It’s no secret that newsletters connect brands and consumers.
In fact, in a 2021 survey conducted among advertisers who spent $10k+ annually on ads, 86% said newsletters provided a vital connection between their brand and audience. And 88% said newsletters would become a valuable way to reach target audiences without third-party data.
In other words, high-converting newsletters can be an integral part of a successful marketing strategy.
Whether you’ve already witnessed the power of newsletters or you’re starting one for the first time, we’re here to help.
In today’s article, we’ll break down what a newsletter is, how to write one, and ten best practices for newsletter content and design.
Let’s take a look.
What is a Newsletter?
An email newsletter is a type of email that brands send to their audiences to provide information about the latest company news, updates, or tips.
Newsletters come in all shapes and sizes, depending on a brand’s goals. The most common reason brands use newsletter marketing is to gently push readers toward conversion.
How To Write a Newsletter
Writing a newsletter is pretty straightforward. First, consider your goals, then set the newsletter up, step-by-step.
Here’s a summary of how to write a newsletter:
- Define your goals concretely — what exactly are you looking to achieve?
- Give your target audience a reason to sign-up; for instance, use lead magnets.
- Write a powerful subject line.
- Hook readers in the opening line.
- Build connection and relatability by telling a story.
- Have a strong, relevant connection between the subject line and body.
In the next section, we’ll show you ten newsletter content and design best practices to help you build high-converting newsletters.
10 Newsletter Content and Design Best Practices
Here are our ten best content and design tips for composing engaging newsletters.
1. Use a Compelling Email Subject Line
Writing compelling email subject lines is essential when trying to spark curiosity and entice prospects to read your newsletter.
Email subject lines don’t just set the tone for your newsletter; they’re also the first impression your reader sees — so make it count.
To write a compelling email subject line, consider your target audience. What kind of value do you want them to walk away with? Why is it important for them to read your email?
Whatever you do, don’t include spammy words like “buy,” “near you,” or overpromising words like “guarantee” or “fantastic deal.”
When you include these words in your subject lines, email providers could flag them and send your emails to spam. The same goes for special characters or writing in all caps.
Instead, focus on conveying authenticity and value.
By following the template “hook + value,” you can encourage the right readers to open your emails.
Here are some examples of hook + value subject lines:
- Jane saw results in 30 days, wanna see how?
- I lost ten pounds in two weeks. Here’s what I learned
- The moment you’ve been waiting for. 20% off everything until March
- 11 ways to grow your savings in 2022
2. Vary Educational vs. Promotional Content
To encourage your audience to read your newsletters regularly, you have to give them a reason to. In other words, you have to make it worth their while.
So, what’s in it for them? What kind of content can they derive value from?
For instance, do you share actionable advice and takeaways? Do you share motivational or thought leadership content? Do you share in-depth guides and training?
If you solely focus on sharing promotional content, it may be difficult to get the conversions you’re aiming for.
To strike the right balance, consider following the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of your content should be valuable and the other 20% should be promotional.
For instance, let’s say you run an event management company and you send out a newsletter each week. To follow the 80/20 rule, three of your newsletters should convey value and one should be promotional.
Here’s an example of what that might look like:
- Week 1: Show your readers how to save money when planning a wedding.
- Week 2: Teach your audience how to hire event vendors, step-by-step.
- Week 3: Show your recipients how to manage regrets and RSVPs online.
- Week 4: Share a powerful customer testimonial. Then segway into inviting readers to sign up for one of your event packages. Include a discount to make it extra enticing.
With informational content, you even build backlinks to your domain.
3. Personalize Your Emails
Personalization has proven to be an indispensable marketing strategy in the US.
In fact, 78 to 96% of industry professionals infuse personalization into their marketing strategies.
And we can see why.
63% of professionals who’ve infused personalization into their marketing strategies say they’ve seen increased conversation rates as a result.
Audiences respond well to personalization because it helps them feel seen and heard instead of just being a number on your list. Even something as simple as addressing the reader by name can make them feel like they’re hearing from a friend.
Here are some other ways you can personalize your newsletters:
- Refer to the recipient’s purchase history before recommending specific products
- Address and solve a common pain point readers have
- Segment your lists by audience and funnel stage
- Tailor content according to what funnel stage your prospects are in
- Make sure real people write your copy, don’t use a bot writer
- Keep all copy relevant and timely
4. Have a Clear Call to Action
Not every newsletter will be promotional, but every newsletter should include a call to action (CTA).
It’s important that readers continue engaging with your brand beyond just reading your emails. The more touchpoints prospects have with your business, the more opportunities you’ll have to build a true connection with them, and eventually nurture them to conversion.
When deciding on a CTA, keep it relevant. For instance, if you shared your latest apple crumble recipe in the newsletter, consider inviting your readers to check out some of your other apple-themed desserts. You could also ask them to download your free guide on making crumbles, cobblers, and pies.
