Email best practices

How to create an email newsletter

What is an email newsletter? How do you create one? Become an expert in minutes with our guide! See our favorite newsletter examples.

Hermes draws an arrow amongst air balloons

So, you’ve decided to create an email newsletter. Hooray for you! Or maybe someone’s suggested you launch one, and you really have no idea what they’re talking about? Whether you’re an email newbie or you just want to make sure you’re doing things correctly, we’ve got you covered.

Right on cue, here’s the best email newsletter post ever.

What is an email newsletter?

Basically, an email newsletter is a type of email sent out by companies or individuals to a subscriber list. That list should include existing or potential customers that have signed up and given clear consent to receive digital marketing communications from your brand. Email newsletters are sent regularly and contain valuable content, like guides, blog posts, news, product reviews, personal recommendations, tips, announcements, and other resources.

Newsletters are an essential part of the email marketing strategy. They allow businesses to nurture their contacts by establishing themselves as key players in their industry, sharing insights, and highlighting new products that will drive traffic to the website.

Why do you need an email newsletter?

Email newsletters are one of the most popular ways to nurture existing and potential clients. Why? Well, mostly because it’s low-cost and has great ROI. Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels. The average ROI is £35 for every £1 spent with 83% of customers preferring to be approached via email.

Well-designed marketing emails sent regularly, like email newsletters, webinars, event registrations, and product sales guarantee constant website traffic. Newsletters generally form the largest part of all marketing emails sent and hold a great deal of potential.

Wondering whether setting up an email newsletter is the right step for your business? Let’s have a look at the advantages and drawbacks of sending one.

Pros of email newsletters

Creating a newsletter is not just a way to keep your customers informed about your new product or features, but has many other advantages.

Constant source of traffic

One of the main reasons for creating a newsletter is that it generates regular website trafficOrganic engagement on social media platforms like Facebook is declining dramatically. Banner advertising is rarely noticed in the era of ad blockers. Written press releases sent by email will often be ignored by journalists and online editors.

Luckily, this is not true for newsletters. Emails that reach someone’s inbox are usually seen, and the likelihood that they will be opened is high. Provided that the subject line is appealing and the sender is recognized (so make sure your readers know who you are!). If your newsletter is well designed and contains relevant content, this will enhance your chances of the reader clicking on the calls-to-action (CTA) for more information.

Cheaper than other channels

Budget is important to marketers. So anything that saves you money should be a top priority – and newsletters do.

Don’t underestimate how much money email marketing saves you compared to using other marketing tools. Paid advertisements like banner advertising, Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, and influencer marketing are considerably more expensive than email marketing.

Advanced and easy performance tracking

Measuring the performance of an email newsletter is simple. Your email statistics provide you with all the information you need to do this: open rates, click rates, unsubscribe rates, bounces, device used to open the newsletter and when, which links are clicked on, etc. These metrics, along with UTM tags to track engagement through Google Analytics, will help you accurately calculate your ROI and produce target-audience-relevant newsletter content.

Email newsletter stats

Independence from third parties

When you create a newsletter, you are independent of other service providers and software. Publishers, influencers, social media platforms, and Google are much more likely to increase ad costs than an email service provider is.

Easily linked to other online marketing channels

Newsletters and other marketing tools like social media can be easily and effectively combined. And they can reach recipients anywhere, regardless of whether they are in the office on their work computer, on the sofa at home on a tablet, or on the go on their smartphone. Emails can be opened and read anywhere.

Cons of email newsletters

Where there’s yin, there is yang. Or in other words, where there is light, there is also darkness. While email newsletters provide many benefits, there are also a couple of cons to consider.

Absence of physical experience

Unlike analog advertising media like brochures, flyers, magazines, etc., there is no haptic experience with email newsletters. For instance, a desk calendar is visible all year round. Emails, on the other hand, are intangible.

Emails, therefore, have a shorter lifespan but are also less annoying to sort and organize.

Ease of deletion

Let’s be honest: emails tend to be deleted quicker and are more likely to be skimmed through than other media. There are many reasons for this: a full inbox, unappealing subject lines, irrelevant content, etc.

