1. Head. Also known as a header, this tag will include indications about the type of content and language, title, and CSS styles used in the template. We can change the campaign title in this tag.
  2. Body. Below, we will find the body of the newsletter. First of all, we need to see how we will structure the content, and, on many occasions, we can choose to use tables, defining the height and width  of each one, the color of the background, etc. These tags are between <table> and </table> . Within the tables, we can find the rows (tr) and the columns (td) to format the content.
  3. Footer. Here we can include contact information, as well as an, unsubscribe link.

Other tags you should know:

  1. Images. The <img> tags will contain the images included in the newsletter. We should also always add an alternative text (alt) so that everyone can see information about the image just by reading the text. For example: <img src=”IMAGE LOCATION” alt=”Company logo (COMPANY NAME)”>. It is also important to leave the “border” value at 0, to remove the blue border from the image. We also recommend working with GIF or JPEG files.
  2. Links. Each button, hyperlinked text, and even images that will redirect subscribers to the website must be enclosed in the <a href>link tag. We should also add the command target=”blank” so that the link is displayed in another browser tab.
  3. Basic text formats. These are some basic recommendations for formatting text. If we want a phrase or word to be displayed in bold, we can use the <b> tag; for italics, we’ll use the <i> tag; to change the color, we can use the <Font color> tag; and to change the size, <Font size>. If we want to combine them, we just need to add all the tags we want to use.

For example: “This is a paragraph from the <b> <font color=”red”> newsletter </font> </b> sent by <i> <font size=”+1″> Mailrelay </font> </i> for  all our subscribers.

Tip for users who are not experts in design: Canva

Another aspect you should take into account when creating a newsletter is  the layout you will create, the images you will include, texts, CTAs, etc.

IMPORTANT: You should never upload large images, as some email clients may consider your message as spam. Also, you shouldn’t send only pictures on your campaigns.

Likewise, it is recommended to include descriptive texts, both in the title and in the other attribute fields, to offer alternatives if the images can’t be displayed correctly.

But how do I create attractive images if I don’t have specific design skills? In recent years, online services like Canva or Piktochart have managed to break the traditional barrier that separated professionals from amateur designers.

These services are easy to use, as they provide pre-configured templates.

► Learn how to use Canva step by step

The first thing you should do is to create an account: to do that, you will have to register with Canva.com using your Facebook or Google profile or simply your email address.

Crear cuenta en Canva

After that, go to the main page, where you can see recent designs, as well as different preconfigured templates.

pantalla inicial canva

As you can see, we can choose between creating an image with custom dimensions or using one of the pre-configured templates.

In our case, we will use a template to create an email header.

plantillas predefinidas canva

In the next step, we will really start creating the image: in the left column, we will find different templates to choose from (free or paid).

Once you’ve chosen it, just drag it onto the blank canvas to start editing it.

ejemplo canva

The software allows us to modify texts, colors, and even add new features, as we will see below:

ejemplo canva

Finally, as soon as we have our design ready, we can export it as an image or as a pdf:

ejemplo canva

A fantastic newsletter.

Food, financial, fashion, training: Whatever the industry you work with, you should always send a newsletter to all subscribers who want to receive it.

Do you want to see what some brands in the market are doing?

►  Training

ejemplo de newsletter de formación

This email is very visual, but the colors are fully aligned with the brand’s logo: also, the yellow-black contrast highlights the message, the call to action (in this case, check the dates) is clear and concise.

ejemplo de newsletter 2

This other example maintains a fantastic visual impact and, although it plays less with the harmony between the logo and the design, it looks like a  more informative and classic advertisement.

► Fashion

Ejemplo newsletter de moda

This example combines almost all the aspects that a good newsletter should include: Several calls to action, different interesting information about the brand, and a harmonious design. The only problem  is the message size; it can be challenging to read on a mobile device.

ejemplo newsletter de moda 2

This email, similar to the previous one, perfectly combines the idea of a fashion magazine (typography, spacing, order) and a modern email (visually striking, responsive design, and interesting content).

The problem: They didn’t include a call to action.

ejemplo newsletter de moda 3

Another brand that managed to take advantage of the newsletter very well is the sunglasses company Hawkers. In their 2nd newsletter, “Valentine’s Special, they are offering an interactive image, where we can access the discount, a timer for checking the duration of the offer, and some available models. Information, design, and an impactful message make this brand stand out in the minds of consumers  for a very long time.

► Catering and tourism

ejemplo newsletter restauracion

This example, although very simple, brings together some of the necessary items of every newsletter: design and visual elements consistent with the logo, a menu with interesting information, and an image that attracts the attention of readers. Also, they added contact information and links to social media profiles.

ejemplo de newsletter restauración

This email was created with a focus on visual aspects. It doesn’t provide much information, but it encourages readers to visit the landing page.

► Leisure companies

ejemplo de newsletter de ocio

Leisure companies usually use this tool to offer discounts, promotions, or new services. In this case, they offer different information, in addition to using simple but explanatory images, with links  to their profiles on social media.

ejemplo newsletter de ocio

How to create a newsletter with Mailrelay in 10 easy steps

Now that you’ve learned a lot about how to create a newsletter, you certainly want to start editing your campaigns. To help you, we’ll give you easy-to-follow recommendations so you can get started.

1) To register with Mailrelay, you only need a name and an email address.

2) You will receive an email to confirm and activate your account

3) You will receive the login information created by the email marketing software. 

4) On this screen, you must enter your username and password.

enviar newsletter mailrelay

5) The email marketing software will give you several tools to create campaigns and manage statistical reports.

enviar newsletter con Mailrelay

6) You can click on Campaigns -> Campaign -> Add to create your first newsletter.

enviar newsletter con Mailrelay

7) When you click on “Add,” you will access the campaign editor. Before you start editing your email, you must include a subject line and select a group or segment.

8) You can create a campaign from scratch or use one of the templates available on the system.

9) You could work with attachments, but this is not recommended as it could affect the delivery rate of your emails.

enviar newsletter Mailrelay

10) Click to send the newsletter. After editing and saving your campaign, you can send it to your subscribers. Before that, we recommend sending a test newsletter to make sure everything is working correctly.

enviar newsletter Mailrelay

In summary

In this article, we saw a lot of information: You learned how to create a newsletter, as well as tips to help you create more professional campaigns.

Essential HTML notions and examples of campaigns, tips for using Canva, and our email marketing software.

With this information, you are now ready to create a newsletter.

But if you have any questions, please leave a comment!

Translated by Micheli.

The Social Media Family

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