How to Grow a Newsletter? 7 Steps to Follow

how to grow a newsletter cover image with an old typewriter

Launching an email newsletter is easy. But building a vibrant community of engaged readers that drives traffic, builds brand authority, and generates revenue is a real challenge.

How do you cut through the noise, attract engaged readers, and nurture a thriving community? 

You’re about to find out.

This guide will explain exactly how to grow a newsletter from the ground up in seven steps and provide you with actionable strategies, tips, and best practices along the way. 

Step 1: Define Your Audience and Niche

Before you start thinking about how to grow a newsletter list, decide on a niche that ignites your passion while addressing the needs and interests of your ideal audience. 

Your audience is the group of people who will benefit the most from your content (and product). Take a moment to map out your dream subscriber base and think beyond demographics like age and location. 

Ask yourself:

  1. What are their interests and goals?
  2. What are their pain points and challenges?
  3. Where do they hang out online?

Your niche will be the specific area within your industry where you stand out. You should have a unique perspective, expertise, or approach in this area to set you apart from the crowd. So don’t just pick a trendy theme — find something you can consistently deliver valuable insights on.

Also, avoid being overly restrictive when niching down. Leave room for subcategories and adjacent topics to keep your content fresh and engaging.

Step 2: Create Compelling Content

People send and receive a whopping 361.6 billion emails daily. Talk about information overload. 

This means you must employ content creation strategies that make people who subscribe to your newsletter hit “open” with anticipation and take the action you want them to take.

So, consider:

  • Writing bottom-of-the-funnel content,
  • Coming up with attractive subject lines,
  • Experimenting with multiple content formats.

Include Effective, Bottom-of-the-Funnel Content

Bottom-of-the-funnel content is aimed at people who are close to making a purchase decision. It gives detailed information about your products/services, answers questions, and convinces them to buy. This means it has the highest chance of converting your readers and is worth investing time and money into.

When writing to your email subscribers, offer actionable tips, industry insights, or exclusive resources that demonstrate your expertise and solve their problems. 

For example, this newsletter from Maze offers an actionable article on building an accessible user research repository from scratch complemented by three relevant reads:

MAZE newsletter example
MAZE newsletter example. Source

Also, employ persuasive language to encourage readers to take the desired action, whether it’s signing up for your service, making a purchase, or sharing your content with others. Phrases like “exclusive offer,” “limited time,” or “don’t miss out” create a sense of urgency—use them frequently. 

For example, this marketing newsletter from Hilma uses the phrase “limited time” in bold:

Hilma newsletter example
Hilma newsletter example. Source

Get Creative With Subject Lines

The fate of your newsletter hinges on the subject line — 64% of recipients open or delete emails based on it.

Keep your subject line short and to the point, ideally under 50 characters, so it doesn’t get cut off in inboxes.

Use language that sparks curiosity, induces the fear of missing out (FOMO), or prompts action, such as “Last Chance” or “Unlock Exclusive Content”. 

For example, a newsletter from Zeus Jones had the subject line that said, “Break up with what your brand is today.” It’s short, punchy, and instantly makes the reader curious.

Also, use subscriber names or mention topics relevant to their interests in the subject line to grab attention and personalize your emails.

Experiment with different subject line strategies to see what resonates best with your audience. A/B testing will help you identify which subject lines lead to higher open rates.

Try Different Content Formats

A/B testing your newsletter content and format is a no-brainer for keeping it fresh and engaging for subscribers.

Experiment with the following formats:

Content FormatWhat To Share?
Text-based articlesIn-depth analysis, how-to guides, or industry news 
Visual contentEye-catching images, infographics, or videos to complement your written content and enhance engagement
Interactive elementsPolls, quizzes, or surveys to encourage reader participation and gather valuable feedback
Case studiesReal-world examples of how your product or service helped others
User-generated contentTestimonials or contributions from your audience that foster a sense of community and authenticity
Newsletter content formats to test

Step 3: Optimize Your Sign-up Process

The sign-up experience sets the tone for your relationship with potential subscribers. Ditch clunky forms and confusing steps and build a smooth, inviting sign-up process that quickly turns visitors into loyal readers. 