Although we can optimize our messages to prevent this, a 100% interaction rate can never be guaranteed. This is true not only for newsletters, but for all marketing tools.

However, if we weigh up the benefits and drawbacks of newsletters, it quickly becomes clear that the pros by far outweigh the cons.

Pros and cons of email newsletters

Pros

Cons

Constant source of traffic

Absence of physical experience

Considerable savings

Ease of deletion

Easy performance tracking

Independence from third parties

Easily linked to other marketing channels

Don’t take our word for it, though. Create an account and try it yourself! We’re sure you’ll also become a newsletter supporter in no time.

Mailjet

Create and send your email newsletters with Mailjet

Easily create and send amazing emails and reach the inbox with Mailjet. Design your campaigns using our drag-and-drop email editor and optimize your email marketing strategy.

How to create an effective email newsletter

OK, so we have convinced you to give newsletters a go. Hooray! To help you make the most of your new favorite marketing channel, we’ve detailed below all you need to know to plan an effective newsletter strategy. Your contacts will wish all their emails were like yours.

Here are the steps you should follow to create an email newsletter for your business:

  1. Set your goals and objectives

  2. Find the right platform for your newsletter

  3. Build your newsletter subscriber list

  4. Segment your contacts for better targeting

  5. Design beautiful email templates for your newsletter

  6. Define your newsletter content

Let’s run through the nuts and bolts of good email marketing:

Set your goals and objectives

First things first. Before you even start designing your email newsletter template, you’ll need to think about why you want to implement one. Consider the following elements to ensure you’re crafting the right messages:

Identify a target audience

Defining your audience is essential to the success of your campaign. You need to understand your potential readers’ needs and wants to provide value and send newsletters that appeal to your audience.

So think about who you want to reach with your emails and try to be as specific as possible. Consider things like demographics, location, and interests. If you’re aiming at reaching a global audience, it can be hard to get precise in your definition, but segmenting your audience can help send more relevant emails.

Determine basic objectives

What do you want to achieve with your email newsletter campaign? Some companies launch newsletters to drive traffic to their website, others want to increase sales on their online shop or to invite people to upcoming events.

Setting goals gives your newsletter campaign a purpose and helps you measure the performance of your efforts. These specific objectives depend on your individual company’s goals, vision, and values.

Once you have defined your objectives, you need to determine the KPIs you want to track. If you’re not sure where to start, you might want to consider some of the most typical metrics measured for newsletters: 

  • Newsletter subscriptions

  • Open rates

  • Click rates

  • Spam and block rates

  • Newsletter unsubscribe rates

Discover your focus topics 

Planning the topic of your newsletter is closely connected to the objectives you have defined, but coming up with content can be hard at first.

To find inspiration, analyze your competitors’ newsletters and newsletters from companies you think are successful at email marketing. This is likely to give you inspiration about new potential topics, products, events, etc. You could also carry out a survey in advance and ask your contacts to share their thoughts as you grow your newsletter list.

Here are some examples of newsletter content you could include:

  • Product launches and industry news

  • New or popular blog posts

  • Upcoming events and webinars

  • Case studies and customer stories

  • New stories around your company culture and job openings

  • FAQs and other resources for customer support

Example of an agency newsletter calendar.

Find the right platform for your newsletter

Before you start creating newsletters, you need to find a newsletter solution that allows you to create, send and analyze email campaigns.

The problem is that there are many professional newsletter solutions on the market, which can be both a curse and a blessing for senders. On the one hand, you have a wide variety of suitable email providers to choose from. On the other hand, vetting them may feel a bit overwhelming.

So, what should you look for in an email service provider? 

Email platform functionalities you need for a successful newsletter

Finding the best emailing platform for your business will depend on the needs of your company. But here are a few features that can help you make the most of your email program:

Mailjet’s newsletter drag and drop tool

Build your newsletter subscriber list

In order to be able to create and send a newsletter, you obviously need recipients (duh!). Setting up an email contact list with high interaction rates is relatively simple if you take certain factors into consideration.

