Building a successful newsletter from the ground up can be a frustrating process.
Fortunately, it's a lot easier when you know what decisions to make every step of the way.
In this post, we'll tell you the 11 newsletter best practices you can follow to:
- Build a loyal audience around your business
- Get more customers
Let's dive in.
11 Email Newsletter Best Practices
Use an Engaging Subject LineUsing the right subject line can help you boost your email open rates.
So, optimizing it should be an important part of your strategy.
Here’s an interesting fact that backs that claim.
According to a study, a whopping 69% of people reported the emails as spam, without even opening them.
Clearly, the only culprit here was the bad subject line.
And guess what? Once one of your emails is reported as spam, none of the future ones will land in the recipient's inbox.
A good way to come up with great subject lines is by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes.
What would you like to receive in your email inbox?
Something interesting and unique, right?
Plus, your subject lines should make your recipients want to know more.
Here’s what you can do to make sure your subject line doesn’t put your email in prospects’ spam folders:
Keep It Short
According to Campaign Monitor, your email subject lines should not exceed 41 characters. Otherwise, they won’t be fully visible to the readers.
Avoid Spammy WordsDid you know using words like “brand new” and “amazing” can land your emails in the spam folder of your email recipients?
So, avoid using spammy words and maximize your email deliverability.
Add EmojisYour subject lines don’t have to be just text.
Using the right emojis can improve your open rates by:
- Helping you make an emotional connection with the recipients
- Communicating more in less space
- Piquing recipients’ curiosity
- And more
Research tells us that subject lines with emojis may generate a higher open rate than subject lines without emojis.
Use Double Opt-In for an Engaged FollowingYou don’t want a long list of uninterested newsletter subscribers who don’t care about what you have to say.
The goal should be to develop a following that is more likely to engage with your emails down the line.
You can do that by putting enough effort into email list building.
Make sure only the right kind of people opt-in to receive your emails.
How do you do that?
By using double opt-in!
A double opt-in just means that you make your subscriber go through an additional step while subscribing to your newsletter.
- First, they enter their email addresses into the signup form
- Then, they click on a link (sent by you) in their email inbox and give their consent to receive emails from you
Important: The CAN-SPAM act requires you to:
- Use double opt-ins
- Include the unsubscribe link at the end of your email newsletters
So, give your email list a chance to unsubscribe whenever they want.
An example from SocialBee:
Set Expectations RightPeople are getting more and more cautious about who they get emails from.
No one wants to see their inbox bombarded with irrelevant emails every morning, right?
As a result, there’s a lot of reluctance when it comes to signing up for a new newsletter.
So, how do you remove that reluctance?
Answer these questions:
- Why did someone visit your newsletter landing page?
- What are their expectations from your newsletter?
Essentially, you want to set their expectations right before the relationship starts.
Don’t promise something you’re not going to deliver.
They should know about the type of content they’ll receive from you.
Plus, set the right email frequency.
According to data collected by campaign Monitor, emails sent after every two weeks perform the best.
Personalize Your EmailsAccording to statistical data, an average person gets more than 100 emails every day.
So, it’s not only about landing your emails in prospects’ inboxes.
It’s also about making your emails stand out and get enough opens.
One powerful way to do that is by adding personalization elements to your emails.
Despite popular belief, “Personalization” is much more than addressing your email subscribers with their first names.
Here are some newsletter best practices that can help you with personalization:
Use SegmentationSegmented emails tend to perform a lot better than non-segmented ones.
Segmentation can help you understand what different segments of your target audience want.
For instance, your new subscribers might not be interested in your offers.
They’re just expecting a “Welcome” or an email filled with valuable content.
Similarly, a segment of your audience may be ready to check out your latest offers.
Not pitching them would be a mistake.
So, for maximum results, divide your audience into different segments and come up with suitable content for each one.
Humanize Your EmailsYour emails don’t have to look “Corporate”.
In fact, putting a face to your company can help improve your newsletter’s performance.
This simply means that the “From” section of your emails shows the image and name of the person sending them.
Personalize Your Subject LinesYou can add a more personalized touch to your subject lines to meet the needs of different segments of your audience.
Here's an example of a personalized abandoned cart email:
Optimize Your Email Newsletter DesignAnother newsletter best practice is to keep your content:
- Easy to digest
You don’t want your content to look inconsistent and difficult to digest.
Here’s how you can optimize your newsletter content for consistency:
Use PreheadersPreheaders appear as a simple extension of your email’s subject line.
Here’s a good example from HP:
Use a Consistent Email DesignYour newsletter represents your brand.
So, its colors, fonts, and design elements should feel like an extension of your brand.
By doing that, you’ll be able to build awareness around your business and make it more memorable.
Create User-Friendly LayoutsNow, the way you position text and images in an email affects its readability.
The layout of your emails should make them easy to consume.
An effective way of doing that is by following the Z-pattern.
Remember, the goal here is to get your recipients to read your entire email.
