5 Tips for Designing a Better Newsletter
Shaifali Gupta, Director of Graphic Design, Real Magnet
Many modern marketing thought leaders argue that newsletters are a dying art. Here at Real Magnet, however, we cater to many associations and publishers who still heavily rely on newsletters as their primary form of communication with their members and subscribers.
A newsletter is a great way to convey several pieces of content or information at once. Still, the fact that content is becoming shorter and more visual is undeniable. Finding ways to present multiple pieces of information in one email, and keep your readers engaged throughout, is a real challenge.
After over a decade of designing newsletters for all kinds of organizations and purposes, I’ve picked up a trick or two for putting together effective, engaging, and eye-catching email newsletters.
Here are my 5 Tips for Designing a Better Newsletter.
Implement Mobile Friendly Email Design
All the hard work of building your newsletter will go to waste if it’s not compatible on mobile devices. With more than 50% of email opens now occurring on mobile devices, mobile-friendly layouts are a necessity. 45% of consumers state that they have unsubscribed from emails that didn’t work well on their smartphones or tablets, so not only will you miss out on opens and clicks, you may lose potential prospects from your email list just by ignoring the need for mobile-friendly design.
Responsive design and mobile-first design are two popular options for creating email messages that look great on mobile devices. With Responsive design, your message layout will adapt based on the width of the user’s screen. Mobile-friendly design implements simple layouts that naturally look great across all devices. If you’re unsure how to implement these techniques, your Real Magnet account includes a library of free responsive templates that can be used as a basis for your message, and our graphics team is always available to help.
Balance Text and Images
Now this is a tricky one. We know there’s always a ton of content to squeeze into a newsletter, and you want to provide as much bang for the buck as possible to keep your recipients engaged and happy. However, adult attention spans have dwindled to an average of 8 seconds; content at the bottom of a lengthy newsletter is likely to be ignored.
Nobody has time to read through an array of articles to find the most compelling piece of content. Similarly, relying heavily on images to convey your message is not going to work either. It’s all about finding the right balance — short, concise, easy to scan articles with a visual to support them. Human eyes like contrast, supplementing your content with visuals helps the eyes naturally move down your newsletter while keeping the reader focused and interested.
Try using contrasting colors to help organize your content.
Provide a clear Call-to-Action
You need to ask yourself what action you want your recipients to take when they open your newsletter. Do you want them to click on a link to your website? Do you want them to read more of a particular piece of content? Maybe register for an event? Not every piece of content can be a priority.
Once you’ve decided what your #1 goal is, you can clearly design your newsletter around this action. Creating HTML-based Call-to-Action buttons makes it easy for your recipients to take your desired action. Make sure to use active language to really entice them to click — get creative! Studies suggest that using a first-person voice (example: I’d like to learn more) can have a positive impact on accomplishing your goal.
Avoid Being Repetitive
If every email newsletter you send has some static-elements, then you’re training your recipients to ignore them over time. For example, navigation bars are a must for websites so users can browse through different links to get to the information they need. However, in newsletters, the main focus is the content, if you want to lead traffic back to your site from the newsletter, use Call-to-Actions and compelling images within your content to persuade your readers to read and click through to your site. Clearing out redundant items in your emails will give you more space to promote the actual content you want your readers to focus on.
The same holds true for subject lines, if every email newsletter you send has a similar subject line, it’s going to be very hard for your recipients to get excited and keep opening them. Inboxes are crowded and busy places, you have to stand out! Unless you have a Taylor Swift-like following, you’re not going to get your recipients’ attention by sending them emails with the same subject lines over and over again.
Keep your subject lines fresh each time you send to compel your subscribers to open and engage with each new newsletter. Add helpful information that will entice them to open, and keep in mind that empty promises or misleading subject lines will ultimately backfire.
Personalize Your Approach
Everyone wants to feel special, even your email recipients. People are too busy to read content that is not tailored specifically to their interests and needs. These days, internet-savvy readers curate their social feeds to provide exactly the type of content that they’re interested in, and they expect the same experience from their email. It’s no surprise that recipients eventually unsubscribe from content they deem irrelevant to them.
Luckily, email marketers have several tools that help design and deliver relevant, personalized content. Start with the information your recipients see first — the From Address and subject line. Using personalization in these places has shown to increase open rates.
Segmentation techniques can help hone in on recipients who share characteristics, buying patterns, demographics or interests. Target these segments with specific content that is relevant to them. Dynamic Content functionality can also be used to serve up specific content in a section of your newsletter that correlates to a specific segment of your database. Instead of creating multiple messages for your various segments, create one and swap out one section to make it relevant for each audience segment. Finally, Marketing Automation is a great tool for delivering more timely, personalized and relevant content that helps increase audience engagement.
The ultimate goal of a newsletter is to keep your audience informed about the latest news and thought leadership developed by your organization. In today’s content marketing landscape, getting and keeping your audience’s attention is a complex challenge. But, by implementing clean, simple layouts and guiding your readers through your newsletter with a balance of text and images, you’ll build eye catching newsletters that will help keep your readers engaged and coming back for more.