Add subscription widgets to your site

To gain new newsletter subscribers, the first thing you’ll need is a responsive subscription widget with a double opt-in process. Add the subscription sign-up form to all the relevant pages of your website. Some of the most effective places to include your widget in are: the homepage, the blog, the footer, and pages with gated content, such as guides, white papers, and others.

Mailjet allows you to create responsive subscription widgets.

Double opt-in ensures that no fake email address creeps into your database and damages your reputation and deliverability. If you’re not doing this, you risk being classified as a spammer both by recipients and the ISPs themselves.

Don’t buy email lists

Giving in to the temptation of buying email addresses will result in the same scenario. Purchasing email contacts from third parties is still very popular because many companies still believe that an email contact list must be as large as possible to be successful. This is by no means true; trust us. Buying contact lists is essentially a waste of money.

People included in such lists usually don’t want to hear from you at all, so this usually results in spam complaints and unsubscribes. These lists also tend to include spam traps, which can severely hurt your deliverability.

Create newsletter landing pages

Besides implementing a responsive subscription widget, special newsletter landing pages are a great way to grow contact lists. These pages enable you to use all optimization opportunities that apply to landing pages.

The potential newsletter subscriber is not distracted from other elements on the website. So, they concentrate on all the great reasons your newsletter is the best thing that has been written since Harry Potter.

New York Times email subscriptions.

Explore other channels

There are other ways of growing your email lists, such as promoting it on your social media platforms, incentivizing existing subscribers to share, or encouraging people to join at events or your physical store.

Consider what benefits prospective recipients may have if they subscribe to your newsletter. Ideally, you have already clarified these reasons in your strategy. Real added value, for example, is provided by things like: 

  • Special offers and coupons

  • Advanced information and booking facilities

  • Invitations to exclusive events

  • Regular industry information

  • Access to exclusive content like e-books

  • Email mini-courses

Get consent from your contacts

But remember, regardless of how you’re getting your subscribers, you should always ask for consent before adding anyone to your email database. Remember what data protection and spam laws (like GDPR) say about consent, and ensure you’re complying with the applicable regulations.

Consent form example from EA. 

Learn more: For more information and tips on how to build and grow an email list, you can check this complete step-by-step tutorial.

Segment your contacts for better targeting

Instead of sending the same message to all of your customers, leverage segmentation to make the most of your emails. Think about how you can use the information you have about your customers to create segments and send tailored email campaigns that really speak to a specific group within your database.

Build your segments for your email newsletter

To determine the kind of data to use to segment your list, think about what would make sense for your business. Consider if there are some obvious ways to group your customers based on different characteristics.

Examples of data segmentation you can use for your newsletter subscriber list

Demographic data

Psychographic data

Behavioral data

Gender

Product preferences

Past purchases

Location

Interests

Average spending

Age

Lifestyle

Purchase frequency

If you want to get even more specific about your segments, you can combine different types of data and create even more precise groups. For example, you could focus on only women that prefer shopping for shoes and that have made at least five purchases over the past six months.

Once you have different groups of customers with similar characteristics, interests, or habits, it will be easier to understand each segment and craft messages that resonate well with each one.

Craft your newsletter message

Now that you have your segments, it’s time to put them to use. As you start planning your campaign, consider how you can create a message based on these segments. Essentially, you want your campaign to match the segment you’re sending it to, so always keep your audience in mind.

Ideas to craft your newsletter message according to different segments

Demographic Segments

Psychographic Segments

Behavioral Segments

Send information about gender-specific products

Highlight a certain product category to each segment

Send product recommendations or special sales similar to previous purchases

Share special events or deals in the city or area of each segment

Focus on products that go with each interest group

Offer a discount to customers that spend over a certain amount

Share different products or offers specific to each age group

Offer products that match a certain lifestyle

Encourage customers that haven’t made a purchase in a longer period of time to come back with a special offer

By matching up the segment with a fitting message, your campaigns will be much more targeted. Taking into account the different characteristics, preferences, and needs of your customers. 

