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9 Email Newsletter Best Practices

By: Compose.ly — November 14, 2019

Email newsletters are one of the most effective tools for engaging prospective and current clients while promoting your brand. If you’re skeptical, just take a look at the following stats.

The numbers make it clear: email marketing is a worthwhile strategy for engaging customers and getting them to convert. Of course, crafting the perfect newsletter for your brand is far easier said than done. To optimize your email campaigns for better performance, try these 9 best practices.

1. Set clear, measurable objectives

Determine what you want to accomplish from your email newsletter before you write the first line. Knowing what you want to accomplish, whether it’s generating more leads or boosting client retention, will guide you in creating your email content. After all, whatever your goals, your emails should provide relevant information that’s useful to potential and current clients.

Sample newsletter objectives include:

  • Spread brand awareness
  • Keep customers informed about your brand’s offerings and updates
  • Develop a larger following
  • Collect user reviews and testimonials
  • Sell your product or service

Attach quantifiable targets to these objectives—goals that you can easily measure and track. For instance, if you’re focused on raising brand awareness, perhaps your target would be to increase your email subscriber base and social media followers by a certain percentage.

2. Define your newsletter’s purpose for readers

Clearly establish what your subscribers should expect when receiving emails from you. That includes:

  • What your newsletter is about,
  • The benefits of signing up for your newsletter, and
  • How often you plan on emailing subscribers.

Providing this information upfront helps to set expectations for your readers—and as you deliver content that aligns with these expectations, your brand will establish trust with them. Respecting the use of your readers’ email address goes a long way toward maintaining a positive relationship.

On that note, it’s important that you don’t mislead your subscribers or send them content that they didn’t sign up for; this is grounds for unsubscribing and will leave a bad taste of your brand.

3. Write engaging subject lines

Smartphones only show about 25 to 30 characters in an email subject line, while a desktop inbox reveals about 60.

What does this mean for your emails?

You need to capture your readers’ attention right from the start, so keep the subject line as concise and creative as possible.

Moreover, try to sound as natural as possible. With an overly salesy subject line, your subscribers will, at best, avoid opening your mail. At worst, they’ll unsubscribe.

Also consider testing your subject lines with a tool like CoSchedule’s Email Subject Line Tester. After some time has passed, remember to revisit your subject lines; if your emails are seeing a poor open rate, it may be worth rewriting them.

4. Follow design and formatting best practices

There’s no one way to design your email for optimal performance. Some brands add images and flair to make their emails more visual…

Eventbrite email newsletter example

…While others keep them fairly minimal.

Brian Dean newsletter screenshot

Regardless of which approach you take, though, there are several universal best practices for making your emails more readable and visually appealing.

  • Choose a legible font face and size. Fonts like Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet, and Helvetica are especially popular because they’re easy to read and installed across almost every device.
  • Minimize the use of different typefaces and colors. Using five different fonts and four colors will make your email look messy.
  • Avoid low-contrast color palettes, e.g., neon yellow font against a white background.
  • Make longer blocks of text more readable by using line breaks, shorter sentences and paragraphs, and numbered and bulleted lists.
  • Above all else, keep it concise. Don’t overload your subscribers with a cluttered newsletter.

5. Keep your newsletter brand-specific

Like the rest of your content strategy, your newsletter should adhere to your brand’s standards for design, voice, and tone.

People who have subscribed to your newsletter are generally interested in your brand and what you have to say—so it’s jarring if they receive content that doesn’t quite match your website. Aim for consistency in your brand voice instead.

Don’t be afraid to have fun, though. Users who subscribe to your newsletter tend to be the ones most engaged with your brand, and they’re ready to hear from you.

6. Optimize for mobile devices

According to Adestra, about 62% of all emails are opened on a mobile device. With the number steadily increasing, it’s more important than ever to optimize your content for mobile readership.

Some simple but effective newsletter best practices for mobile optimization include:

  • Use responsive design so that your emails won’t “break” on a smaller screen.
  • Avoid long blocks of text. Try to keep your email on the shorter side, or at least make it more digestible with bullet points and lists.
  • Size your images appropriately so they’ll load faster.
  • Enlarge CTA buttons for better clickability.
  • Test your emails across different mobile devices to ensure they work for all users.

7. Personalize your content

Personalized content tends to be more meaningful than broad, generic content. After all, no one likes feeling like just another face in the crowd.

To effectively tailor your content to specific segments of your readership, you’ll need to track user information collected during the signup process or through other interactions. For instance, that may include:

  • What users are looking for in content
  • Purchase history
  • Geographical location
  • Demographics
Big Tip
If you’ve developed user personas for your brand, now’s the time to use them. Use these personas to get a better idea of what readers are looking for with your newsletter.

8. Balance information and sales

Most readers are aware that by signing up for a newsletter, they’ll likely receive a promotional email or two about your brand. It’s a given, but that doesn’t mean you should send salesy emails so liberally.

Balance the amount of information and sales in your emails instead. A good rule of thumb: aim for a 90/10 balance.

In other words, 90% of your content should be educational. It should include relevant information to your readership that keeps them engaged and informed. The remaining 10% is promotional. Take the opportunity to let readers know how your service or product can help them with a call to action.

9. Include contact information and appropriate links

Lastly, don’t forget to include your contact info. That includes a link to your website as well as any relevant social media channels.

These crucial pieces of information invite users to further interact with your brand. With links to your LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook readily available, curious readers will be able to click away and learn more.

This information doesn’t have to come at the end, by the way. Check out how the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley displays important links and social media channels right at the beginning of its newsletter.

Greater Good Science Center email newsletter screenshot

Conclusion

Done well, a regular newsletter can cultivate stronger customer-brand relationships and highlight your expertise. Of course, it can be daunting when you’re just starting out.

Don’t be discouraged by a low number of subscribers when you launch your first newsletter. Provided that you continue sending valuable content, your readers will grow over time—and with the right CTAs, you’ll see corresponding returns in your business.


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