A Small Business Guide to Starting a Newsletter

Written by
• 4 minute read
Small Business Guide to Starting a Newsletter

A lot has happened since email went out of fashion. Media went social. Memes went viral. Influencers influenced.

But now, marketing has come full circle. Email is back.

A newsletter is a great way for small businesses to connect with customers. It keeps your brand top of mind — but only if your customers read it. So how do you break through the inbox clutter and get your customers to open? Easy: A killer subject line.

As OnDeck examines in our new infographic guide to small business newsletters, a great subject line should be short, active and emotional. Choose a digestible phrase that will leap from your customer’s inbox as they scroll, creating a sense of urgency — whether it’s fear of missing out or the feeling of a gift. But keep your approach on-brand and pay off on your promises, or it’ll be the last time the recipient opens your mail.

Pajamas, Cheese, and Emails

The UK sleepwear brand Desmond & Dempsey excels at this approach. Their regular “Leisure Letter” and occasional emails with fun subjects like A Lesson In Cheese or Fast Cats, Slow Days build the brand indirectly through recipes, intimate reflections and mouth-watering recommendations.

Only in the footer, or occasional time-sensitive emails with titles like NEW PRINT ALERT! or SAMPLE SALE!, does the brand cash in on this goodwill with a prominent sales pitch. These latter examples may sound generic, but note that both ‘print’ and ‘sample’ offer something more unique than, say, PAJAMA SALE! — especially in the context of a long-sustained email relationship.

In other words, a small business newsletter is not just where a company shares its brand but where it develops it — an intimate dialogue with a committed customer base. Kept simple but bold, informal but structured, visual but informative, an email earns the kind of attention and engagement that keeps the form valuable nearly 45 years after the first mass email campaign was launched.

OnDeck has created the only guide you need to start a small business newsletter. We’ve incorporated winning examples, tips for best practices, a comparison of the best email platforms to use, and the calculations you need to determine whether your newsletter is doing what it should. Because once you’ve achieved the task of having a customer open your email, you face the epic task of keeping them reading.

Small Business Guide to Starting a Newsletter

Click here to see the image in full size


  1. Mohsin, M. (2021). 10 email marketing stats you need to know in 2022. oberlo.co.uk
  2. Statista. (2022). Number of e-mail users worldwide from 2017 to 2025. statista.com
  3. Content Marketing Institute. (2019). Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America. contentmarketinginstitute.com
  4. Mockus, E. (2021). 10 Best Practices to Write the Perfect Email Subject Line. contentmarketinginstitute.com
  5. Fernandez, M. (2022). 164 Best Email Subject Lines to Boost Your Email Open Rates. optinmonster.com
  6. Email Design & More. (2021). 5 Simple, Yet Highly Effective Tips For Your Email Header Design. emaildesign.beefree.io
  7. Statista. (2022). Average time people spend reading brand emails from 2011 to 2021. statista.com
  8. Graham, S. (2013). 6 Email Newsletter Best Practices For Small Businesses. shawngraham.me
  9. Mailjet (2018). 7 Tips for Creating More Engaging Newsletters. mailjet.com
  10. Mary Fernandez. (2019). How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Email Campaigns. optinmonster.com
  11. Mailerlite. (2021). The 10 best ways to use embedded images in email newsletters. mailerlite.com
  12. HubSpot. (2021). Not Another State of Marketing Report 2021. hubspot.com
  13. Campaign Monitor (2019). 75 Calls to Actions to Use in Your Email Marketing Campaigns. campaignmonitor.com
  14. Forsey, C. (2022). How to Build an Email List from Scratch: 10 Incredibly Effective Strategies. hubspot.com
  15. Entrepreneur. (2020). Easy Tips for Building a Powerful Email List. entrepreneur.com
  16. Lincoln, J. (2021). Five Tips To Grow Your Email List In 2021. forbes.com
  17. Petraškienė, K. (2021). 9 killer strategies to build an email list fast and easy. omnisend.com
  18. Fernandez, M. (2019). How to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Email Campaigns. optinmonster.com
  19. Mineo, G. (2021). 6 Crucial Email Newsletter Metrics You Should Be Monitoring. hubspot.com
  20. Kolowich Cox, L. (2022). Email Analytics: The 8 Email Marketing Metrics & KPIs You Should Be Tracking. hubspot.com