You'd think it'd be intuitive to write a great email newsletter, but it's not. It's an art that you have to study, learn, attempt, fail, and re-attempt before you finally nail it.
And those who never put in the work to fine-tune this skill end up with mediocre newsletters that no one ever opens.
Like with most things, marketers typically attack an email newsletter with a laundry list of super-duper ideas they think will make out-of-this-world engagement. Hold onto those ideas. But first, let's take a step back.
Open your inbox and look at which email newsletters you opened in the last week. What do these have in common? Is there anything special? Did the email include (or not include) anything in particular that made you open it instead of the other bajillion emails in your inbox?
Think about amazing newsletters like Robinhood Snacks and The Hustle. What makes these newsletters have more than 40 million and 1.5 million subscribers, respectively?
That's what we'll explore in this article.
Below, we'll walk you through our top tips for writing a great email newsletter and share a few free newsletter templates you can use to kick-start your campaigns.
So what's all the hoopla about email newsletters anyway? Are these really worth the regular time commitment, email list cleaning, and sending costs?
Yes, email newsletters are more than worth your effort. However, it's often difficult to track the lifetime value newsletters can create.
Here are just a few of the reasons every brand should use a newsletter:
Engagement: Email newsletters let you interact with your community and let your subscribers engage with you too. Speaking of which, don't send newsletters (or any email) from a do-not-reply email address.
Regular touchpoints: Consumers are busy, and you're not the only brand they love. A newsletter gives you an excuse to jump into their inbox and say, "Hi," frequently without throwing buy-on-get-one and free shipping coupons in their face.
Lifetime value: A newsletter helps you turn would-be buyers and customers into lifetime advocates. If people open (and not unsubscribe), they probably like what they see—and that means you deliver value regularly.
Opt-in: Your newsletter is an opt-in channel, so it's not bothering anyone who doesn't want to participate. However, that's not the case when you launch a broader YouTube advertising or pay-per-click marketing campaign—everyone gets those engagements, whether they want them or not.
Any great email newsletter has to get a lot of elements right. Nailing a single aspect won't guarantee success—it won’t even come close. However, if you can do several things right, you dramatically improve your odds.
Below, we've compiled our top tips for writing a great email newsletter. You don't necessarily have to do everything in this list, but the more you get right, the more likely your newsletter will hit it big with subscribers.
Using a generic "July Newsletter" subject line wastes inbox real estate and creativity. Instead, write only original and irresistible subject lines.
We all judge a book by its cover. Even when we know we shouldn't, we do it anyway.
Your email recipients will always judge your email by its subject line. Bad subject lines lead to low open rates, and low open rates lead to subpar newsletters.
So spend time crafting click-worthy (notice I didn't say clickbait) subject lines that'll entice your subscribers to open. Provide value and intrigue in the limited characters you have. In other words, don't waste any words or spaces.
A consistent email template will provide your recipients with a familiar look and feel—they'll know what to expect and where to look to find what they need.
It'll also help you streamline the production process. All you need to do is open your template and fill in the blanks, and that's a lot easier than starting from scratch every week or month.
Feel free to explore different elements for your newsletters, but try not to change everything at once (without acknowledging it). Think of it like your favorite TV show—if the name of the show and the opening theme song suddenly changed next week, you might think you're watching a completely different show.
That's what you want to avoid when your email subscribers open your newsletter.
Need some help getting started? Check out our engaging email newsletter templates. Each one is free and fully responsive, meaning your customers will have a uniform experience regardless of where they open your messages.
Speaking of choosing a topic, you should also hone in on a subject that's relevant to your brand. It doesn't have to focus on a product or service you provide, but it should apply to your target audience.
For example, it might be weird if we started a general news newsletter as an email service provider.
Newsletters are all about timely content—that's why they usually follow a daily, weekly, or monthly cadence.
While it’s tempting to get ahead of your workflow and schedule your email newsletters in advance (you go-getter, you), avoid this inclination. It might save you time and streamline your processes, but it'll make your newsletters feel less current and up to date.
Using social media content in your email newsletters lets you get double the juice out of your content. Take full advantage of the hard work you already did crafting a witty tweet or high-quality YouTube video—repurpose it somewhere in your newsletter to get more eyeballs.
Teasing your social media content also helps cross-promote your other channels. Ideally, you want your customers to follow you everywhere: email, SMS, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and more.
While it's important to keep your newsletters timely, scheduling them can ensure the messages go out on time. For example, if you want to send a newsletter early on Monday morning, don't set an alarm for yourself to go and press Send.
Instead, schedule your email in advance on Friday afternoon.
Newsletters typically just inform your audience and keep them engaged, but each one also needs a CTA. Tell your audience what you want them to do with the information they just consumed. CTA examples include:
Read more on our website
Post your thoughts on Twitter
Share this newsletter with a friend
Follow us on LinkedIn
Tag us on Instagram
Use this hashtag
Subscribe to our podcast
Sign up for our free trial
In other words, your CTA is where your newsletter turns views into engagement. While it's still a positive brand experience to consume the fun content you churn out, it's even better when you inspire your audience to act.
Use A/B testing to optimize your emails for the best user experience. Over time, you want to A/B test every element of your newsletter to fine-tune it to perfection.
For example, you might try different subject lines or preheader text to see which gets the highest open rates. You could try moving your CTA or changing the colors of your buttons. Or, you might even try a newsletter with and without images.
A/B testing will help you send the best email newsletter to your audience and improve every future iteration. Write down your learnings and build on them until you have a top-performing newsletter—and even then, keep A/B testing.
Brands often simply use an embeddable form in a blog post, pop-ups, or a sidebar form for subscribers to join the newsletter. While this approach works, it's also helpful to have a dedicated subscription landing page.
Use your landing page to include offers and expectations. Tell your subscribers what they'll get and when they'll get it when subscribing to your newsletter. You can also feature past newsletters to give them a taste of what to expect.
Now and then, you might want to switch things up, but keep your audience and their expectations in mind. If you switch the format or timing, let them know in advance.
For example, if you want to experiment with new types of content, tell your audience what's coming. Or, if you want to change the send times and switch from Tuesdays to Thursdays, give them a heads-up.
Use all your marketing channels together—don't isolate any single medium. Your newsletter should help promote your podcast, and your podcast should help grow your Twitter following, and your Twitter following should build your email list—it all needs to come full circle.
It takes a lot of work to take a newsletter from concept to send. You don't want anything to slip through the cracks.
Use our ultimate email marketing checklist to ensure you don't miss any important stages. It'll take you step by step through the entire process (from draft to send) to mitigate mistakes and maximize efficiency.