The best way to optimize your sign-up process is by personalizing it and using your lead magnet as the irresistible nudge visitors need to subscribe.

Offer an Attractive Lead Magnet

People love freebies and offering a valuable free incentive is a surefire way to boost sign-ups. 

But instead of offering generic discount codes, tailor your magnet to your audience’s interests and needs.

Here are some ideas:

  • Exclusive e-book or guide in a downloadable format, packed with actionable tips or insider knowledge.
  • A cheat sheet or checklist that helps readers solve a common problem. 
  • Template, workbook, or a handy framework to guide readers through a process you teach.
  • Sneak peek at your latest products or exclusive deals.

For example, look at how the following lead magnet entices readers by offering exclusive access to the same “psychological triggers” the expert uses. The reader knows they will get instant access to an actionable resource from someone credible and trustworthy: 

GetUplift lead magnet example. Source

To expand audience, download our free Lead Magnet Multiplier short course to learn how to write high-converting lead magnets and drive up to 756% more clicks to your products.

Personalize the Process for Those Who Subscribe to Your Email Newsletter

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when thinking about how to grow a newsletter.

Once someone signs up, don’t treat them like a nameless number on your list. Make them feel valued and welcome with a personalized touch. 

It’s a good idea to send an email form to learn about their interests within your niche. This will help you segment your list and send targeted content later. 

Also, let subscribers choose the type of content they want to receive and how often they want your newsletter (e.g., in-depth guides, weekly updates).

Step 4: Market Your Newsletter on Social Media

Social media is where you connect with your audience, build brand awareness, and attract new subscribers to your newsletter.

Add high-quality visuals, a clear bio, and a link to your newsletter sign-up page on your social profiles. Create posts that clearly explain what your newsletter offers and why it’s valuable. Include a call-to-action to subscribe.

Here’s a good example from Chris Bibey, who runs a freelance gig newsletter:

A screenshot of a LinkedIn post promoting a newsletter

You also want to share snippets of your newsletter content, intriguing headlines, or exclusive offers to pique curiosity and encourage clicks.

Finally, consider running ads based on specific content and starting an ambassador program.

Run Ads to Promote Specific Content, Not the Newsletter

Instead of directly promoting your newsletter, highlight a unique piece of content with targeted ads. This approach will pique your audience’s interest and attract them based on their specific needs, not by a generic newsletter pitch. 

You can take inspiration from the following post—which is not exactly an ad but can be run as one:

A screenshot of a LinkedIn post promoting the Get Hired Asia newsletter
A screenshot of a LinkedIn post promoting the Get Hired Asia newsletter

Direct people who interact with the ad to a landing page where they can access the promoted content and subscribe to your newsletter.

Here are some ad content ideas and the ideal platform for running them on:

PlatformAd Content IdeasTargeted Audience
FacebookEngaging article titles, visually appealing snippetsInterest groups based on hobbies, professions, or current events
TwitterThought-provoking questions, insightful quotesUsers following industry influencers or hashtags related to your niche
InstagramEye-catching visuals, short video teasersUsers interacting with accounts focused on relevant aesthetics or hashtags
Social media content ideas and the ideal platforms for them

Start an Ambassador Program

Introduce an ambassador program for your existing email subscribers to spread the word about your newsletter. 

Look for individuals who actively share your content and leave positive comments. Reach out to these enthusiastic subscribers and pitch them to promote your content in exchange for a treat.  

Some ways to reward your ambassadors include:

  • Exclusive discounts,
  • Early access to content,
  • Ambassador titles/badges they can display on their social media,
  • Referral incentives,
  • Public acknowledgment of their contributions and success stories.

Provide pre-made social media posts, templates, and images to make things easy for your ambassadors. 

