Understanding what a business stands for is an important consideration for people when choosing a sustainable brand to buy from. In the busy world of social media, this message can easily be overlooked or lost. 

Email marketing has one of the highest conversion rates in marketing, but it isn’t always the go-to media for increasing sales. This could be because setting up and creating a newsletter takes time and the results aren’t always instantaneous. But, I believe that creating a channel that delivers sales and repeat sales over time is much better for brands than a big instant surge in sales that dies away once you stop advertising. 

So let’s see how you can increase your sustainable brand’s sales with an engaging newsletter.

How effective is a newsletter? 

Lots of research has been conducted to see how effective newsletters are, and the results are staggering. For instance, campaignmonitor reports for every $1 spent, email marketing can generate $44 in return. Email marketing is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter and when campaigns were segmented, some brands saw a 760% increase in revenue from their newsletter. 

With figures like these, it’s easy to understand why I think every sustainable brand should have a newsletter.  

Why newsletters drive engagement and sales

It’s good to be aware of the results you can expect to receive from your newsletter, but it’s also important to understand why newsletters drive engagement and sales. So that’s what we’re going to look at now. 

Firstly, with newsletters you’re not limited to a specific character count like you are with some social platforms. This gives you more space to tell your brand’s story, making it easier for subscribers to build a relationship with your brand. Secondly, email software make it easy to personalise and tailor your email content to different customer segments. For example, you could tempt new subscribers to buy from you by offering them a welcome discount. Where, someone who has already bought from you may be interested to hear what new products you’ve added. 

9 steps to creating a newsletter for your sustainable brand (with examples) 

Once you’re confident you’re committed to creating a newsletter for your sustainable brand and know what you want to get out of it (increase in sales, for instance), here’s what you need to do next: 

1. Pick the email software you’re going to use

There are several things to consider when choosing an email software. Firstly, will the software integrate with your ecommerce store or customer relationship management (CRM) platform? Take your time to understand if this is possible, as having to manually input names and email addresses into the email software is time-consuming and open to error. 

Secondly, does the software allow you to segment lists so you can tailor and personalise your newsletters to each group? If it doesn’t, I strongly suggest you cross it off your list of possible options. 

Thirdly, cost. What will it cost to use the software now and in the future as your subscriber list grows? Most email software providers offer a free service up to a certain level of subscribers. Once you hit this limit, they start to charge. So be aware of this. 

Some of the biggest names in email marketing for ecommerce stores are Klaviyo, Constant Contact, Mailchimp, Active Campaign and Infusionsoft. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. I suggest creating a comparison table using the above points to help you decide which software is the best for your sustainable brand.   

2. Add a subscribe box to your website

You’ve decided on the email software you’re going to use for your newsletter, now you have to get people to sign up. You can only send email marketing messages to people who have given their permission, and every message you send, there must be an option to unsubscribe. More information on sending email marketing messages can be found on the .gov website

I’m going to concentrate on getting people to sign up to your newsletter. And, the easiest way to do this is by having a subscribe box on your website. Your website theme may have an option to add this. Or, depending on the email software you’re using, it may have the option to create a newsletter subscribe landing page. 

If you want, you can go all out on the creativity of the subscribe box, or choose to keep it straightforward as Last Object has: 

Source: Last Object website

As you see, it’s very simple. All they’re asking for is an email address. It will take subscribers literally seconds to sign up, and they’re aware of what they’re signing up to receive. 

3. Select a template or design your own

How your newsletter looks is just as important as its content. A messy layout will put people off and possibly want to hit the unsubscribe button. 

There’s no excuse for a chaotic newsletter layout as most email software comes with pre-designed templates. You can choose to use the template as it is or switch the layout around a little to create a design that you’re happy with. If you do want the option to reconfigure a pre-designed template, look for a software that uses a drag-and-drop functionality. 

Another option is asking a graphic designer to create a template for you, which can be imported into the email software. This will be more expensive, and not all software supports this. 

4. Write your headline

The text used in the subject line of your newsletter matters hugely. The words you choose determines if your newsletter is classed as spam and whether the receiver will open and read your newsletter. 

A good headline is a balance of being informative and intriguing – enticing the reader to find out what they’ll get from opening your newsletter. People’s email inboxes are busy places, you’re competing with other companies for the subscriber’s attention, so you literally have seconds to persuade the reader that your newsletter is worth reading.

Tips for writing a newsletter headline: 

  • Long headlines don’t work as the text will get cut off, and the reader won’t know what your newsletter is about. The optimum length for a newsletter headline is eight words.  
  • Put the most important words at the beginning. 
  • Include the subscriber’s name in the headline. Personalised headlines can increase open rates by as much as 20%
  • Include details of a special offer in the headline. 
  • Ask a question. People are intrigued by questions. 
  • Avoid unnecessary words. 
  • Grammar rules don’t apply when writing a newsletter headline. Commas etc, only take up space. 
  • Use emojis to add personality and feeling to your headline. 

