Best Practices for Effective Email Newsletters
- Email newsletters are like any other marketing campaign; they need to be supported by clear objectives, consistency, and testing.
- It’s typical for beginners to find support in email marketing tools for the design, scheduling, and testing phases.
- Understanding an audience lies at the centre of successful email newsletters and should form the foundation of every decision you make in your strategy.
What are email newsletters?
The email newsletter is one of the most common forms of B2B and B2C communication within digital marketing. In simple terms, a brand’s newsletter is sent via email to subscribers who have opted in to receive updates, promotions, or other company content.
Email newsletters typically contain information about new products, special offers, industry news, and other relevant content.
Why do brands need to send a newsletter?
Though everyone seems to be raving about social media at the moment, email is still alive and well. A newsletter is a brilliant way to stay in contact with customers, nurture potential leads, and encourage brand engagement.
By keeping customers informed about new products, promotions, and updates, businesses can increase customer retention and brand loyalty. Plus, consistently sending content that’s well-designed and engaging can help businesses reinforce their values with customers, strengthening their brand identity.
Newsletters also help drive traffic to e‑commerce sites through links to products, blog posts, and special offers. By encouraging subscribers to click through and visit the website, businesses can see increased engagement, sales, and improved SEO performance.
All of these benefits can be obtained at a relatively low cost, considering how expensive other digital marketing channels can be. Email newsletters require minimal investment in terms of design and production, making them an ideal channel for low-budget campaigns.
So, to summarise, the main benefits of email newsletters include the following:
- Developing a loyal customer base
- Strengthening brand identity
- Driving traffic towards your website
- Boosting SEO
- … and it’s cheaper than alternative methods of marketing!
How can brands create a newsletter?
So, how do email newsletters actually work?
If you want to get involved and create an email newsletter from scratch, here’s what you can expect to encounter:
1. Establish your mailing list
Your first order of business needs to be collecting a list of subscribers to who you can send your newsletter. Legally, these subscribers need to “opt in.” To obtain subscribers, you need to create a sign-up form on your website, social media pages, or through other marketing channels.
To learn how you can optimise your opt-in forms, read our article here.
2. Choose a platform
Email marketing campaigns are commonly supported by and operated through the use of tools such as Mailchimp, HubSpot, or Klaviyo. There are countless tools to choose from, all offering different features that cater to various business needs.
To read our take on the top 5 email marketing tools, check out our article here. You’ll need to consider your options seriously if you’re to select the best one for your unique business.
3. Create content
Once you’ve established how you’re going to send emails and who you’re going to send them to, you need to have something to send.
The list of different types of content you could put in an email newsletter is endless. Choose from linking to blog posts, YouTube videos, product pages, company updates, and promoting special offers, new product ranges, and industry news.
Whatever the content, it should be relevant, engaging, and informative for subscribers.
4. Design your newsletter
Once your content is ready, it’s time to design the look of your newsletters. You can do this on a website such as Canva or design within your chosen email marketing platform. Most platforms offer email newsletter templates, which are great for beginners.
Make sure you customise your design to match your company’s branding and use UX techniques to optimise your emails for click-through rate (CTR) and engagement.
5. Figure out your schedule
After designing your newsletter, it’s time to create a calendar or schedule. Typically, email newsletters become part of a pre-existing content calendar, coordinating to boost the other. I.e., promoting your weekly blog posts.
Over time, your email analytics will inform you of the best time to send emails through A/B testing or informal experimentation. But for now, it’s time to get your newsletter out there!
6. Analyse and adjust
Once you’ve started sending out newsletters, you can begin to track email performance, a feature typically offered by the email marketing tools mentioned above. You’ll need to pay attention to metrics such as open rate, click-through rate, unsubscribe rate, etc.
Learn more about email marketing KPIs by checking out our article here.
The insights gained from performance analytics will help your newsletters improve over time as you spot issues and optimise certain elements.
20 best practices for email newsletters
Now that you know what’s involved in creating an email newsletter, it’s time to delve deeper into that process and learn the best practices. Firstly, it’s important to know what can go wrong.
Here are the main ways in which newsletter campaigns fail:
- Lack of strategy or planning
- Unclear targets and goals
- Poor quality or irrelevant content
- Ineffective subject lines
- Sending too many emails or spamming
- Inconsistent or unclear branding
- Lack of personalisation to subscribers or segments
- Technical setbacks
Knowing these common setbacks will help you prepare to avoid them, but what can you do to ensure success?
Here are 20 best practices and tips that businesses should keep in mind for newsletter success:
1. Begin with clear objectives
Before starting a newsletter campaign, businesses should define clear goals and objectives that align with their overall marketing strategy. This will help them design newsletters that are relevant to their target audience and created with a precise vision in mind.
2. Understand your audience
Businesses should have a clear understanding of their target audience’s preferences, interests, and behaviours. This will help them create personalised content that resonates with their subscribers. Moreover, understanding an audience can help optimise email scheduling and the type of content that is shared.
3. Keep things simple and clear
Newsletter content should be easy to read and understand, as well as structured clearly. Businesses should use simple language, short paragraphs, and bullet points to make the content more digestible, as well as avoiding an overwhelming use of colour.
4. Consistency is key
Newsletters should be sent on a consistent schedule, whether that’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly. This will help subscribers anticipate and look forward to the next newsletter. Plus, it can help businesses from coming across as spammy.
5. Use eye-catching visuals
Eye-catching visuals such as images, infographics, and videos can help grab the attention of subscribers and make the newsletter more engaging. This is especially important in the current climate, where individuals are receiving about 100 emails per day.
6. Make it mobile-friendly
With the majority of emails now being read on mobile devices, newsletters should be designed to be mobile-friendly. This means using a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes.
