Email newsletters can be an ideal way to engage with your audience and keep them informed about your business. They are an effective marketing tool because they are personal and targeted. Good Email newsletters can bring in consistent website traffic and sales as well as helping you to gain sign-ups for events and webinars. However, they must be well-designed and executed in order to be effective in these areas. 

Catchy subject lines

Your subject line is important because it determines whether your newsletter is opened or deleted. Your subject line should clearly convey what your newsletter is about. It should be clear, catchy or contain an enticing call to action. If your open and engagement rates are low, your subject lines are the first thing you should be evaluating. Where appropriate, you may want to convey a sense of urgency, such as when your newsletter contains a limited time offer, as this can get people to click and open without hesitation. On the whole, creative subject lines are a winner; consider using engaging questions, hint at the content within in a way that entices people to open the email and ensure each newsletter has an original, creative and relevant subject line to keep people clicking.

Clear focus

Often, companies send cluttered newsletters cramming in anything and everything to do with their business from product news and offers to blog posts, business news and random events. These are often bundled in together with no clear structure or focus and this creates a messy image that nobody wants to read. Effective email newsletters are clear and focused on one, or a few relevant, things. Your newsletters should have a specific focus or a common thread holding them together. Whilst you may be tempted to share content from all over your website, you will have better engagement rates if you keep your focus simple. Maybe consider having a key topic each week, considering which information will be of most interest or benefit to your audience at a specific time. Having a clear focus will also help you to gain subscribers as you can clearly convey what to expect on your subscriber landing page.  

One primary call to action

This follows from the previous point. Whilst you may have multiple pieces of content and call to actions in some of your newsletters, you should have one primary objective and make this stand out. It should be clear and obvious to your subscribers what you want them to do. Your primary call to action should be very visible and well-placed. You can always have more subtle call to actions in addition, such as an ‘in case you have time’ section at the end, but don’t give these equal prominence as it may create confusion or a sense of overload.

Balanced promotional and educational content

People do not want to feel as though companies are constantly trying to sell to them. Whilst there may be times when you are running a great promotional offer and this can be the specific focus of a newsletter, you need to balance this with engaging educational content that is interesting and relevant to your audience. Create content relevant to the industry you work in, targeted at informing, educating and inspiring people whilst keeping the self-promotion to a minimum. This adds value to your offering and draws people in subtly, who may then purchase at a later time. It also helps you to establish a reputation as an expert in your field.

Minimal design and copy

Keep your newsletter visually appealing. People will not want to read something that is a cluttered eye sore. Keep your copy concise; you don’t want to display an entire blog post, for example, in your email. The purpose of the email is to direct the reader elsewhere, such as your website or blog. Make sure you have enough white space in your design as this helps to break things up and prevent a cluttered feel. It also helps people to navigate and click the right links when reading on mobile devices.

Images have alt text

Alt text is the alternative text which appears in place of images when they are not loaded in an email. This is important because most people don’t have images enabled. If your call to actions are images, this is especially important as it can ensure people are clicking even if they don’t have images enabled.

Easily unsubscribe

Whilst this may seem counter-intuitive, if you want to maintain an engaged and active subscriber list then you must make it easy for people to unsubscribe if they wish. Hiding your unsubscribe button is a sure way to get your newsletters marked as SPAM, which will significantly limit your visibility in inboxes. Have a clear unsubscribe process to ensure you are reaching an interested and relevant audience.

Brand personality shines

Whilst there are some general do’s and don’ts with email newsletters, the key is to play around and test what works best for your company. Make sure that your brand personality shines through; whilst bold colours and design may work well for one company’s audience, a toned-down approach is best for another. Get to know your audience and what makes them click. Perhaps they enjoy short, funny subject lines, educational content or industry news. Assess what works well over time. People like familiarity so be consistent with your branding and let your personality shine.