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How To Create a Newsletter Content Planner

CopyPress

Published: October 24, 2022

A content planner is a document or set of publication tools that help you reach your content marketing goals. Some brands use content planners to look at the broad overview of pieces they plan to create and schedule for various channels. But your team can also create individual content planners for specific channels or campaigns. Today, we’re exploring how to create a newsletter content planner and the benefits it has for your team’s organization and strategy:

What Fields Should You Include in Your Newsletter Content Planner?

Newsletter content planners are simple documents that help you pin down all the most important information for each campaign. Here are the fields to include in the planner so that you touch on all the key points:

Send Date

The send data is exactly what it sounds like, the day you plan to send your email to subscribers. It’s important to choose a regular frequency for sending your newsletters, such as weekly, bimonthly, or quarterly. The length of your newsletter and the information you choose to share likely plays a role in picking the frequency. Your send date is the deadline for all your newsletter content. All writing, editing, layout, and revisions should be done by then.

Theme or Topic

The theme or topic of your newsletter is the focus of the content. The information you share and the things you talk about vary by brand, audience, purpose, and even the time of year. Think of the theme or topic as your main idea. What do you want people to know or understand after they’re done reading your newsletter? For example, at CopyPress, we’ve sent many newsletters recently about Google’s Helpful Content update. That theme has served as the key point for multiple newsletter campaigns. The thing that changed was the purpose.

Purpose

The purpose of your newsletter digs deeper into the theme than just a keyword alone. What are you trying to achieve with your newsletter? Do you want people to learn more about your brand? Do you want people to sign up for an event or download an asset? Are you looking for responses or replies to a poll or question?

Knowing the purpose of each newsletter helps you better understand what value the audience gets from the topic. For example, we said CopyPress sent many newsletters on Google’s Helpful Content update. Each one had a different purpose. The first newsletter informed our subscribers about the update and its changes. The ones that followed encouraged them to check their content using our content analysis tool or to sign up for one of our webinars on the topic.

Call To Action

The call to action (CTA) is the cue to tell the audience what action you want them to complete. The CTA usually fits with your purpose and serves as that reminder to get your audience to move to the next step. For example, if the purpose of our Google Helpful Content update email was to get people to sign up for a webinar, we’d use a CTA like “Register for the Webinar Today!”

CTAs are most eye-catching and appear best when you include them in bold text or within their own boxes or buttons. This helps the CTA stand out from the rest of the newsletter content.

Subject Line

The subject line is one factor that makes or breaks whether people open an email newsletter at all. The subject line should incorporate your theme and purpose, but in a way that makes readers want to click and learn more. There are plenty of tricks you can try to get people to take notice of the emails you send, and that intrigues them enough to click.

Related: 7 Tips for Writing Compelling Newsletter Subject Lines

How To Create a Newsletter Content Planner in 7 Steps

Use these steps to create a content planner for sending your newsletter to subscribers:

1. Create a Newsletter Content Planner Template

When you create a newsletter content planner, it’s not a one-use document. You should expect to use the content planner for every email newsletter campaign you send to help stay organized. The easiest way to do that is to create a content planner template that you can reuse for each campaign. Add all the important fields discussed above to make sure you’re including the most important information in each campaign.

The benefit of creating your own content planner template is that it’s completely customizable. You can add additional fields, such as team member responsibilities or ways to connect your newsletter content to other campaign initiatives.

2. Pick the Send Date and Time for Your Newsletter

It’s important to know from the beginning of your content planning when you expect to send your email. For newsletter publications, your audience expects and appreciates consistency. Choose how often you want to send your newsletter, whether it’s weekly, monthly, or another timeframe that works for your team. Then look at a calendar and pick the day of the week and time of day you plan to send each newsletter. Knowing the deadline in advance helps you set a realistic and achievable creation and publication schedule.

3. Develop a Publication Schedule for the Content

When you know the day and time you plan to send your email newsletters, then you can set your production and publication schedule. Within this schedule, include every step in the process, from ideation to when you hit the send button. Areas to consider include:

  • Ideation and topic selection
  • Research and resource collection
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Quality assurance
  • Layout
  • Scheduling

Set an allotted time for each of these activities. Then select the right team member to handle each one. When setting your publication schedule, make sure you give the newsletter plenty of time to pass through each phase and reach the deadline with no snags.

4. Choose a Newsletter Topic or Theme

Earlier, we said the newsletter topic or theme is the main idea of the piece. You may use the same topic or theme for multiple campaigns. For example, if you send your newsletter weekly, you may cover one topic for an entire month. Even if you use the same theme over and over, the content won’t be exactly the same. Instead, you’ll choose a distinct purpose and CTA for every email to provide your audience with valuable content that builds on each other.

