What Makes a Good Newsletter: Effective Practices & Great Examples
Email is a flexible tool which applications are not limited to standard promos only. There exist several types of email campaigns, and a good marketer needs to know how to take advantage of every type:
Somehow, it turns out that the last category is paid the least attention. Companies spend time and effort to craft engaging welcome series and creative product recommendations, but their drive seems to go down when it comes to a newsletter design. I want to fix this misconception and am ready to prove that a well-though newsletter campaign can be as good revenue booster.
Let’s start with the basics. What is a newsletter?
Email newsletters -
are emails that companies send to their subscribers to inform on their latest news, activities, products, or service updates.
The main characteristics that differs a newsletter from a promo is that it doesn't aim to generate instant sales. Its main purpose is to educate people about your brand, warm them up and improve the quality of the contact base. It helps make sales less aggressive: the subscribers take a break from commercial offers, but don't forget about the existence of the company. Although newsletter examples usually don’t contain evident CTA buttons such as Order Now or Add to Cart, they also generate prospects who can later evolve into customers.
What makes the email recipient purchase a product or use the company service? An exclusive offer or the best price. However, the exclusiveness of your offer may not last long, as your competitors also monitor the market, and can add new products or drop the price at any time. To make people buy from you, you need to win their trust, and this is where good old email newsletters step in. Show customers you know their preferences and provide useful content they would be interested in.
What to Write About in Newsletters
Good email newsletter campaigns must be informative and up to date. There are many reasons to get in touch with your readers:
- Weekly or monthly digest.
Such a newsletter can be a mix of all the activities you've been recently running. Team them up with corporate or industry news, charity activities, partners' news, mentions of your brand on third-party platforms. The main purpose of the digest is to provide a short summary and keep people aware of what you've been up to recently.
- Updates on blog posts.
Blog newsletters are one of the main email types for B2B companies. However, B2C ecommerces that have a blog can also send them out. If you have a YouTube channel or release regular podcasts, add them to your email newsletter as well.
- New content drops.
When you add content to your site library (templates, photos, audio and video releases), let people know it with a quick email message. This strategy is most applicable for photo stocks, template editors and video service providers.
People like stories and are more likely to buy from brands that have some behind. The best way to send newsletters telling about your roots and corporate culture is by adding them to your welcome series.
Many brands send just one welcome email but I would recommend creating a series of say 2 or 3 drip campaigns. Make the first email a regular welcome, thanking for signing up. Next, send one or two newsletters telling about how you started up, what values you want to share with the world and what traditions fuel your activity.
- Personalized how-to recommendations and instructions.
If you sell a complex product that requires registration, installation or any kind of settings to be used, send newsletters with guidelines that explain the process. Too complicated steps can scare people off, so a clear instruction will show there is nothing difficult about your product and it's rather user-friendly. Consider adding to such emails animation as it is better to see once than hear a hundred times. Moreover, GIFs can save space and avoid lengthy descriptions.
- Corporate events.
Planning to hold a conference or webinar and think your subscribers can be interested? Send them a small announcement, including all the necessary information: the event program, topics and speakers, time and location, etc.
Similarly, send a post-event newsletter with the event summary and main takeaways. Include photos of participants, their performance and general stage moments. If applicable, add links to recordings or the blog post with Q&A. You can also combine such a report with a feedback request.
Segment your audience into two groups, prepare two copies (with and without fedback form) and send one newsletters to no-attendees and another with the feedback request to those who joined the efent, offline or online. Ask what people liked and didn't like, whether the topics were interesting and if they would attend more of such events.
- Contests and challenges.
It's true that contests are often run on social media. But not all your email subscribers may follow your Instagram or Facebook. A friendly announcement may be a good encouragement to act.
- New products or services.
A newsletter is exactly what you need to let everyone know about new arrivals. You don't necessarily have to write long descriptions enumerating all product components or materials. Instead, opt for more dynamic and appealing techniques like user-generated content, gamification or sets of personalized product recommendations.
- Congratulations on holidays.
International or local, a holiday is always a good reason to reach out. A gift guide, preparation tips or party survival hacks can make good content for your holiday newsletter campaigns.
The above email newsletter examples aren’t an ultimate guide; they are here to demonstrate that there is always a reason to connect with your customers. Sales offers and product recommendations aren’t the only reasons to knock on the inbox door. A company’s birthday, new social projects, corporate photoshoots, recent research and surveys, updates on company services - don’t be afraid to share what’s going on in the company’s life.
What Businesses Should Send Out Newsletters
B2B or B2C, basically any company can use email newsletters, adapting the content to their product features.
However, there are industries that can benefit from newsletter campaigns more than others.
- News and entertainment platforms. Their job is to keep you aware of what’s new around the globe, and emailing a relevant newsletter is the best way to do it.
- Educational enterprises. Be it an online language school or a yoga instructor training course, such businesses thrive on paid events, such as courses, seminars, webinars, and workshops, and a newsletter is a good way to inform when you hold one.
- Consulting companies. Although their business presupposes selling information, they often share pieces of useful content for free. Why? First, with so much information on the Internet, subscribers will find what they need one way or another, so it’s better if they find it in your mailings. Second, when they need a professional service in the related industry, you’ll be the first they’ll come to.