You can do that by positioning the text and images in a particular pattern (Z).
Here’s an example from Dockers:
Keep Your Style ConsistentIn addition to design, consistency in content style also makes your brand memorable.
Here are a few important rules to help you with style consistency:
Short Sentences and ParasIt’s difficult to read an email with large blocks of text.
Especially considering the ever-dwindling human attention span.
So, write short sentences and paragraphs and try to communicate more in fewer words.
Don’t Use JargonNow, if you have a very niche audience, you can get away with using industry jargon.
Otherwise, you don’t want to use any words that might be too technical for your subscribers.
Avoid HumorUsing humor in email marketing can be a tricky thing, especially when you have an audience with different backgrounds and cultures.
There’s always a chance that it’ll not be well-received by some people.
So, it’s better to stay on the safe side and avoid it altogether.
There’s an exception though: Emojis!
You can use emojis in your email content wherever they make sense.
- Overstuff your email content with emojis
- Use emojis instead of words
Use a Variety of Content FormatsNow, using visuals is one of the most obvious newslettes best practices.
Visuals such as images, videos, and even gifs tend to make your emails more engaging.
But, how many visual elements should you use in an email? Or, more appropriately, what should be the text-visual ratio of your emails?
Ideally, you want to stick to the 80-20 ratio (80% text and 20% images).
Why’s that important?
Because a good chunk of recipients read their emails without images.
Plus, visuals are generally heavier than text, so using too many of them in an email can increase its loading time.
A/B Test Your Email CampaignsIf you’ve read this far, you already know the importance of segmentation.
A/B testing is an ideal way to understand what different segments of your audience are more responsive to.
Here’s how newsletter A/B testing (or test emails) works:
The idea of A/B testing is to test a single variable at a time.
So, what you do is that you send the same email to two different segments of your audience.
Both emails would be identical, except for one variable.
And that variable can be anything, including:
- Subject line
- Length of content
- Style and tone
- And maybe more
Now, before you send emails to your subscriber list, get a clear understanding of what you want to achieve.
For instance, if your goal is to improve open rates, you'd need enough historic data to get a good idea of your progress.
Fortunately, tons of email marketing tools are available to help you track your most important email marketing KPIs.
How often should you do A/B testing?
As often as it makes sense or before starting every email campaign.
Keep Your Emails Mobile-Friendly
This is one of the most overlooked email newsletter best practices.
According to statistics, 85% of users read emails on their mobile devices.
So, keeping your emails mobile-friendly isn't an option anymore; it's a necessity.
This just means making sure your emails appear in their best form on different devices.
Here's how you can keep your email newsletter mobile-friendly:
Use Responsive Newsletter TemplatesPick a newsletter template that adapts to different screen sizes and resolutions.
How do you make sure the template is optimized for mobile devices?
Just preview its mobile version before using it.
Avoid Heavy ImagesImages help you grab the reader's attention and keep them engaged with your emails.
However, heavy images can affect the loading speed of your emails.
So, only add images to your email newsletter that are less than 100 kb in size.
But, you also want to preserve their quality.
How do you maintain that balance?
Use JPED images; they're lightweight and maintain their quality even when reduced in size.
Use Call to Action Wisely
A call-to-action is a mandatory part of every email. Unless, of course, you just want to deliver a piece of information, and don't want the recipient to take any action.
For instance, a welcome email could just have a warm greeting.
But, let's say you want your subscribers to read your blog post. You'd need to use an actionable CTA to guide users to your blog or website.
A CTA Button can be divided into two parts:
And both of these should go with your overall email newsletter design.
Here's how you can optimize CTA buttons:
Tie It To Your GoalYour CTA button should reflect the action you want your customers to take.
For instance, if you want them to visit your website for more information, it should clearly reflect that.
Add White SpaceYour CTA buttons should stand out from the rest of your newsletter content.
And adding white space around it is a perfect way to do that.
Here are a few design tips:
- Color: Use your brand colors
- Shape: Rounded edges
- Frequency: On average, 2 per email
- Characters: Below 14
Here's a good CTA example from Haus:
Short Vs Long Emails: Pick the Right LengthThe length of your emails impacts your:
- Click through rates
- Conversion rates
So, how long should your emails be?
It mainly depends on two factors:
- The type of email
- The action you want the recipients to take
For instance, a short email works great when you want to redirect subscribers to external resources like:
- Blog posts
- Social media accounts
Promotional email newsletters, on the other hand, are generally longer.
Pro tip: Break your email content into smaller, more digestible paragraphs. There's nothing more repulsive than large blocks of texts.
Here's an example of a short-form email from Everlane:
Conclusion: Email Newsletter Best PracticesIf you've read this far, you have everything you need to create professional newsletters that get:
- And, acted upon!
You now have all the ingredients for a successful email marketing campaign.
However, remember that you don't have to implement all of them at once. Start with the ones that make the most sense and never stop testing.