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August 14, 2018

6 Newsletter Design Tips to Keep Your Audience Engaged

Reading time about 6 min

Creating an email newsletter can trip up even the most experienced digital marketers because newsletters categorically different from other types of marketing emails.

Simply carrying over your promotional email marketing strategy won’t help you achieve meaningful engagement with your newsletter. That’s because effective newsletters have different objectives, design, and engagement patterns.

A typical promotional email campaign encouraging readers to make a purchase using a coupon code might be seen as a “success” with just a few customers actually clicking through your CTA and “converting” (i.e. making a purchase and generating revenue).

On the other hand, newsletters are meant to build credibility and brand loyalty among subscribers through consistent content engagement. So, your standard for how many people open or click on links in your newsletter will likely be different from that of your promotional email campaigns, meaning your design and strategy will be different as well.

But there’s no need to worry! We’ve got your back with helpful tips to make sure you’re optimizing your newsletter to get the most out from your readers.

By incorporating these newsletter design elements, you can be sure that your newsletter will be the belle of the ball (at least compared to the other emails in your contact’s inbox)!

1. Include Original Copy

Newsletters shouldn’t just be a catalog of links. Create unique content so your newsletter adds value in its own right!

The word “newsletter” often confuses marketers and business owners who mistakenly think that a newsletter should basically be a collection of newsworthy articles from internal and external resources. However, a newsletter shouldn’t just be a collection of links.

Email newsletters can also be a stand-alone resource for subscribers to get valuable information related to your product or business without having to leave the inbox. The primary goal of a newsletter is to build a following and credibility for your brand. So, you should use it as a separate editorial channel that provides unique value beyond just directing traffic to your site. Readers don’t want to see another list of links in their inbox every month.

Newsletter content is a place for a brand’s voice to shine while educating and informing subscribers. Telling a story is the key to creating an engaging newsletter. Taking subscribers on a journey using a mix of text, images, and other rich media is the best way to convey information that resonates with subscribers.

2. Have a Hierarchy of Calls-to-Action

Layer your CTAs to direct users to the content that is most valuable or important.

While promotional emails should only contain one primary call-to-action (CTA) to maximize engagement and conversions, newsletters are a different story. Obviously, there’s a limit to the number of CTAs you can include, but newsletters are about content and information rather than encouraging a purchase decision. To maximize engagement with your content, organize your newsletter CTAs in a hierarchy to clearly communicate to readers where the most important information is.

Think of a great email newsletter design as a sort of digital newspaper. You’ve got the main story on the front page with smaller news stories interspersed throughout the rest of the publication to engage readers who are looking for additional news after reading that first story.

In the same way, a newsletter should have a primary focus in the form of one article or piece of informational content featured above the fold. This main piece represents the overall theme of the newsletter, which can be continued or supplemented below the fold with additional information, downloadable resources, external links, etc. The result is a well-focused newsletter with a main CTA and then a hierarchical “tree” of smaller CTAs as subscribers dig deeper.

3. Use Images

Images can be very effective at making newsletters more engaging.

Relevant images enhance newsletter design by making it more pleasing to the eye and breaking up the text to make it easier to read. This gives readers a chance to rest their eyes, especially those using mobile devices with small screens.

Images are not only captivating, they also make newsletters look more approachable, increasing content engagement among readers.

Utilizing educational images like charts and infographics is a great way to convey information visually as well.

Some email marketers swear by plain text newsletters because of their simple clean design, organic feel, and enhanced deliverability. The argument is that while images are aesthetically appealing, they can quickly result in visual clutter. Too many images and links can also lead to your email newsletter automatically landing in the spam folder.

While plain text newsletters do indeed work better for certain topics, brands, or audiences, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your readers by thoroughly testing different designs.

4. Maintain Brand Consistency

Develop trust and brand credibility with subscribers by keeping designs consistent.

Maintaining a familiar newsletter design is extremely important if you want to build a dedicated following.

Ground your efforts by using the same header and footer across newsletters. The easiest way to do this is by creating a newsletter template that you can use every time you want to send out a new campaign. Then, all you have to do is update the content without having to worry too much about maintaining design consistency throughout your newsletter strategy.

Subscribers should know who sent an email solely from the design. This consistency builds trust and makes it easier for readers to quickly find the information they want in your newsletters. Using different color schemes and layouts with every new campaign can annoy recipients, which in turn can hurt engagement and increase unsubscribe rates.

5. Choose Fonts and Colors That Are Easy to Read

This may seem obvious, but your subscribers won’t be too happy if they aren’t able to read your newsletter content.

Using colors that blend together or wash out your text is usually the culprit for these issues. If you have brand colors that are difficult to read, you may need to get creative by trying complementary colors or the surrounding areas. Use a tool like to get help finding color schemes that work together. This can increase the readability of your emails and improve reader experience.

Similarly, brand fonts do not always provide the best reading experience. While some fonts render well on the web or look great in small quantities (like in a logo or tagline), they may not be conducive to writing an entire email. Instead, opt for a clear, legible font to ensure emails will be easy to read across different devices and various lighting conditions.

6. Promote Engagement

Optimize your email design to encourage more brand engagement to strengthen your customer relationships.

Subscribers can only engage with your newsletters if you provide a way for them to do so. Promote engagement through your newsletter design to motivate subscribers to get involved. Even small design tweaks can make a big difference in engagement rates.

Incorporating social media buttons gives recipients a way to connect on social platforms and start the conversation. Social media links also encourage greater brand satisfaction by providing another channel for customers and subscribers to ask questions about your products and receive post-purchase customer support.

The same is true for non-profit newsletters who use these campaigns as a basis for generating donations instead of driving purchases. Social media is an excellent platform to rally supporters and generate interest in your organization and mission.

Regardless of the purpose of your newsletter, you should also be sure to ask readers to forward it to their personal or professional networks. This is a great way to improve engagement and grow your reach organically. Sometimes, a simple ask is all it takes.

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