Here’s how The Hustle pitches its ambassador program in its website footer:

Footer of the The Hustle’s website promoting their newsletter. Source

Step 5: Use Email Well

Email marketing for newsletters remains a vital tool for nurturing existing subscribers and increasing your reach. 

Build a strong email list through your website, social media platforms, events, and networking. 

Remember to ensure compliance with data protection regulations and obtain consent before adding subscribers to your list.

Some good ways to use email marketing for growing your newsletter include using welcome emails, staying consistent, and ensuring you’re sending emails only to valid email addresses.

Send Welcome Emails That Convert

Send a warm welcome email when someone subscribes to your email newsletter. 

Here’s an example:

A screenshot of a welcome email by the Swipe Files newsletter. Source

Even though it is automated, it greets the subscribers nicely and explains what they can expect from the newsletter: 

Use the welcome email to:

  • Describe yourself or your brand and explain what your newsletter is about,
  • Emphasize the value they’ll receive from your newsletter. Communicate what they can expect in terms of content, frequency, and any exclusive benefits,
  • Encourage them to engage with your content by asking questions, inviting feedback, or directing them to your social media channels,
  • Include a clear call to action (CTA), such as following you on social media, visiting your website, or exploring your archive of past newsletters.

Keep Email Subscribers Engaged With Consistent Emails

Send out regular emails to engage people who subscribed to your email newsletter.

Follow these steps to build a consistent content strategy:

  1. Establish a schedule: Determine how often you’ll send out your newsletter (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) and stick to it. Your consistency will build anticipation and establish trust with your audience. Remember over 60% of newsletter subscribers want an email every week and over 90% want one at least once a month. 
  2. Plan a content calendar: Create a content calendar to plan out your newsletter topics and schedule them in advance. Make sure you always have fresh, relevant content to share with your subscribers.
  3. Mix up content types: Keep your newsletters interesting by mixing up the types of content you include. Consider including articles, tips, resources, interviews, or user-generated content with visuals. According to a HubSpot survey, 44% of marketers get the highest engagement on emails using multimedia elements.
  4. Monitor engagement: Keep an eye on your email metrics (open rates, click-through rates, etc.) to gauge the effectiveness of your newsletters. Use this data to optimize your content and timing for better engagement.

Use Campaign Refinery for List Cleaning

Sending emails to invalid addresses will hurt your sender’s reputation. Email providers will mark you as spam, meaning your newsletter won’t get read no matter how good it is.

Campaign Refinery clients don’t have to worry about list cleaning because we take care of it for them.

Our system automatically weeds out bad addresses from your list, including those that are:

  • Undeliverable
  • Malformed
  • Role
  • Complainer
  • Bot
  • Spam trap
  • Seed account
  • Disposable

The result is a 37% increase in your average customer open rates.

Step 6: Grow Your Newsletter Through Strategic Partnerships

Building a thriving newsletter is not a solo mission. Research shows over 60% of consumers trust influencer recommendations much more than branded content. 

This means strategic partnerships with other creators and influencers can help you grow your newsletter among new audiences and boost your visibility.

Follow these steps to cross-promote your content: 

  1. Identify creators or publishers in your niche who share a similar audience but offer complementary content.
  2. Reach out to these creators to propose a cross-promotion partnership where you promote each other’s newsletters to your respective audiences.
  3. Collaborate on content or campaigns to reap mutual benefits and provide added value to your subscribers.

Here’s how Ali Abdaal—a well-known influencer—promoted the Morning Brew Newsletter in one of his weekly newsletter emails: 

Ali Abdaal’s newsletter promoting the Morning Brew newsletter

You can also find bloggers, podcasters, or YouTubers with audiences who share your target demographic and pay them to promote your newsletter.

Multiple tools help you find the right influencers, such as:

  • Upfluence, which offers a free Chrome plugin for influencer analysis.
  • HypeAuditor, which lets you search for influencers and analyze their target audiences on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. You also get a fraud detection tool.
  • Traackr, which is an influencer database with millions of influencer accounts you can reach out to.