5. Select a Purpose

The purpose of your newsletter is the reason you’re sending it. This section is the spin that takes your topic and makes it unique from other newsletters you create around the same main idea. Some purposes you could select for your brand newsletter include:

  • Informing your audience about important and timely industry news or topics
  • Updating your audience about company news
  • Encouraging your audience to buy a product or service from your company
  • Distributing high-quality resources to your audience
  • Connecting with your audience on a more personal level
  • Increasing cross-promotion of other content marketing assets
  • Testing new marketing ideas or concepts on segments of your target audience
  • Generating qualified leads for your sales team
  • Inviting two-way communication between your brand and its audience through polls or surveys

6. Develop a Call-To-Action

After you know why you’re writing your newsletter, focus on what you want your audience to do after they’ve read the content. With all content marketing, you don’t just want your audience to view it and move on. You want them to think about what you’ve said and become inspired to engage with your brand even more. But your audience won’t know to take those steps to engage on their own. That’s why you prompt them with CTAs.

In your newsletter content planner, consider the most effective CTAs for the purposes of your newsletter. Record the CTA text, delivery format like a button or link, and the destination and information the audience encounters when they take that next step. For example, if the purpose of your newsletter is to get your audience to download an eBook, there are a few pieces of the CTA to account for in your content planner:

  • Text language that prompts your audience to click to download the eBook
  • A link, button, content form, or another method that allows them to click or submit information to download the eBook
  • The eBook asset the audience member receives after completing the action, and how they access it

CTAs are more complex than just a few snappy words on the page. It’s important to consider all aspects of the feature when putting information into your content planner.

7. Write Your Subject Line and Preview Text

Though some may prefer to write their subject lines and preview text first, we’ve included this item as the last to record in your content planner. It’s easier to write a succinct, catchy headline when you understand the content you’re previewing. And it’s easier to understand by looking through the finished product rather than just the main topic.

The primary goal of a subject line is to get people to open your emails. But the titles shouldn’t look spammy or be clickbait. A better way to get opens is to appeal to the audience’s sense of value. What are they going to get out of taking the time to read your email? If you’re still stuck for subject line ideas, consider using a subject line generator to get ideas. You can also use a subject line checker to score your subject line and learn details about things like word choice and character count.

Why Should You Use a Content Planner for Your Newsletter?

Though email newsletters are a form of direct communication between brands and their audience, they’re also another form of publication. And unlike with a blog post or article published online, once the email hits inboxes, you can’t go back and make a quick change without resending the entire newsletter. Using a content planner for your newsletter helps your team make sure they hit deadlines and create the best high-quality content on the first try. Some other reasons to create a content planner for your newsletter production include:

  • Developing unique ideas: Using a content planner for your newsletter helps ensure that each email you send differs from the last. Even if you cover a similar topic, adjusting the purpose and CTA lets you provide unique value with each communication.
  • Evenly distributing resources: Working with a content planner lets you review the available resources you have for any project and distribute them evenly to get the job done.
  • Locking down a production schedule: Using a content planner, especially one with a content calendar, helps you schedule when you plan to share each newsletter so that your audience relies on predictable delivery.
  • Increasing audience engagement: By planning your CTAs and subject lines, a newsletter content planner helps you work to increase metrics like your open and click-through rates. These metrics help measure your audience engagement for every campaign.

Related: What Is a Content Planner and What Can It Do for You?

What Tools Can You Use To Create a Newsletter Content Planner?

You don’t have to use an elaborate scheduling program to create your newsletter content planner. In most cases, a spreadsheet tool like Google Sheets or a content workspace like Notion is enough to set up your content planner. Both types of tools allow you to customize fields or project cards to include all the information you want to add to your planner. And you can use them again and again over multiple campaigns.

If you’re not sure if you want to start your newsletter content planner from scratch, you can choose from a variety of content templates. Sources like Smartsheet have a variety of options to choose from. Use the premade templates and adjust them for your newsletter or use the layouts as idea generators for templates you make yourself.

Subscribe to the CopyPress Newsletter For More Planning Tips

Whether you’re looking for information about content marketing, or need tips on how to set up your own newsletter, CopyPress can help. Sign up for our email newsletter to get insight delivered right to your inbox. Each week, we cover a hot content marketing topic. Then we provide resources and links to other helpful content to help you stay ahead of the marketing curve.

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