Newsletter Marketing Mastery: How to Grow a Small Business Newsletter (From Scratch)

Every solopreneur, content creator, and online entrepreneur knows the challenge: you’ve got a valuable product or service, but how do you get the word out and keep your audience engaged? 

The answer lies in a tool that’s been around for decades but remains incredibly potent: the newsletter. 

According to OptinMonster, while social media platforms have seen a surge in users, nearly all of the 4.3 billion internet users have active email accounts. More compellingly, 60% of consumers have made a purchase directly from a marketing email they received. 

In contrast, only 12.5% consider social media a significant driver for their purchases. These statistics underscore a crucial point: if you’re not leveraging the power of newsletters, you’re missing out on a proven method to connect with your audience and drive sales. 

So, how do you grow a newsletter effectively? 

To grow a small business newsletter, you must deliver consistent, high-quality content tailored to your audience’s interests. Engage with subscribers through personalized emails, utilize effective newsletter marketing strategies, and leverage tools to optimize your campaigns. Regularly analyze performance metrics to refine your approach and boost subscription rates.

Let’s dive into the mastery of newsletter marketing and discover how to grow your small business newsletter from scratch.

Key Takeaways

  • Newsletters offer a personal touch, allowing businesses to communicate directly with customers. More than just a marketing tool, they present an opportunity for monetization, fostering customer loyalty, and establishing a brand presence in the crowded online space.
  • Leading experts emphasize the importance of authenticity in newsletter content. It’s not just about sending out emails; it’s about delivering value, building trust, and maintaining consistency. The potential of newsletters as a marketing tool is vast, but it requires a strategic approach.

The Power of Newsletters for Small Businesses

Did you know that for every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return on investment (ROI) is a whopping $42? 

This fascinating statistic comes from a report by Litmus, highlighting the undeniable potency of newsletters in the business realm.

Often seen as a traditional form of communication, newsletters have evolved into dynamic tools that allow businesses to foster deeper connections with their audience. They’re not just about sending out monthly updates or promotions. Today’s newsletters are about delivering value, sharing insights, and building a community. 

For small businesses, especially, newsletters can be a game-changer. Here’s why:

  • A business newsletter makes your brand/business top-of-mind. You remain at the forefront of your subscribers’ minds by consistently providing value. This can lead to direct inquiries and sales without needing potential customers to search for you.
  • It serves as a direct line to your audience. Unlike social media platforms where algorithms dictate content visibility, newsletters land directly in your subscriber’s inbox. This direct line ensures that your content gets seen by those who genuinely want to hear from you.
  • A well-crafted newsletter builds trust and credibility. Regularly sharing valuable content through newsletters establishes your business as an authority in your niche. Over time, this trust translates into customer loyalty and increased sales.
  • Business newsletters are cost-effective marketing. Starting a newsletter doesn’t require a hefty budget. Many email marketing platforms offer free tiers, making them accessible to businesses of all sizes. And as the ROI statistic suggests, the returns can be substantial.
  • Your newsletter is personalized engagement. Modern newsletter tools allow for segmentation and personalization. This means you can tailor your content to specific segments of your audience, making each email more relevant and engaging.
  • It functions as a useful feedback loop. Newsletters provide an opportunity for direct feedback. Whether it’s through surveys, polls, or simple reply-to emails, you get insights straight from your audience, helping you refine your offerings and understand their needs better.
  • A newsletter is great for promotions. While newsletters primarily provide value, they can also be used for product launches and promotions. Brian mentions that they have product launches a few times a year, which are some of their biggest growth months.
  • A business newsletter allows for free retargeting. Regularly sending newsletters acts as a reminder to subscribers about your brand or company.

For those pondering how to grow a newsletter, it’s essential to recognize its inherent power first. 

In the vast digital ecosystem, where businesses vie for attention, newsletters offer a personal, direct, and effective communication method. 

They’re not just a marketing tool; they’re a relationship-building tool. And for small businesses, that relationship is the bedrock of growth and success.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Growing a Newsletter from Scratch

Starting a newsletter can seem daunting, especially when building from the ground up. However, with the right strategy and tools, it’s a journey that can lead to significant rewards. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to grow a newsletter, ensuring you capture and engage your audience effectively.

1. Choose the Right Platform

Choosing the right platform is the foundation of your newsletter strategy. Consider factors like user-friendliness, integration capabilities, and scalability. 

Platforms like ConvertKit, Substack, and Beehive offer a range of features tailored for different business needs. Ensure the platform aligns with your growth objectives and offers analytics to track performance.

