All Articles Marketing Marketing Strategy Email newsletter guide: Template design and marketing best practices (Part 2 of 3)

Email newsletter guide: Template design and marketing best practices (Part 2 of 3)

What makes a solid email newsletter design? How do you market one? Kent Lewis lays out best practices for both in this part 2 of 3 series.

6 min read

MarketingMarketing Strategy

Email newsletter guide: Parts 1, 2 and 3. Image is of illustration of computer and mobile phone screens, with envelopes flowing from computer screen

Muhammad Ribkhan/Pixabay

In part one of our three-part series on email newsletter best practices, we addressed core foundational elements of an effective email newsletter, including compelling statistics, defining your goals and audiences and how to use competitive benchmarking to inform the overall email newsletter strategy. In part two of the series, we address strategies and tactics to grow your email newsletter subscriber base and how to design an email newsletter template that both engages recipients and facilitates communication of important company news and information.

Build your email list

One of your company’s greatest assets is its contact email list. At least that has been my experience, dating back to when I was in-house marketing for an ecommerce brand in the early 2000s. Based on that experience, I learned that the easiest way to increase your organization’s valuation is to increase the size of your email (newsletter) contact list. Based on more than two decades of experience developing email marketing programs for clients, as well as in-depth research, I have compiled a list of best practices that will help expedite subscription rates and overall list growth, which can translate to a higher company valuation in select industries (like consumer electronics in my case). 

For starters, ensure clarity about the value subscribers will receive, as prospects need to be “sold” on the newsletter, as the value is not implicit. The messaging should be consistent and conducted through all marketing and promotional efforts. For you, the common “hook” is exclusive discounts and promotions as a baseline. To maximize registrations, require the least amount of information possible. I recommend only requiring name and email address fields in your newsletter subscription form. You can add zip code as optional, but it is advisable to secure additional information downstream via surveys and contests, rather than up front, before trust is built.

Beyond a reminder to subscribe to the email within the website template (typically in the footer), incorporate reminders on key pages of the website, including the Home and Contact pages. Do not forget to add a promotion to subscribe to the newsletter in employee email signature files.

An additional way to dramatically increase subscriptions is to add a pop-up window for all new website visitors (cookied so that it disappears once viewed and closed). The pop-up can include messaging like the dedicated page, as well as a unique offer (typically a discount on products, parts or services in the form of a discount code or coupon).

Another way to boost the email list subscriptions is to run a limited-time contest or giveaway, where participants are automatically added to the newsletter. Relevant prizes (branded swag, industry-related products, or services) generate the best subscribers. Aggressive and consistent promotion of the email newsletter via social media channels is essential to healthy list growth. Also, consider offline promotion, including in-store signage (for retailers). Reiterating exclusive offers is particularly helpful in moving offline viewers online for registration.

If aggressive email list growth is the objective, consider targeted ads on Google and Meta (Facebook and Instagram), typically associated with a unique offer. Consider additional social media platforms and industry newsletter or podcast sponsorships, depending on your audience and industry focus.

Create an effective newsletter template

An email newsletter that relies on standard template design yet offers useful information is likely to generate opens, clicks and a few conversions. A well-designed, customized template, however, maximizes the potential for significant gains in performance across the same metrics. 

More than anything else, a professionally-design template clearly articulates the brand promise while engaging subscribers. 

One element of a quality email newsletter template is a responsive design that looks good on a variety of screen sizes (since most readers will be on a mobile device). Ensure your email platform can create mobile-friendly versions of your email newsletter. It is also essential that your email marketing practices comply with CAN-SPAM data protection regulations, including obtaining explicit consent for sending newsletters and providing clear opt-out options.

While design is important from a branding perspective, content is still king. Ensure each email provides valuable information, exclusive offers, or engaging content to incentivize opens and clicks. The most common content sections of a trailer dealer newsletter should include new or sale products or services, featured products or services (based on inventory, popularity, margin or strategic value), customer stories, ratings and reviews (to help communicate the value through the eyes of buyers) and company news (special events, new or expanded locations, new hires, awards, etc.).

Successful email newsletters often include a mix of content, so talk with employees and customers to refine your content focus. 

Visuals play a crucial role in capturing the audience’s attention, which is why the competitive benchmark provides helpful context to inform the email newsletter template design. From a best practices standpoint, your email newsletter template should include the following features and assets:

  • Company logo and related branding (consistent fonts, colors, iconography, etc.).
  • A branded masthead and visually break up content into sections with bars or context boxes for improved readability (assuming the newsletter is in HTML format, which is highly recommended).
  • Embedded images or video to increase engagement. 
  • Be thoughtful about the CTAs, including links to the website, inquiry form, videos, or social media posts. Emphasize your most important CTAs up front or repeat them within the template.

The optimal email newsletter template will be designed with the end user in mind, yet balance the need to clearly communicate valuable content, brand attributes and entice recipients to click or otherwise take a desirable action. 

The above content and design components, when properly integrated, will create a seamless and professional newsletter that meets the objectives of all parties.

In the next and final installment of our three-part series, we will outline how to utilize A/B testing to improve the performance of your email newsletter, audience segmentation and how to analyze data to inform future optimization efforts to maximize the ROI of your email newsletter.


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