Design beautiful email templates for your newsletter

The first step to creating a newsletter is setting up an email template. You can use a newsletter template provided by your email service provider (ours are pretty cool!) and adapt it as necessary to match your brand image and your needs.

Alternatively, you can upload an HTML newsletter template you have already created or that you have bought from a third party. In this case, make sure that the selected layout is responsive so that your email campaigns will be perfectly displayed on every end device.

Ready to dive in? There are five main things to consider when designing an email:

Think about content before building your templates

The first thing to consider when putting a newsletter template together is content. Is it relevant to your audience? Is it engaging enough? Does it follow your brand guidelines? Keep your content brief and to the point, as you only have the reader’s attention for a small amount of time.

How: Use images on top of your email to capture the reader’s attention, followed by brief text and a clear call to action.

Here’s an example of great content in practice by ‘Firezza,’ a pizza delivery company.

Keep your email newsletter simple

Give your newsletters a consistent design and don’t cram your email with too much information. Provide plenty of white space and keep your newsletter simple and neat. If you work with different types of newsletters, you will need to use different newsletter designs. But remember to provide consistency with the same use of colors, font and hierarchy. This ensures clarity and professionalism.

clear structure ensures that subscribers grasp the content and core message(s) immediately. Insert your company logo in the upper section so that the readers immediately associate the newsletter with you. Add images in order to attract the readers’ attention, followed by a brief text and a clear call-to-action.

How: To have your email render on various devices, be mindful of your email size. The ideal width is between 500 – 680 px. Our article: Email Design: Trends and Best Practices, offers a comprehensive guide on email design best practices. 

Think about colors

Make sure that you’re keeping true to your brand identity and think about your audience. Using specific colors based on your demographic, you can improve your results and ultimately ROI.

How: The more you know your customers, the better you can tailor your emails. To gather information from your existing customers, try running surveys as part of a raffle or competition. You’ll find most users are willing to spend two minutes to tell you about themselves for a chance to win something they want.

Use images wisely

Images and other visual elements optically enhance the newsletter. But beware! Too many graphical elements can negatively impact your deliverability, as this is a favored tactic of spammers. ISPs know this well and often block emails containing large images. So always aim for a healthy 60:40 balance between text and graphics.

Remember to add alt tags to the images and scale them down to the size you want. Bear in mind that some email clients block images so that subscribers just see a large white area. By adding Alt tags, they’ll at least get an idea of what they should be looking at.

Don’t be pushy

If you want your users to take action through your emails, don’t be too pushy with your call-to-action buttons. Imagine your call-to-action is a sales assistant in a shop. Are you likely to trust an assistant that’s pushing you to try on shoes or buy a specific blouse? Or do you trust the assistant who’s knowledgeable, subtle, yet suggestive? The same applies here.

How: Think about the placement of your CTAs and always have your main CTA above the fold (the page you can see without scrolling). Also, make sure it has relevant text. For example, you may find emails sent to a certain demographic may prefer ‘Purchase Now’ to ‘Buy Now’. Research, test and compare your campaigns to improve your call-to-actions.

Ensure your newsletter is responsive

In an increasingly mobile world, your content and entire funnel must be optimized for mobile devices in order to get the most out of your mobile audience. Studies have found that at least 41% of emails are opened on mobile first. In other words, if you haven’t already optimized your newsletters to mobile devices, now is a good time to do it.

Responsive email with Mailjet’s newsletter solution.

To get you started, we have gathered a few of the most important steps to take while optimizing your campaign for a mobile audience:

  • Stick to one-column templates so your emails don’t get too wide for mobile devices. Divide your text into smaller sections and make it easy for readers to get an overview of the contents of the email.

  • Make sure your CTAS and links are easily clickable and placed intuitively in the email to increase the chance of users following them. Also, ensure your landing pages are responsive to get the most out of clicks-through.

  • Avoid using images that are too large, as they can slow down the loading time of the email for users that are making use of their mobile data to fetch your newsletter.

  • Always test your newsletter on several devices and email clients. You’ll quickly see how your layout elements are displayed on the different screens and clients like Gmail and Outlook, and how clear your call-to-action is shown in the email body.

