Your Awesome Guide to Best Practice in Newsletter Design

You’ve got some news, you’re desperate to share it! What do you do? Don’t worry, there’s a fabulous design agency here to guide you on the path ahead.

You know what they say. Give a man a fish and he’ll eat some fish, maybe with a little slice of lemon on the side. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll soon be depleting the world’s vital fish stocks at an alarming rate. That’s right, I think?

Anyway, let’s just jump to it. Here’s our best practice guide for digital newsletter design in 2018.

Step 1 – The Content

Wait, what about the actual design, surely that’s first? We’ll get to that. First of all you need to decide what content to include in your newsletter. This is about planning the strategy for the route ahead.

It’s important to choose content that’s relevant to your audience, but also relevant to the theme of the newsletter. Don’t try and cram too many diverse topics into the same update, and ensure the articles that are included work well together. Pick a theme that works for the news you want to share and weave in the content that complements that.

It’s also important to ensure that you’re not too self-promotional. It’s a newsletter after all. There’s always a place for highlighting your own offering, but you’re unlikely to build a strong readership or enthusiastic audience if all you do is talk about yourself. We’ve all got that one friend, right?

Questions to ask:

  • What’s the purpose of the newsletter?
  • What is the overall theme of the content?
  • Will it be targeted to a specific audience group?
  • What do the audience want to read?

Step 2 – The Subject

The subject line, or title, is easily one of the most essential parts of a successful newsletter. This is the hook that will drag your catch in (we’re really running with this fishing analogy sorry). Take a look at these two titles and have a think which works best:

Title 1: The Robot Army is Here, and It’s Coming for Your Job

Title 2: Robots Will Have a Big Impact on Employment

One of them has an actual robot army, it’s an easy sell right? Both these titles explain the subject, but one of them does so with an emotional hook that will draw your reader in. Never underestimate the power of a good subject line.

It’s important that you don’t mislead people with your title, so be careful to make sure that the content and title match, or at least don’t outright paint you as a liar.

If you think it will work, try putting the name of the recipient in the title for that added personal touch. Remember that best practice is about finding what works for your brand, so experiment with titles and keep an eye on the results.

Tips on a good title:

  • Make it emotional or intriguing if possible
  • Don’t make it absurdly long
  • Try personalising with recipients name
  • Reference what’s in the newsletter
  • Don’t lie about the content

If you want to ape the experts, then check out this MailChimp subject line guide. Yes, I’m sure you see what I did there. No, I’m not proud of it.

Step 3 – The Layout

This is where you design-mad fiends get to play your part! But sorry, not too much. A good newsletter is about delivering your news in a clear, crisp format. That means creating a vehicle for delivery that is easily referenced and easily read.

Keep your design and copy to a minimum. Ensure you use brand colours if you have them. Remember it’s always important to provide consistency across all your marketing materials. Likewise try and include your logo in a prominent place at the top of the newsletter to ensure people are associating the content with your brand. An eye-catching header image is probably the best place for this.

The body of your email is where your content goes. Most newsletters benefit from offering short snippets of information about stories that then link back to your own website or blog. That’s not always the case, but remember that less is more when it comes to newsletters. People just don’t have the patience for huge essays in their inbox. Keep stories short, sharp, to the point, and framed well so they don’t bleed into each other in the design.

The email footer is where all the fiddly bits of essential information should go. That should be things like an unsubscribe button, which are a regulatory obligation in some countries, alongside contact details, potential (very) brief boiler plate info etc..

Here’s a simple checklist:

  • Header – Banner or header image. Include your company logo. Include the title of the newsletter if possible and relevant.
  • Body – Don’t go overboard on copy. Frame the separate stories well so they don’t bleed together. Keep design minimal.
  • Footer – Essential additional information. Contact info. Unsubscribe button.

Time for you to swim alone

You’ve got the basics now, it’s time for you to head out in the world of designing fabulous newsletters. And what a powerful world it can be, here are some rather newsworthy statistics to inspire your efforts:

What are you waiting for? It’s time to get your newsletter design campaign rolling!

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