7. Personalise your messages
Personalisation can significantly increase engagement and make subscribers feel more connected to businesses. Brands can personalise newsletter content by using the subscriber’s name, location, or past purchase history to inform what’s sent to them.
To learn more about personalisation in e‑commerce, check out our article here.
8. Continually test and optimise
To improve the effectiveness of newsletters, businesses should test different subject lines, designs, and content to see what works best for their audience. They can then optimise their newsletters based on the results and see improved performance as their campaigns evolve over time.
9. Provide value – whatever form it takes
Newsletters should provide value to the subscriber, whether that’s through exclusive promotions, useful content, or industry insights. Even if subscribers aren’t compelled to buy anything in that moment, emails are a valid form of reading, and many people remain subscribed to mailing lists for the interesting content they provide.
10. Optimise your calls-to-actions (CTAs)
Newsletters should include clear and compelling CTAs that encourage subscribers to take action, such as visiting the website, making a purchase, or following the business on social media.
To learn how you can optimise your CTA buttons, read our article here.
11. Make it easy to unsubscribe
Businesses should make it easy for subscribers to unsubscribe from their newsletters rather than making it a frustrating or time-consuming process. This will help maintain a positive relationship with subscribers, even if they decide to unsubscribe.
12. Use segmentation
Segmentation is the process of dividing subscribers into different groups based on their interests or behaviours. By segmenting their audience, businesses can create more targeted and relevant content for each group.
13. Use a recognisable sender name
The sender’s name should be recognisable and consistent across all newsletters. This helps build trust and credibility with subscribers, which is essential if you care about engagement and your ‘sender’s reputation’.
14. Clean your mailing list
Having a ‘clean’ email list means regularly cleaning your mailing list by removing inactive or invalid email addresses. I.e., people that are no longer interacting with your emails and haven’t done so in several weeks or months.
Cleaning your mailing list in this way can boost your sender reputation, as your open and engagement rates will go right up. It might sound counter-intuitive to remove subscribers, but unengaged users will actually bring down your stats and damage your reputation.
15. Follow email marketing laws and regulations
Businesses should be aware of email marketing laws and regulations in their region, such as GDPR or CAN-SPAM, to avoid legal issues and maintain trust with subscribers.
16. Analyse and measure your results
Analysing the results of newsletter campaigns can help businesses understand what’s working and what’s not. They can then adjust their strategy and content accordingly to improve performance. This is absolutely essential if you want your lead generation and nurturing processes to succeed.
17. Encourage social sharing
Including social sharing buttons in emails can help increase the reach and visibility of newsletter content because subscribers are encouraged to share it with their own networks, referring new leads to your site, blog, or social media channels.
18. Keep the email copy concise
The average attention span for a single email is 10–15 seconds. One way businesses can keep subscribers engaged is by keeping email copy short and to the point.
If you want to, you can provide links to longer-form content on your website or blog if you have something you’d really like to share.
19. Use a clear and compelling subject line
The subject line of your emails should always be clear, concise, and descriptive. You want to give subscribers a preview of what’s inside your newsletter and stand out from the competition.
20. Use A/B testing
A/B testing can help businesses test different elements of their newsletter, such as subject lines, calls-to-action, colour schemes, or even the time of day that the emails are sent.
Testing emails is crucial because we never get it right the first time. Plus, businesses gather an increasing amount of data about their subscribers over time, which comes in handy when they want to see what works best with their audience.
Top 5 email newsletter best practices
OK, so maybe listing 20 best practices is a little overwhelming. There’s a lot you can focus on when creating an email newsletter, but here are the top 5 most important things to remember:
1. Define clear goals at the beginning of your strategy, and always come back to them when making changes or analysing performance data.
2. Know your audience, their preferences, and their behaviour. This information should be central to all your newsletter strategy decisions.
3. Keep everything simple and clear – your design, content, frequency, and analysis.
4. Consistency is key.
5. Always test your newsletters so you can continually optimise them.
Should your business send a newsletter?
Is your business ready to create an email newsletter? If not, when is the right time?
While newsletters can be beneficial for many types of businesses, some may be better suited to sending newsletters than others. Generally, businesses that have a loyal customer base, frequent promotions, or new products to announce, and a need to stay top-of-mind with their audience are good contenders for sending out newsletters.
For example, the following businesses are well suited to sending a newsletter:
- E‑commerce businesses can use newsletters to promote their latest products, special offers, helpful tips, and product-related advice.
- Service-based businesses such as lawyers or accountants can use newsletters to share industry news, company updates, service-related tips, and success stories.
- Non-profit organisations can use newsletters to share updates on their mission and impact, share volunteer opportunities, and promote fundraising campaigns.
- B2B companies use newsletters to share thought leadership content, industry news, product or service updates, or to promote events and webinars.
- Content creators such as bloggers, podcasters, and influencers can use newsletters to share their latest content with their subscribers, promote upcoming events or projects, and engage with their audience.
On the other hand, businesses with a small customer base may not need to create a newsletter if they can communicate with their customers through other channels, such as social media or email.
Plus, if a business has infrequent updates, such as a seasonal business or a business that launches new products or services once or twice a year, it may not need to create one as there may not be enough content to warrant a regular newsletter.
Furthermore, businesses with limited resources might find that other marketing activities suit their needs better than an email newsletter.
That being said, any business can benefit from creating a newsletter if they have a clear understanding of their audience and can create relevant, engaging content that provides value to their subscribers.
If you’re thinking about creating an email newsletter for your business but you’re not sure how to get it off the ground, we can help! Our team of experts here at purpleplanet will be glad to support your new marketing venture.
Learn more about our services by clicking the button below.