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It’s time to start writing a newsletter…

Sep 21, 2015 | Workshop

Now that you’re got your Little Majlis store up and running, it’s important that you take ownership of your shop front and and start spreading the word. After all, the best place to start growing your business is with your current followers. So one thing you might want to do, in order to keep your fans up to date with all your plans and products, is to send out a newsletter regularly.

We’re recently had a few chats with Little Majlis shop keepers who have said that they would like to send out newsletters but they don’t know how or they don’t have the time. Well there is one thing we can promise you – newsletters are super quick and easy to generate (and inexpensive!) and over time the rewards will mean you actually have more time on your hands!

So we have decided to pull together some top tips for writing a newsletter for your small business. It’s rather dry (not so many snaps people!) but we mean business. And please remember we are also learning, so we’ll be adding to this post with updates as and when we learn from our mistakes…

Customer retention is a huge, complex subject. At a minimum it consists of a fab product, excellent customer service, and great prices. But as we keep saying, there is no point losing sleep to provide these products and services if you are not maintaining a relationship with the customer, and keeping them informed and excited about what you do and sell. After all, if a customer buys something and never hears from you after receiving the product, they may well forget about your boutique within a week or two. But what if you had an amazing branded newsletter reminding them you existed, and bringing them back to your online shopfront time and again?

At Little Majlis we send out a newsletter at the beginning of each month with general updates, such as new store openings and promotions, as well as links to our shopkeeper ‘meet…’ blogs and fresh finds at the marketplace.

We also send out more specific mailers during the month based on seasonal events such as Eid or Fathers Day gift ideas.

Writing up a whole newsletter so often might seem daunting, but actually we’re going to let the cat out of the bag, it is a whole lot easier than you’d think… meaning that the value for money (your time and the typical free cost of using a mailer template verses customer retention) makes writing a regular newsletter for your small e-commerce business a no brainer.

So what are you waiting for?

Creating an effective email newsletter for your small business requires a lot more than just having the right content. From your subject line to your layout, your ability to engage your audience and generate more leads will have just as much to do with how your newsletter looks as what you actually have to say.

You can have the greatest content in the world, but if it’s impossible to quickly and easily get to grips with what you are trying to say there’s a pretty good chance nobody’s ever going to take the time to take a second glance.

Visual content and aesthetics are important (this goes for everything related to your online store!). Remember customers can not touch your products or meet you in person so you need to use your graphics and photos to illustrate your quality, attention to detail and the boutique style.  Basically your newsletter needs to reflect your brand and it’s character, so that even if your followers don’t read your content they are immediately reminded of why they love your product and service. It’s that simple!

We have recently come across an AMAZING website called Canva that makes this kind of thing super quick, easy and rather good looking.  So if generating graphic content for your newsletter (and social media for that matter) is getting you down, the solution is to click here!

A newsletter works, that’s why all your competitors are sending them, but it also means you are fighting for attention.  You therefore have to keep your content and layout simple and straight to the point; trying to cover everything in one continuous block of text just isn’t going to cut it –  if you look at it and don’t have the will to sift through the text, no one else will either.

If you’re going to pull your fans in, your content needs to be kept simple and straight to the point. In fact let your pictures / photos doing the talking for you.

All newsletters have a subject line that appears in the mail summary on your fans email list.  The subject line is therefore the first thing most subscribers see, before they even decide whether or not to open your newsletter.

Don’t take the easy route with your subject line; you are a creative person so you can do better then “Newsletter No 3”. Have some fun and come up with an exciting subject line that you think will entice the recipient to click through and have a read of the full newsletter. For example rather then ‘August Newsletter’ (which we use to do at Little Majlis!) why not try something that refers to the newsletter content such as ‘Shop for quirky customised finds at Little Majlis this August…’ which relates to the theme we were using at Little Majlis for that particular month.

Got a great new product, a sale on certain items or perhaps a collaboration in the pipeline? Your newsletter is the perfect place to announce it to the world. You should open the newsletter with a large, inviting banner sharing the best you have to offer.

Little Majlis shopkeepers have a boutique feel – that’s why you are part of the community, so make sure your newsletters reflect this. Your followers love you for who you are so they don’t want to receive an overly commercial filled mailer.

Your newsletter is a fab opportunity to share product information and news, or perhaps highlight features of your shopfront that you feel are being under utilised.

For example did you get great feedback from a customer who purchased a product? Why not show the feedback and include a link (URL) to where it has been written in your online store? You can also share tips and tricks for your product and perhaps invite feedback for what your clients would like to see in new product ranges or collections. This will not only make your fans feel like they belong to a community, but it will provide you with valuable feedback and direction regarding the development of your product line.

There is no point sending out a mailer and getting peoples attention if they can’t act on the cues you are providing, so make certain that you add links through to your shop front. You have put temptation directly in your fans inbox and you want them to be able to follow through with a purchase! Remember your shops direct URL is

Don’t be annoying. We all know there can be too much of a good thing!

In general sending out a newsletter once every month is usually enough to stay in your customers minds. Sending a newsletter weekly can easily become too much for your fans, and more then likely will cause them to unsubscribe, especially if you are sending it out because you feel you have to, rather then offering something of benefit to the client, such as a new product or a super deal that they will gain from.

A high-quality, good looking, attention grabbing monthly newsletter can do wonders for your brand, customer retention, sense of community and most importantly sales. Remember its all trial and error through so don’t be afraid to try new things. Start paying attention to the analytics of your sent newsletters as well as reviewing newsletters you receive and making notes of what you like as well as what you don’t like. The best approach is to give it a go and make adjustments according to the feedback and data you gather.

Before you get started you’ll need a means to distribute your newsletters easily.

There are loads of options available for doing this that you can sign up to online including MailChimp and Campaign Monitor.

Both offer really simple campaign and list management, make generating a newsletter template super easy.  They also both enable you to analyse your newsletter statistics (percentage opened, must popular links etc) which is crucial in allowing you to make the most of your newsletter as a tool for pushing traffic towards your online shopfront.

At we use mailchimp (it’s simple, effective and FREE which equals no excuses!) so we are going to talk you through this option…

All you will need to do is to create an account. Enter your email address, and choose a username and password. When you click Create My Account, you agree to MailChimp’s terms. The main things to note are that MailChimp reserve the right to view and review your emails. You’re also not allowed to send out spam. 

Once you’ve signed up you’ll be sent an email from MailChimp Client Services. Click the button to activate your account and get things going! You’ll be asked to click a reCAPTCHA code to prove you’re human and not a spammer.

You’ll be redirected to a page where you are asked to complete your details (name, company, address, website etc). You must enter these before you can continue. For your website enter your direct shop URL (

When you’re done, click Save and get started.

Now you can start setting up! You need to know MailChimp has its own special words for various functions. For example:

  • A ‘list’ is the people who have signed up to receive your newsletter (you can have more then one list for different recipients. For example at we have a list for all our members and a list for just our shopkeepers only as we have different content to send to each.
  • A ‘template’ is a format that you generate to use for different newsletter types (if you choose to have more then one). For example you might have a particular format for your monthly mailers and another one for specific events you are attending or to showcase new products only.
  • Once you start putting content in a specific template for a newsletter it becomes a ‘campaign’

And seriously we have bored you enough, so it’s time for you to just get cracking and start firing out those newsletters. Mailchimp is really intuitive so no prep reading is really required – just follow the instructions and you are good to go. However if you need some direction, their Quick Start Guide can be downloaded here.

And don’t forget to support your fellow Little Majlis shopkeepers and sign up for their newsletters too. We are all small businesses on the road to great things and we’ll get there faster if we all join in.

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