- Health and beauty. Newsletters work well to promote new drugs or beauty products: a campaign with comprehensive info on new-to-market sedatives or dermal fillers can be sent to corresponding specialists, clinics, beauty salons or medical magazines.
All these newsletter examples help build the brand's reputation and lay the foundation for further fruitful relationships. A commercial offer from the company the subscribers have already gotten familiar with has more chances to turn into a complete purchase. Even if people have never bought your products before, a series of well-designed email newsletters may create an illusion they’ve been using your service for a while.
- Online and offline retailers. Although newsletters’ main function is to introduce new information rather than actively generate sells, many companies manage to combine both functions.
The Rise and Shine campaign by reBloom is a good example of how to do it smoothly: they first provided a bit of useful info on how to get better sleep, then insert a CTA offering to put the newly acquired information into practice, and then invited to read one more related topic.
The newsletter example by Stylist Live is a real trove of valuable info: it includes the insight into the beauty and fashion news, informs on the upcoming festival, introduces speakers, gives a promo code and offers to buy a ticket. Not bad for one email, isn’t it?
How to Design a Good Newsletter
In the eSputnik’s email editor, you can create an HTML newsletter, save it and use for all next campaigns: you’ll only have to fill it with relevant content. Go to Gallery and pick the template that fits your current needs. For example, it can be either of these two templates:
In one click, you can also see how a newsletter would look like on a desktop or a mobile device:
This is a rather important feature; according to Blue Hornet, 70% of recipients immediately delete emails that are incorrectly displayed on a smartphone. So before sending, run a test and make sure your campaigns look as intended on any device.
Whatever design you’d opt for, your newsletter will most probably contain the following elements:
Sender. A sender name is the first thing people see when they receive an email, and it determines whether it will be open to a great extent. Newsletters can be sent on behalf of the company or a company’s employee, for example, a customer service manager (using a corporate domain, of course). The latter option makes emails more personal and lets your recipients see there are real people behind your campaigns.
Subject line. You have just a few words to convince the recipient your email is worth reading, and so they should be organized with extra accuracy.
- You probably have a story to tell, but don’t spill it out straight in the subject line. This part should be short and laconic.
- The first 3 words should be the most eye-catching and informative, as they are the main area of focus.
- Avoid misleading promises and fake offers. The subject line should correspond to the content of the newsletter and summarize its main idea.
- Use simple and understandable language even if you write about extra complicated things. People scan their inboxes in seconds, so avoid complex sophisticated words that need additional definition.
Header. It has to contain your logo and corporate colors and fonts to promote brand recognition. The image should be associated with what the reader will find inside. Try not to overlay it with too much wording, as cluttered images look messy and not appealing. A content list put at the top helps navigate through the email and improves the overall reading experience.
Body. Think over an easy-to-read structure: organize text in short paragraphs and provide them with visual and audio support. Since a newsletter is more about information than entertainment, it most likely contains much text, which yet doesn’t mean it should be boring and monotonous: images, photos, GIFs, rollover effects, video - try every format and see what suits your style most. Even a simple emoji put at the right place can spruce up a seemingly plain text.
Images. Any email looks better with a couple of quality images inside. Moreover, nowadays visuals have the biggest impact on readers as they are easier to digest than text. So what pictures you can embed into your email:
- Product photos;
- Background image;
- Drawing, doodles and other artististic illustrations;
- Infographics and charts;
- User-generated content.
You can edit them as needed straight in the email builder without Photoshop or HTML code fixing. Just click the necessary image, open the editor and do what you need. Using the editor, you can also create a banner: just add text over the necessary image or use it as a background for the corresponding structure or container.;
When working with images, pay attention to the following:
- File weight;
- Image size:
- Alt texts;
- Mobile responsiveness.
Also watch over the image to text ratio. Too many images with too little text are one of spam triggers. Filters of email clients can determine your email as spam and send it to the corresponding folder. To avoid problems with deliverability, stick to the 60/40 ratio: give 60% of space to text, and 40% to images.
Footer. Apart from contact info and social links, you can equip the footer with more options: let people print the copy, update preferences, or invite them to forward the newsletter to friends. If the material is interesting, why not share it? If you send an email newsletter on behalf of a company representative, consider adding their photo to make a campaign more human-like.
Now, when you’ve crafted an interesting and engaging newsletter, you definitely want as many of your recipients to read it. If your newsletter subscribers have also allowed to send them web push notifications, you can send a quick short push to notify on the newsletter delivery. App users may receive additional mobile push notifications that will invite them to check the inbox.
What’s more, if you use Advanced Segmentation in the eSputnik system, you can see in your segment what contacts have both email addresses and web push tokens. This allows building more targeted campaigns and reaching customers on different levels.
We’ve named the article Newsletter Effective Practices for a good reason. The Best Newsletter Examples would have sounded more catchy, but you know that there’s no such thing as the best, ultimate or the only possible. What works for one business, may be a total failure for another. As with any other emails, you need to craft newsletters based on your audience’s needs and preferences: short or long, plain or dynamic, bright or unicolor, fancy or simple - try different options and analyze what works better for your readers.