2. Create (or Curate) Awesome Content

Your newsletter’s content should resonate with your audience. Understand their needs, preferences, and pain points. Whether you’re sharing industry insights, company updates, or curated content, ensure it’s relevant and valuable. Tools like BuzzSumo can help identify trending topics in your niche.

3. Keep Building Your Email List.

A robust email list is the backbone of any successful newsletter. Use lead magnets, such as eBooks or webinars, to entice sign-ups. Collaborate with influencers or host giveaways to expand your reach. Remember, it’s about quality over quantity.

4. Keep Your Subscribers Engaged

Engaging content keeps subscribers coming back. Segment your list to deliver personalized content. Use interactive elements like polls or quizzes to boost engagement. Regular feedback loops can also help refine content strategy based on subscriber preferences.

5. Be Consistent in Your Delivery

Consistency builds trust. Decide on a publishing frequency—be it weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly—and stick to it. Regular newsletters not only keep your brand top-of-mind but also help in building anticipation among subscribers.

6. Think About Monetization Strategies Down The Road

While delivering value should be the primary goal, monetizing your newsletter can offer additional revenue streams. Consider affiliate marketing, sponsored content, or premium subscription models. However, always prioritize content quality and subscriber trust.

Keep in mind that growing a newsletter from scratch requires a blend of strategy, consistency, and engagement. By following this step-by-step guide, you’re not just learning how to grow a newsletter; you’re setting the stage for a powerful communication channel to drive business growth and foster genuine connections with your audience.

A Sample Day-To-Day Roadmap for Growing Your Business Newsletter

To simplify the process and ensure you’re on the right track, here’s a day-to-day roadmap to guide you through the first month of your newsletter journey.

Day 1 to 3: Brainstorming and Initial Setup

Kickstart your newsletter journey with brainstorming sessions. Identify your target audience, their interests, and how your newsletter can address their needs. 

Once you have a clear vision, choose a suitable platform for your newsletter. Set up the basic design, layout, and sign-up forms, ensuring they align with your brand aesthetics.

During these first few days, here’s what you need to do:

  • Brainstorm topics by choosing a subject you’re passionate about.  
  • Validate your newsletter ideas. Discuss your thoughts with friends, partners, or colleagues to gauge interest.
  • Sign up for a newsletter platform. BeeHiiv is a strong recommendation for small business owners. You can also consider platforms like Substack, Convertkit, or Ghost.
  • Identify a gap by recognizing a need (or a pain point) in the market. Alex Lieberman noticed that students lacked engaging resources to read about business news.
  • Choose a name for your newsletter. Pick something short and sweet. Lieberman initially named his newsletter Market Corner before rebranding to Morning Brew.
  • Determine your motivation. Understand why you’re starting the newsletter. It might be a mix of personal growth and helping others. Again, tie this into your interests and passion.

Day 4 to 7: Content Creation

By the end of your first week, you should already dive into content creation. Plan out topics for the first few editions of your newsletter. 

Remember, the content should resonate with your audience’s interests. Use tools like Grammarly to ensure error-free content and Canva for visually appealing graphics.

  • Prioritize quality by focusing on creating the best content possible. This will be the backbone of your newsletter.
  • Involve your audience right from the start. Engage your readers in the content creation process. This can make the newsletter feel like a shared experience.
  • Find creative ways to hire or collaborate. Consider bringing in others to help with content. Morning Brew recruited unpaid university students and even hired a “funny person” to ensure the content was entertaining.

Day 8 to 15: Initial Growth Strategies

You should always be thinking about growing your newsletter. So, beyond your family, friends, and immediate contacts, start promoting your newsletter. 

Use social media platforms, collaborate with influencers, and consider paid advertising for a wider reach. Encourage sign-ups by offering lead magnets or exclusive content to early subscribers.

  • Compile a contact list and go through your email contacts, and list down potential subscribers.
  • Send an intro email. Write a simple, straightforward email introducing your newsletter and inviting them to subscribe. 
  • Leverage LinkedIn via Direct Messaging. DM or email LinkedIn contacts who might be interested in your newsletter. This could include friends, old colleagues, founders, CEOs, marketers, etc. This approach could add another 20 or 50 more subscribers for you.
  • Pitch your newsletter when you can. Present your newsletter among organizations or club meetings. Give a brief pitch and pass around a sign-up sheet to help gather email subscribers.
  • Manually enter your email addresses in the beginning. This is alright– in fact, Alex and his co-founders at Morning Brew manually entered email addresses from the sign-up sheets.
  • Consider leveraging local ambassadors. Once you’ve saturated your immediate environment, consider expanding to other locations or institutions using local ambassadors. Both Morning Brew and companies like Uber used this strategy.