Step 7: Analyze, Adapt, and Grow

Growing a newsletter isn’t a one-shot deal. It’s more like an experiment, where you tinker, analyze, and adapt based on the results.

Experiment With Content and Sending Frequency

Keep your content fresh and engaging by experimenting with different formats, frequencies, topics, and styles.

Every 6 in 10 people want to receive an email from their favorite brands at least once a week. Newsletters work best when sent no more than twice a week, but at least once a month.

Adjust your frequency to find the balance between staying top-of-mind with your subscribers and avoiding email fatigue.

Here are some additional factors you can experiment with: 

  • Content formats such as articles, interviews, infographics, or video snippets.
  • Subject line lengths, wording, and personalization tactics.
  • Call to action button placement, wording, and offer types.

Track Key Metrics

Use Campaign Refinery to monitor metrics and gain insight into which content resonates most with your audience, which subject lines are most effective, and when is the best time to send emails. 

Some key metrics to track include:

MetricWhat it MeansIndustry Average
Open RatePercentage of subscribers who open your emails 38.49%
Click-Through RatePercentage of subscribers who click on links within your emails2.91% 
Conversion RatePercentage of email subscribers who complete the desired action15.22%
Subscriber GrowthThe rate of new subscribers added to your newsletter list over a specific period2.5%
UnsubscribesNumber of subscribers who unsubscribe from your newsletter0.1%
Social SharesNumber of times your newsletter content is shared on social media platforms
Email marketing metrics to track for your newsletter

Amplify Content That Performs Well

If a specific article or format generates high engagement, share it again with a different angle or headline.

You can also repurpose your high-performing content into different formats to reach a wider audience and drive additional engagement. 

Also, consider combining email marketing with SEO by turning your newsletters into blog posts. Share snippets or teasers of popular articles on your social media channels to attract new subscribers.

How to Grow a Newsletter With Campaign Refinery

Growing a newsletter takes work. You begin researching the likes and dislikes of your target audience, followed by creating content that resonates with them. 

Once you’ve done that, it’s all about technicalities like optimizing your sign-up process and using email well. 

Email marketing is an entire world of its own and if you get caught up in all its intricacies, you might not be able to curate the best newsletter content. That’s where Campaign Refinery comes in.

Acing Email Marketing With Campaign Refinery

Content Refinery is an arsenal of tools to help you blast past email delivery roadblocks and skyrocket your subscriber engagement.

Here’s what you get:

  1. Automatic List Cleaning: We scrub your list clean of harmful emails, boost your sender reputation, and ensure maximum deliverability
  2. Engagement Gamification: Subscribers earn points for opening and clicking your emails, turning newsletter email marketing into a game. Higher engagement leads to even better deliverability
  3. Mandatory Domain Authentication: Play by the rules and protect your reputation with enforced domain authentication. Transparency builds trust and keeps you out of trouble
  4. Credit System: Campaign Refinery rewards sending to smaller, engaged segments. It saves you money while boosting engagement and deliverability, a win-win
  5. Expert Support: A dedicated team of email marketing professionals is always at your fingertips, ready to guide you to success

Content Refinery isn’t just another email marketing platform. It’s a premium, exclusive product, available only to select customers who focus on high-quality content and domain reputation. This means you’ll have to apply to join a community of serious email marketers who share your commitment to excellence.

Hit the Inbox Every Time with the Inbox Formula

We’re also big on spilling out email marketing secrets. So in addition to our Lead Magnet Multiplier short course, we also offer the Inbox Formula, a free guide that will teach you:

  • How we increased the open and click rates of our clients by 6x and how you can do the same.
  • The basics of DKIM, DMARC and SPF, so you can ace email marketing without getting lost in the tech.
  • How the world’s best email marketers scale their email volume and how you can copy them.

If all of that sounds interesting, go check out the Inbox Formula and apply to become a Campaign Refinery client today!

Written by Eilaf Meenai

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