13 Tips for Great Email Newsletter Design

Author avatar wrote on 09/10/2019

13 Tips for Great Email Newsletter Design

Email marketing is an internet marketing channel that allows the company to send promotional messages or materials to groups of people by email. Usually, these messages contain ads, commercial notes, sales proposal, or a call for business.

It commonly involves using email to send ads, request business, or sales and is meant to build loyalty, trust, or brand recognition. Marketing emails can be sent to a purchased lead list or a customer database. The term usually refers to sending email messages with the purpose of increasing a vendor’s relationship with current or previous customers, encouraging customer loyalty and repeat business.


1. Provide content worth reading

This should be obvious really, but it’s surprising the number of newsletters that are sent out that are just a list of adverts.

Nobody watches TV just for the adverts, no matter how entertaining they might be. So, make sure that you are providing some useful and interesting content that your subscribers might actually want to read.

Now, obviously, you’ll want to put adverts in your newsletter too. You have to earn a living, after all. But make sure that there is something else to keep your readers interested, even if that just means special offers.

If you can provide tips and advice, or industry news, these are key things that your subscribers may be interested in.

2. Decide on the design

The content is important but so too is the presentation. A good design is integral to the success of a newsletter and it is also a great way of being unique and standing out from the rest. Use corporate designs that can be seen clearly and that adapt to different devices so that the reader can identify your brand at a glance.

3. Balance your newsletter content to be 90% educational and 10% promotional

Chances are, your email newsletter subscribers don’t want to hear about your products and services 100% of the time. While they may love you and want to hear from you, there’s only so much shilling you can do before they tune out.

Case in point: I have a thing for shoes, and I especially love this one shoe site. I willingly opted in to the company’s email list, but it now sends me emails 2-3 times a day to buy, buy, buy … and when I see it’s sender name pop up in my inbox, I want to scream. If they sent me educational content — maybe about the latest styles of shoes, or how to pair certain styles with certain outfits — I might be more inclined to buy from them, or at least start opening their emails again.

Don’t be that company. In your email newsletters, get rid of the self-promotion (most of the time) and focus on sending your subscribers educational, relevant, timely information. Unless you actually have an exciting, big piece of news about your product, service, or company, leave out the promotional parts.

4.Connect to trending topics or events

Depending on the nature of your newsletter, you may want to connect your content to popular topics or events. Marketers often want to be in the know about the latest trends, so to provide your own commentary around them can be an effective way to include your brand into the conversation.

5. Create Visual Hierarchy

This design principle requires creating a sense of what is important to the reader through the use of position, size, color, contrast and shapes.

At a glance, it should be very obvious what elements are the most important and what you want the reader to focus on.

An effective use of font sizes and color are the easiest and most common ways designers can create a sense of importance within the body of an email.

6. Keep it short and simple

People are busy. So make sure that people can get the information they need from your newsletter quickly and easily. So make sure you don’t waffle on when you don’t need to. It also means, don’t cram your newsletters with too much information and too many different articles.

There are lots of companies with grand ideas about running a newsletter and they fill their first edition with 10 different articles and several thousand words.

When it comes to the next edition, they’ve run out of ideas and can barely manage a couple of articles. It looks too different to the first newsletter so they put it off until they can think of more articles to put in it.

After a couple of months, the impetus disappears and the next edition never happens.

Even if you’ve thought of lots of articles for your first newsletter, you don’t have to put them all in. Hold some back for the next newsletter. The newsletter will be more appealing to your subscribers and you’re less likely to get writer’s block next time.

7. Use images to compliment the information

We are visual creatures and images can be a great way of catching the reader’s eye and encouraging them to take action. Choosing the right photograph is as important as writing good text, you have to combine both actions in order to create a good content. Depending on the objectives, you will sometimes have to give more importance to one over the other, but ideally there is a balance to be found where the images serve to illustrate and reinforce the impact of the content on the reader and make the message more attractive overall.

8. Pay attention to the header

The header is one of the most important elements in any newsletter, as it is the first thing a person sees when they open your mailing. Pay extra attention to this section and, above all, make it unique and recognizable. The reader must be aware that they are reading your newsletter from the get-go. If they have already read your newsletters before and found them interesting, then there is a good that they will continue reading and not delete them.

9. Keep an eye on the analytics

Services like MailChimp can provide you with oodles of information about what your subscribers are doing with your newsletters, but don’t get too obsessed with it. Analytics can give you a clue as to what is working and what isn’t in general terms, but get too distracted and you’ll overthink it. 

There are many elements to keep in mind when you are creating your newsletter. Try and use your instinct and trust that with practice you’ll begin to feel what’s right and what’s not.

10. Encourage feedback

Physical newsletters were traditionally one-way pieces of communication, but the web should be all about two-way conversations. Digital newsletters, in other words, are a great way to get people involved. Consider introducing a competition, for example, or asking for feedback.

In time, your newsletters will help build a community of sorts, and your updates will feel more like a message to a group of likeminded people than an anonymous broadcast.

11. Be a magpie

Always remain on the lookout for interesting stuff to include in your newsletter. Bookmark inspiring web pages, write down captivating quotes, take pictures. Write about your experiences. It’s much nicer when you sit down to put your newsletter together to feel like you aren’t starting from scratch.

12. Pick one primary call-to-action

Okay, part of what makes a newsletter a newsletter is that you’re featuring multiple pieces of content with multiple calls-to-action (CTAs). But, that doesn’t mean you should let those CTAs share equal prominence. 

Instead, let there be one head honcho CTA — just one main thing that you would like your subscribers to do. The rest of the CTAs should be “in-case-you-have-time” options. Whether it’s simply to click through to see a blog post or just to forward the email to a friend, make it super simple for your subscribers to know what you want them to do.

13. Be regular

If you are used to sending a weekly emailing on Monday, then always do it that way. There is nothing like the lack of regularity to mislead the user. Sometimes you can make an exception, as there may be an occasional need that may arise but try not to make it the general rule. Set a calendar with your publications and stick to the plan. It is a good way to get loyalty.

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