Day 16 to 23: Building Depth and Authenticity

Focus on deepening your connection with subscribers. Share behind-the-scenes glimpses, personal anecdotes, or success stories. Authenticity fosters trust, so be genuine in your communication. 

Consider hosting Q&A sessions or webinars to engage with your audience.

  • Go for depth over width. While having a large subscriber base is beneficial, ensuring your subscribers are engaged is more important. Depth in your audience can be more valuable than sheer numbers.
  • It’s okay to start with a small subscriber base. You might begin with just a few subscribers, but your dedication to providing value could lead to significant growth.
  • Embrace authenticity. Online entrepreneur McCormick’s success with his newsletter Not Boring can be attributed to his authentic voice and personal touch. He writes every newsletter himself, ensuring consistency and authenticity.
  • Build your community by constantly engaging with your audience. Encourage feedback, respond to comments, and engage in discussions with your subscribers. This helps in building a loyal community.
  • Leverage good word-of-mouth. Rely on your community to spread the word about your newsletter. McCormick attributes much of his growth to word-of-mouth referrals from his readers.

Day 22 to 30: Expansion and Scaling

By now, you should have a decent subscriber base. Analyze the performance metrics, identify what’s working, and refine your strategies. 

Explore partnerships, guest post opportunities, or affiliate marketing to further expand your reach and scale your newsletter. Here are some action items for you at this stage:

  • Collaborate with bloggers, podcasters, and newsletter owners. Go ahead and start reaching out for guest posts. Contact individuals who have marketing blogs, business blogs, or newsletters. Offer to write content for them in exchange for a link to your newsletter at the bottom of the post.
  • Replicate your successful strategies. Once you’ve identified what works, replicate it in other locations or demographics. Remember: Morning Brew expanded their classroom pitch strategy to over 200 additional schools.
  • Engage with ambassadors within your space. Collaborate with representatives or ambassadors from your network to spread the word about your newsletter.
  • Engage with online groups. Find relevant groups by searching for them on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn using keywords relevant to your newsletter topic. When you join these groups, make sure you answer any verification questions, and that the group allows promotional content.
  • Post teasers on social media by sharing the first 200-300 words of your newsletter article as a post in these groups, as well as on your own social media channels. Add a link at the end leading to your newsletter sign-up page. This strategy added another initial 300 subscribers for Patrick.
  • Implement a referral system. Use your newsletter platform to offer rewards to subscribers who refer others. This creates a viral loop, attracting more subscribers. Patrick mentions BeeHiiv has this feature built-in.
  • Consider offering deep dives for brands: in-depth analyses or reviews of products, services, or business models for a fee. Successful newsletter owners typically charge brands for these deep dives into their business models, which not only provides revenue but also allows him to learn more about various industries.
  • Use your platform to recommend services and tools to your audience in an authentic manner. This can be a win-win, as you provide value to your readers while potentially earning commissions or fees.

As you can see, growing a newsletter is a continuous process of learning, adapting, and evolving. This day-to-day roadmap provides a structured approach, ensuring you’re well-equipped to navigate the challenges and celebrate the milestones.

Remember, the key to a successful newsletter lies in consistent value delivery and genuine engagement with your audience.

Conclusion: A Final Word on Growing a Business Newsletter From Scratch

Embarking on the journey of growing a business newsletter is both an art and a science. With the insights and strategies shared in this guide, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to navigate the world of newsletter marketing.

The next steps involve putting these strategies into action. Start by setting clear goals, consistently delivering value, and always keeping your audience at the forefront of your efforts.

Remember, the true essence of a successful newsletter lies not just in the numbers but in the genuine connections you forge with your readers.

As you work on growing your newsletter, always prioritize authenticity and value. Every email you send is an opportunity to deepen that bond with your audience.

For more insights, strategies, and tips on digital marketing, be sure to explore our other articles on Big Country Marketing. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to refine your strategies, our resources are designed to empower you on your entrepreneurial journey.

Renzie Baluyut

Digital marketing, content development, and brand strategy consultant Renzie Baluyut has had over 25 years of experience in sales & marketing, events, and business development. A former FM radio executive, at various points of his career, Renzie was also in the outsourcing business, concert production and promotion, and web development. A wellness and work-from-home advocate, Renzie is currently based out in the Philippine countryside. When not studying the complexities of data science or Wordpress development, Renzie does his best to catch up on reading or spending time with his growing little boy.

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