Define your newsletter content

An essential part of email design is the content featured in the newsletter. Yes, this might sound obvious, but it’s still forgotten by many that think a flashy design is enough to wow their contacts.

Tailor your newsletter message

Whether you got inspiration from other newsletters or by conducting a survey, carefully map out the messages you want to share and consider how you’ll communicate these to your audience. Define your email voice and the stories you want to tell, paying special attention to your copy.

Need some content ideas for your newsletter? Here are a few:

  • Promoting the latest blog articles.

  • New freebies like guides, white papers, studies, etc.

  • Invitations to seminars, webinars, and other events.

  • Special marketing campaigns like advent calendars, yearly calendars, etc.

Remember that the content you share in your emails should be directly linked to your goals and objectives. Newsletters are one of the few types of email that can draw attention to multiple pieces of content. But try not to promote too much at the same time, as the majority of recipients click on the first call-to-action. Place the most important information first and organize the rest following a clear hierarchy.

Get your subject line right

We’ve talked a lot about how, just as the saying goes, first impressions really do count when it comes to the subject line. Think about this: if your email is the vault and the content inside is the treasure, your subject line is the key.

Remember that the tone and language should match the style of your brand. Be bold and try out something new. Being cheeky, using questions, citing the recipient’s name, or even adding emojis, all jazz up the subject line and draw attention to your newsletter. As you are probably very reluctant to be labeled as a spammer, avoid using words that can trigger the spam alarm.

Also, don’t forget about your “From Name” and pre-header. For the “From Name”, don’t just use your company or department name, but make sure it’s easily recognizable.

The pre-header summarizes the email content and motivates the recipient to pay attention to your newsletter. So make sure it works together with your subject line to incite the readers and encourage them to open your email.

How: Know your audience, personalize, and A/B test to find the best subject lines for your users.

Don’t forget the legal bits

If you conduct email marketing activities, you must adhere to certain legal guidelines. This means that your newsletter must contain an unsubscribe link.

Mailjet’s unsubscribe link

How to optimize your email newsletter over time

With your content ready to go, it’s time to start sending your newsletters. As we mentioned before, the easiest way to go is by using an email service that lets you integrate your contact list, create your newsletter layout, and send your emails in one platform – like Mailjet.

Understanding email metrics

Make sure to choose a service that offers tools for tracking and analyzing the newsletters you send. It’s important to see how your audience responds to the emails you’re sending them. Most newsletter services offer tracking of delivery, opens, clicks, and unsubscribes, which are essential in measuring your efforts.

Here are the main metrics explained:

  • Open rate: The percentage of subscribers who have opened the newsletter.

  • Click rate: The percentage of recipients who have clicked on at least one link or call-to-action.

  • Conversions and/or revenue per click: The percentage of readers who executed the desired action after clicking on the target page (purchase, download, read blog article, etc.).

  • Unsubscribe rate: The percentage of users that canceled their newsletter subscription.

Once you’ve sent your first few newsletters, the opens and clicks should give you an initial idea about how your audience is reacting to your emails. This data is a great source for deciding how to optimize your future newsletters since it tells you which elements of your newsletter can be tweaked.

Make sure you know how to read email stats properly and how to identify what needs to be improved. If your open rate is low, perhaps your subject line isn’t clear enough. If only a few people click on the links in your newsletter, try to make your call-to-action (CTA) stand out more. If a lot of users are unsubscribing, take another look at your contact list or try grouping your contact list into more specific segments to get a more narrowing targeting.

Use this data to determine the exact performance of your newsletter and make any adjustments to individual elements. We recommend always implementing these adjustments using A/B testing.

Tracking results and optimizing your newsletters should be an ongoing process that you keep doing to continually improve your results. Even when you reach positive results, try aiming even higher and find things that can improve even further. For example, try experimenting with different fonts, colors, or the number of images.

Finding the best time to send your newsletter

The time at which your newsletter is sent is a crucial factor for success. If you are new to email marketing, try different times. Testing and comparing the results of newsletters sent at different times is the best way to know what works for your business.

