10 Essential Tips for Creating a Newsletter People Will Read

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When it comes to marketing, the good old monthly newsletter isn’t exactly the most exciting tool in the modern toolbox. But there’s a reason why they are still being used by just about every successful business — they work.

Your newsletter is a great way to continue building a strong relationship with your current customers and strategically retarget potential customers. 

Social media is an excellent tool for business owners as you know, but if you think it’s the be-all and end-all marketing tool, remember you are always subject to algorithm changes. Your page or channel can be shadow banned, blocked or deleted if you don’t meet ever-changing guidelines. The advantages of a newsletter are you always have control over the content and the contact list. 

In this article, I’m going to share with you everything you need to know to create a successful monthly newsletter campaign, so let’s get started.

1. Choose an email marketing service. 

There are lots of options, including Mailchimp, Constant Contact and GetResponse. Do your homework comparing the costs and features. 

Most services offer different rates based on the number of subscribers you’ll be emailing. Of course, cost shouldn’t be the only factor. You’ll need to decide which features are important to your business, like ease of use, customer support, customization, automation and analytics.  

It’s not a requirement, but I highly recommend having a lead capture on your website. In the simplest of terms, you offer something to someone perusing your website and in return they give you their email address. The key is to offer them something of value. Examples are free travel WODs, a video of exercise progressions or a PDF delivered electronically of a sample menu of one week of healthy recipes. 

One lead capture that stood out to me was from a gym that asked for my email address in order to see their class schedule. I had mixed feelings about having to share my email for this information, but in the end, I submitted it because I wanted to see that schedule. 

A few seconds later I received it in my email along with a discount code. Weeks later, after I had long forgotten about the gym, I started to periodically receive promotional emails and reminders to join, slowly warming me up as a lead.

2. Be consistent.

Like most things in life, if you want to be successful you need to be consistent. Being consistent is more important than being perfect. So, just get started. Set a reminder on your calendar and make sure your newsletter is sent out each month at the same time. Plan ahead for it and make it a habit.

3. Be creative with your email subject lines.

If you want your customers and potential customers to open your newsletter, then don’t use boring email subject lines. You put a lot of hard work and thought into your newsletter, but it’s worthless if nobody ever opens it. 

Even the word “newsletter” sounds kind of dull, so I don’t recommend using it here. You only get one line to grab your audience’s attention, so be creative and maybe a bit mysterious with your subject line. A few examples might be, “If you love working out, you need to hear this,” “Confidential info about CrossFit X,” and “Are you making this crucial mistake at the gym?”

4. Keep your list organized.

It’s important to keep your contact list up to date. Have a simple system for adding members who join and removing members who unsubscribe. Also, have an easy-to-find button or link for subscribers to forward the email to their friends.

5. Format matters.

How you present and format your email is critical. Statistically, emails with poor formatting are deleted within three seconds, regardless of how good the content might be. Make it easy to digest. Break up any long paragraphs into two or three sentences. Separate the content into blocks. 

Keep in mind many of your readers will be viewing your email on their phones. Oversized images and multiple-column layouts may look great on a desktop, but they’re a mess on a mobile device. 

Now that you’ve considered formatting, it’s time to create the content. The main thing to always remember is to provide value to the subscriber. Next up are my top subjects to include. Remember the goal of your newsletter is to provide something useful to the person reading it. It’s not the time for overt sales pitches.

6. Events.

Some ideas to consider are competitions, parties or a bring-a-friend day; important announcements; schedule changes or new classes; and introducing new staff or giving a shout-out to noteworthy members who may have competed in a local box throwdown or triathlon.

7. Noteworthy blog post link.

Things like coaching tutorials, movement progressions, a whiteboard talk and healthy recipes. 

8Member of the Month.

Highlight one of your members who best fits your gym’s core values. Share why they were selected and include a short fun question and answer section with the winner.

9. You can’t be shy about asking for referrals or reviews.

Mention your referral program or politely ask for an online review. Members won’t even know you have a referral program — an incentive or reward for recommending the gym to their friends — unless you tell them about it. If you’re asking for an online review, provide a link they can click to make it as simple as possible.

10. Let’s connect.

Finally, remind everyone to follow and connect with you on all of your social media platforms. Have all of the icons clearly displayed with clickable links. It’s worth saying: test your links to make sure they work properly.

A few more ideas for content are: a photo of the month which could be your most-liked Instagram picture, a quick poll, a link to a survey, or a new or featured product.

One last word on sales: There’s nothing wrong with including promotions and sales. Just remember, an offer needs to provide value to your current customers and warm up potential customers who are on your list but aren’t members yet. 

If you do offer a promotion, keep it short and light: “Did you know we’re having a 50% off sale this month on the beginner’s course? The friend you’ve been bugging to join can save half off during this month only!” Include a link for more info and just leave it at that.

Follow these 10 steps and you’ll be on your way to increasing customer engagement, warming up new leads and signing up more members.

Andy Parker and his wife Kristie opened CrossFit Stamford in 2006. They were also business consultants, hired to assist launching Solace in New York City. In 2018 they sold their Affiliate and moved to Tampa, Florida. Since then Andy has founded Next Level Affiliates, a website dedicated to helping small gym owners and Coaches improve all aspects of their business. He’s also created the Business WOD, an affordable online business course created specifically to teach owners how to open, grow and eventually sell their gyms. For more details and to connect with Andy, please visit nextlevelaffiliate.blog.