Anatomy of an Effective Email Newsletter

By Guest Blogger

05/08/19

We all have our favorite email newsletters—emails we actually look forward to receiving, read top to bottom and value as a source of useful information, education or entertainment.

A well-executed newsletter can be an effective tool for building brands, strengthening relationships and creating engagement that leads to growth of a company or organization. But you’ve likely received plenty of bad emails as well—those that don’t have a clear origin, don’t provide any value, are confusing, or just plain irritating.  

At Touchpoint, we send about 30 email newsletters a month for partners with lists ranging from a few thousand to more than half a million. Making sure each of those newsletters serves its intended purpose requires many considerations, both in campaign development and in the creation of each individual email.

If you’re thinking about creating an email newsletter, or you just want to make sure the one you have is accomplishing your goals, here are the most important components to consider:

Email list

The list is almost undoubtedly the most important aspect of any email campaign. If you are sending to people who are uninterested, don’t recognize your brand, or didn’t voluntarily sign up to be on your list, chances are the email isn’t going to perform very well. Try growing your list organically through your social media platforms, trade shows, and existing relationships. Remember, quality over quantity.

Sender Name and Email

Typically it’s best to send from a name that’s recognizable and trustworthy to a vast majority of your subscribers. This will likely be your company’s name accompanied by a generic from email address such as info@companyname.com or communications@companyname.com. There are definitely times when it’s an advantage to use a personal name and “from” email address. If your subscribers have working relationships with a specific sales rep or agent, it might bode well to use their name and email address as it’s more familiar to the individual subscriber. Know your audience.

Subject Line and Preheader

The subject line and preheader are an opportunity for you to entice your readers to open the email. Make them intriguing, thought provoking, funny or informational. Again, knowing your audience is important here in more ways than one. Know what kind of tone to use but also know what kind of devices they use when you’re considering length. Does your audience mostly open their emails on an iPhone or in Gmail? Different devices and platforms have different character limits. Check out this article from Campaign Monitor about subject lines and finding the right length. (41 characters is the sweet spot, but when in doubt, shorter is usually better.)

Content

This will vary depending on the type of newsletter and how frequently you are sending. If you have a daily newsletter, it may not be necessary to include 10 items every day. But if you have a monthly newsletter, you may have a lot to catch your audience up on. This is also something that you can test. Get to know your audience and what they respond to—including types of articles they click on, if longer emails get better results than shorter emails, etc.

Images

Strong, crisp images can really make an impact. In addition to making your newsletter aesthetically pleasing, it can help you convey your message. Choosing relevant images to support your newsletter copy can only help solidify the point you’re trying to make.

Navigation

A clean layout is important. Make sure your newsletter looks good across all devices and platforms, but especially on those that your audience uses the most. Just because it looks good on your desktop doesn’t mean it will automatically translate to your phone and vice versa. Make sure your call-to-actions are clear and large enough that they are easy to click, even on a small screen.