In most cases, there are some basic rules about the best time to send emails that you can follow for best results. If you work in the B2B sector, you should send your newsletter during regular working hours. Peak times are usually between 10 and 11 AM and between 3 and 4 PM. If your business model is B2C, then you should send during the week between 6 and 9 PM and on weekends.

Of course, there are many different tools that can be helpful. Use a web analysis software like Google Analytics and analyze the exact time when customers visit your website. Send your newsletter at the same time or shortly before peak activity, as potential recipients are engaged with your topic and/or they are on their computer at that time.

Google Analytics shows the best time to send your newsletter.

You can also test to find the best schedule for your company’s newsletter. Weekly and monthly newsletters are the most popular, but that doesn’t mean you need to default to this email frequency. Find what works best for your business. For example, the recruitment or the real estate sector might go for daily emails to promote their new listings. Keep a close eye on your engagement metrics to understand what works best for your subscribers.

Want to know more about how to optimize your email newsletter over time? Check out our Email Growth Playbook, a database of 60+ tactics to help you increase the performance of your email campaigns.

Pathwire

Email Growth Playbook

Explore tactics to increase your email ROI

Email newsletter examples to inspire you

Want to see some of these tips in action? We’ve got a whole blog post with newsletter examples for you to check out, but we’ve also selected four of our favorites for you to get inspiration and learn the basics.

Check them out below!

Product Hunt

What’s great about Product Hunt is how they use their brand identity to their benefit, using their signature red to make their CTA stand out on the white background.

Product Hunt features one key element, which is placed first and adds in-depth value for those avid readers that are always keen to scroll down. Their text-image ratio is also on-point, using their visual elements perfectly aligns with the brand identity.

Check out the full-size Product Hunt newsletter.

Netflix

Ah, yeah, have we mentioned we love Netflix already? Netflix uses personalized content to make sure their readers keep coming back to their newsletter and find true value in it.

Also, check out their clever use of CTAs! Not everyone will be ready to indulge when Netflix’s email arrives. But by adding a combination of ‘Play’ and ‘My list’, they maximize their click rates and potential conversion.

Netflix is one of our all-time favorites. 

Skyscanner

When someone signs up to the Skyscanner newsletter, they generally know what they’re looking for. Wanderlust-provoking articles with travel tips and suggestions that will help us daydream about being somewhere that’s not the office… And, oh man, do they deliver.

There’s no question about the value that Skyscanner’s content offers, which makes their newsletter a great way to nurture contacts until they are ready to convert. And when they are, they’ll find personalized deals to inspire them and encourage them to click-through.

Fitbit

At Fitbit, they have a clear goal in mind with their newsletter: to drive traffic to their blog. The content is meant to inspire readers to become more active and make the most of their device. So they highlight their content value at the top (‘Top articles picked for you’) and smartly present their articles with a responsive design that is easy to read (and click!) on mobile.

Check out the full-size Fitbit newsletter

Send awesome email newsletters with Mailjet

Ah, yeah. This is where we try to convince you about how much you need Mailjet… Well, you do!

As we’ve said before, sending newsletters requires the right email partner that’ll make it easy to create, send and track your email performance, and that’s what we’re great (like, really great) at.

With Mailjet, you’ll be able to build and manage your email lists using our subscription widget Contact List Management features. Plus, you’ll get to carefully segment your database to send content that your readers really want to read.

If you haven’t already, try our drag-and-drop Email Editor which will help you leverage our amazing template library. Alternatively, create your designs from scratch on the interface to create stunning responsive emails that look good on all devices.

Once your email is sent out through our interface, via SMTP or with our flexible APIs, you’ll be able to effectively track and optimize performance. Use our detailed metrics, testing, and comparison tools to help you take your email to the next level.

Want to learn all that Mailjet has to offer? Check out all our features here!

Mailjet

Create and send your email newsletters with Mailjet

Easily create and send amazing emails and reach the inbox with Mailjet. Design your campaigns using our drag-and-drop email editor and optimize your email marketing strategy.

Want to receive more best tips and tricks to optimize your email marketing strategy? Sign up to the Mailjet newsletter!

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