Example headline

Source: Who Gives A Crap Newsletter

This headline example by Who Gives A Crap is posing the question – which endangered tree are you? The headline is intriguing, and it compels you to read on. The headline also reflects what the newsletter content is about – a fun quiz to work out your tree type, and it relates to the brand – Who Gives A Crap sells sustainable toilet paper. 

5. Put the newsletter content together 

As you’ve decided to create a newsletter for your sustainable brand, you must feel you’ve got something to say – which is fantastic. Newsletters that are insightful and helpful perform much better than those that solely push a sales message. This doesn’t mean you can’t include details of products or offers; you can but make sure that it’s balanced with content that informs. 

Here are some newsletter content ideas: 

Helpful news 

  • Create a roundup of industry news
  • Share a link to a blog post
  • Share a link to your latest Youtube video 

Company news

  • Share news of an event you’re holding or attending
  • Share a link to an interview you’ve given
  • Share your sustainable brand story 

Product news 

  • Include details of new products you’re launching
  • Share a special offer you’re running or include a discount code
  • Include gift ideas for special days e.g. Earth Day, Easter, Mother’s Day

Now that you have some ideas for content, it’s time to think about the aesthetics of your newsletter. 

The key is to be consistent. What I mean is, if someone by chance comes across your newsletter, will they know it’s from you? It’s not difficult to replicate your brand in your newsletter – use the same brand colours, a similar font style, add product images or images similar to what you use on your website or social media. Most importantly, keep the same tone of voice

6. Include a strong call to action 

Calls to action, CTAs as it is also known, are a stand-alone piece of hyperlinked text that encourages the reader to take some form of action. This could be clicking on a link to find out more information, adding a product to their basket and applying a code to their purchase. 

Adding calls to action to your newsletter can be the difference between someone reading it  and someone reading the newsletter and then clicking through to your website.

Types of calls to action that can be used in newsletters include; Buy now, Save now, Save today, Don’t miss out, Shop our best sellers, I’m interested, Join now or Sign me up. 

The number of calls to action you include in your newsletter depends on the content, but avoid using them where it doesn’t make sense or where it’s not needed – it’ll only distract from your content. 

This example is from My Little Eco Shop. Here they’ve added a call to action with a discount code near the top of the newsletter. 

Source: My Little Eco Shop Newsletter

And, they’ve used calls to action for each of the products they’ve included in the newsletter. 

Source: My Little Eco Shop Newsletter

7. Test that your email works and looks good

Everything is in place, and your newsletter is nearly ready to go out to your subscribers. Before that, send a test email to yourself to see how it looks. Maybe put together a checklist of points that you can go through to make sure you’re happy with the newsletter. It could include things like: 

  • Is the text readable?
  • Do the colours clash?
  • Are the images high-quality and in focus? 
  • Do all the links work? 
  • Are there any spelling or grammar mistakes?
  • Is an unsubscribe option included? 

Make any changes and send another test copy to yourself to review again. 

8. Press send 

Now that the hard work is largely done, you’re almost ready to send your newsletter. Before you do press the ‘send’ button, take one last look over the newsletter to make sure you’re happy with it. Once you are, press that button! 

9. Analyse the results 

For all the time and effort you’ve put into creating your newsletter, you need to see results from it. What these results are depends on your goals for creating it. For example, if you want to increase sales, you could look at the amount of traffic that your newsletter is driving to your product page. Or, the value of sales that your newsletter is generating. 

For an overall picture of how your newsletter is performing, consider: 

Open rate: The number of people who open your newsletter against the number of people it was sent to. A low open rate could indicate your newsletter is going to spam. 

Click rate: This statistic shows the percentage of recipients who clicked on any hyerlinked content in your newsletter. This is an important metric to know as it shows what content your subscribers are interested in and interacting with. 

Bounce rate: This shows the percentage of emails that couldn’t be delivered. This can happen because the email address is incorrect, or because the recipients inbox is full. 

Unsubscribes: This is the number of people who opt out from receiving your newsletter. After each newsletter is sent, it’s common for some people to unsubscribe, but if large numbers of people are opting out, you need to address the reason why. 

Devices used: This shows which devices your recipients use to open and read your newsletter. This information isn’t as crucial as say the open rate or click rate, but you should bear this information in mind when building your newsletters. 

All this data should be accessible through your chosen email software, but check what is available as each software may track different metrics.  

I know that’s a lot to take in, so here’s an inforgraph to summarise it:

Click on the image to download a pdf. version of this inforgraph.

I hope you find my guide on how to create a newsletter for your sustainable brand helpful. For more top class content, check out my blog

About me: I’m Emma a copywriter and content manager based in Harrow, London. I have a passion for writing and for creating amazing content for brands that have a strong sustainable, social and ethical mindset.