How to launch a newsletter (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this two-part series we started to answer this question:

“We’re starting up a monthly newsletter. How should we go about this?”

And I then answered with another question:

“What assets do you already have in place that could give you a head start?”

Now, Waste Consultants already has a big leg up in few areas (of which I’m sure there are more that aren’t outwardly visible):

  • They’ve likely done years of groundwork to accumulate a CRM full of contacts in their target market.
  • They own the top spot for a few highly targeted keywords (like “waste consulting”).
  • Their founder, Tyler Brunson, has a well-optimized LinkedIn profile, regularly engages with other industry-specific content, and has about 1,800 followers.
  • They’ve already kicked off some regular content publication on their blog to supplement the other market-specific resources they’ve developed (a savings calculator, a video library, etc.).

Based on my cursory look, all systems are a “GO” for this thing to kick off successfully.

launch a newsletter part2 serp

Now all of these assets can be leveraged in two ways:

First, building a “newsletter launch” list of contacts who have given their permission to be added to their monthly email newsletter.

Second, accumulating inbound newsletter subscribers through strategic placement of an email opt-in form on their website, and regular promotion of their content across the various outside platforms in which they can reach their audience (e.g. other publications, LinkedIn, cold email outreach, etc.).

We’ll cover the first one here.

Step 0: A quick note about permission

I too, like everyone else who has spent enough time on LinkedIn, have received those self-promotional diatribes fronting as newsletter emails that seem to appear out of nowhere.

You think to yourself, “Wait, when did I subscribe to this?”

Quickly followed by, “Oh comonnnnnn mannnn…” when you realize they just whipped up an email scraper and slapped your contact info into their email list.

So.

Wholly apart from the legal minutiae contained in CAN-SPAM and GDPR

If you’re sending bulk email (i.e. sending through an email service provider like Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Convertkit, or the long, long trail of other sometimes confusing but pretty much the same software options).

Ask for permission.

Examples:

  • Saying, “Yes, please add me to your email list.”
  • Entering your information into a specified email opt-in form.
  • Sending a carrier pigeon to the organization in question with a hand-written note giving your express consent to receive ongoing communication through email.

All jokes aside, some due diligence here will (a) make extra sure you never get yourself into hot water, and (b) ensure that you have the best possible chance of launching your newsletter to a list of folks who are receptive, likely to open, and willing to participate in the endeavor in a way that helps guide your efforts through feedback and conversation.

Okay, next.

Step 1: Bucket your contacts

At a minimum, I would break your contacts into two groups.

Group 1: Current clients, former clients, referral partners, your close network.

Group 2: Everyone else who happens to be in your CRM.

And this distinction is important, because Group 1 forms the core of your ongoing business relationships, and thus requires a bit more time, attention and nuance (sorry Group 2… I like you and all, but a guy’s gotta prioritize).

What we want to avoid is, in the next step I’m about to outline, having one of your clients… who let’s say just got off the phone with you… open up their inbox to see something that looks like this (exaggerated for effect):

launch newsletter part2 bad email

To which they may think to themselves:

Uhh… dude?

We just spoke for an hour and had a conversation about my daughter’s ballet recital.

Why the robot speak?

Now, this is not to say that even the more generalized outreach I’m going to recommend has to sound this robotic. But just that your clients and close network deserve a bit of personalization and care… which will go a long way in terms of engaging them in the process.

Step 2: Personalized outreach to clients and your close network

Okay, so you have your Group 1 list prepared…

Now, what do we send them?

Well, I actually wouldn’t just view this as an opportunity to build your email list with a group of folks you know are at least mildly interested in what you’re doing, but also as a chance to further your relationship and increase the level of trust you’ve already developed with them.

Again, this means better and more meaningful dialogue with your market.

Which in turn means better metrics, feedback, and overall success of your email program.

Hence, personalization.

Here’s what that might look like:

launch newsletter part 2 email1

It’s personal, yet structured.

It gets to the point quickly and puts the project into context (assuming you make the bullet points relevant and interesting).

And it incorporates their input and feedback into the process.

Now, the nice thing about this format as well is that it can then be turned into a template you can re-use as follows:

launch newsletter part 2 email 2

So now, for each of your Group 1 contacts, you can go through and add the appropriate level of customization into each email without having to reinvent the wheel each team you fire up a new email draft within your inbox.

And even better, you can implement the “personalized snippet” method I outlined here and here, so that you can use your cold email outreach software (e.g. Prospect.io, Mixmax, Yesware, etc.) to automate this process a bit.

In doing so you also get the added benefit of built-in follow-ups, which will significantly increase the likelihood of getting a reply. (Backlinko found a 65%+ increase. In my work, I typically see 2-3x the results when 2-3 follow up emails are included).

Bottom line: Make it personal. Make the ask. And make your way through your Group 1 list.

Step 3: Automated outbound email outreach to your other contacts

Next up, the rest of your contacts…

Where “the rest” may mean:

  • Leads that came in that didn’t convert
  • People that you’ve prospected and reached out to before
  • Some sort of list you got from that conference you spoke at 3 years ago

Wherever these people came from, you haven’t really had any meaningful, sustained interaction with them before.

Which also means, that you should export the list and give it a once-over to make sure the contacts are relevant and valid.

Oh, and on the valid part, I would either (a) run it back through your email outreach software’s verification system, or (b) use a service like NeverBounce to verify that those emails are valid.

That’ll make sure you don’t get a whole bunch of bounces (and therefore potentially put yourself on a shaky deliverability footing) when you email these people you may not have emailed in years (or ever).

From there, once your list is clean and tidy, I’d modify that same initial email to look something like this:

launch newsletter part 2 email 3

And in fact, if you’re sending at high volume, you may want to go ahead and create an opt-in page to send folks to in your CTA:

launch newsletter part 2 email 4

Again, send this using software (outreach software that is, not an ESP… confusing, I know) and include a follow-up sequence if you want to get the most bang for your buck.

And then let ‘er rip!

Once you do, you’ll hopefully end up with a nicely seeded list of subscribers anxiously anticipating that first newsletter that’s going to totally blow their mind.

Now you just have to write it 🙂

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