Here are some other CTA best practices to keep in mind:
- Keep your CTA above the fold.
- Keep your CTA short and to the point, for instance, “download our free guide here.”
- Make sure your CTA button text is easy to spot, read, and click on. Aim for noticeable, but not obnoxious.
- Test first-person CTAs to see if they generate more clicks. For instance, test CTAs like “access my free training now” or “claim my freebie.”
- Keep your CTA clean by making sure there’s plenty of white space.
- Create a sense of urgency. For instance, try CTAs like “shop now” or “get 10% off, today only.”
5. Direct Readers to Your Website
There’s no shortage of content you can repurpose to encourage readers to visit your website and get to know you better.
Just finished uploading your latest blog post? Share a juicy snippet and invite readers to finish reading it on your blog.
Just launched your latest free courses? Take readers on a quick video tour, then share a link inviting them to sign up.
Any business in any industry can use this method to direct more prospects to its website.
For instance, this blog post ranking the best banks for college students could be easily reworked into a newsletter that drives traffic back to a website.
The brand could create a bulleted list in the newsletter and say, “here are some of the industry’s best banks for college students featured in our latest blog post. Click here to see the complete list.”
By giving readers just a taste of the information, you can encourage them to follow on to your site and continue learning more.
6. Design for Readability and Accessibility
When designing your newsletter, always consider your branding. All aspects of your marketing strategies must look cohesive and recognizable. Otherwise, it may be challenging to establish a strong brand image.
Great design also enhances readability and makes your newsletter feel more intuitive and accessible. If you’ve ever received a newsletter with crowded elements, tiny text, and an exhaustive amount of information, then you know what we mean.
Something as subtle as even the shapes used in your logo can inspire the design of your newsletter and pull everything together.
The above image showcases three instantly recognizable brand logos. Their unique and creative shaping helps instantly establish an image in your head. If one of these companies sent you a newsletter and the branding or logo was completely different, it would be jarring or even off-putting. That’s why keeping your branding consistent from your newsletter to your website is vital.
To design for readability and accessibility, follow these tips:
- Use clean typography
- Use left-aligned text
- Use color to draw attention to important headings
- Only put one space after a period
- Only use images that are clear and bring value to the newsletter
- Include plenty of white space
- Make sure the design feels intuitive and easy to use
7. Optimize for Mobile
Always make sure your emails are optimized for mobile before pushing live. A quick and easy way to do this is to send the email to yourself first and then view it on your phone.
When looking it over, check to make sure no images or text are bleeding off the page. You don’t want your reader scrolling left or right to make out the content. Instead, everything should be vertically aligned with proper spacing, legible font, and clean photos. It’s also important to make sure that all elements load quickly.
To fast-track this, consider investing in mobile-friendly layouts and design elements.
8. Use of GIFs, Images, Memes
Show off your brand’s personality and tell a story with memes, GIFs, and images.
When deciding which to embed in your newsletters, consider the content. What kind of visuals would enhance your content?
If you’re telling a funny story, consider embedding funny GIFs to get a laugh out of your audience.
If you’re sharing a tutorial, include explanatory images and screenshots to support each tip.
If you’re touching on something cultural or topical, write a story using memes.
Before including any kind of visual, consider what kind of value readers would gain from it. If it doesn’t further your point, enhance your story, convey an important emotion, or teach your audience something, choose a different visual aid.
9. Use Alt-Text
Alt-text stands for “alternative text,” and it’s displayed with an image. You can think of it as backup text describing the visuals you’ve included in your newsletter in case they don’t load properly.
Another important reason to use alt-text is to support the visually impaired. Individuals with a visual impairment may use a screen reader to listen to a description of your images.
10. A/B Test Your Emails
Before pushing live on your email campaigns, run A/B tests to see which options have the most engagement.
With A/B testing, you’ll take a newsletter sample, copy it, and then change one of the elements on the copied version. Then, you’ll test both versions to see which is most successful.
For instance, you can change the layout of the copied newsletter, or you can use a different video or main image. Then, run two different ads or focus groups and test both the control option and the varied element.
Newsletters provide a vital connection point between brands and audiences — and it’s no surprise why.
Email is as close as you can get to your ideal client. By providing exponential value and building genuine relationships, you can use newsletter marketing to boost conversion rates and hit your goals.
Ready to draw nearer to your audience with newsletter marketing?
Here’s a reminder of the ten best newsletter content and design best practices we shared today:
- 1. Use a Compelling Email Subject Line
- 2. Vary Educational vs. Promotional Content
- 3. Personalize Your Emails
- 4. Have a Clear Call to Action
- 5. Direct Readers to Your Website
- 6. Design for Readability and Accessibility
- 7. Optimize for Mobile
- 8. Use of GIFs, Images, Memes
- 9. Use Alt Text
- 10. A/B Test Your Emails
Now it’s your turn to write the perfect newsletter.