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8 min read Newsletters best practices

Best Practices for Effective Email Newsletters

Key Takeaways

  • 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.

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