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How to Create an Email Newsletter People Want to Read

Email marketing is a key component of any successful marketing strategy—in fact, it provides companies with a potential ROI of $44 for every $1 spent. In this blog, learn 7 of our best tips to creating a email newsletter that gets opened and read.  


HubSpot says email newsletters are an essential way to keep your subscribers up-to-date with relevant information.

Newsletters help you stay top-of-mind and ultimately drive more leads. Newsletters give marketers the ability to increase customer happiness and retention, nurture leads to make them more likely to convert to customers, and spread brand awareness with guaranteed reach (unlike social media).

So how do you create a great newsletter, one that your subscribers look forward to actually reading? 

We are about to tell you. 

 

Email Newsletter Tip #1: Keep It Easy To Scroll And Skim

Make sure your newsletter is skimmable and scrollable. 

Minimal design and copy are key to creating a great user experience for your subscribers. Confusing the reader with too many competing messages at the same time is a sure-fire way to annoy them and make a newsletter they do not want to read.

In this HubSpot guide on email newsletters, HubSpot Content Strategist Brittany Leaning says, “White space is key in email newsletters because it helps visually alleviate the cluttered feel, and on mobile, makes it much easier for people to click the right link.”

Hubspot guide_email newsletter

Note that white space doesn’t just look nice, it improves functionality, helping your reader click on the content they want to learn more about.

While we’re on the subject of design, your template doesn’t have to be anything fancy.

Simple is better if it makes the newsletter easier to skim and correctly click, especially on mobile devices. This is important because 46% of people surveyed in 2018 opened emails on mobile, according to data from Litmus.

Don’t lose 46% of your readers by creating a bad mobile experience for your email newsletter!

 

Email Newsletter Tip #2: Keep It Short

Expanding on email newsletter tip #1, a shorter newsletter, with plenty of white space above the fold and throughout is usually more skimmable and scrollable. 

You may be asking, “How do I know if my email newsletter is too long?”

By keeping an eye on the clicks throughout your emails, to see how far down people will scroll (and you can easily check this out on the performance tab click map of all your sent emails in HubSpot). For example, if none of your subscribers click on any links after the halfway point of your email, for several newsletters in a row, you can probably cut the newsletter length by half.

email click map_email newsletter

The next step towards a shorter newsletter is reducing the content so your newsletter only contains valuable information for the reader. If the content is not going to spark joy with your audience, leave it out. Less is more. 

In addition, make sure your template is not too big. A large file size could get clipped or cutoff by email clients. Gmail is notorious for doing this on emails larger than 102 KB.

Clipping the bottom of emails means your readers don't see all the valuable content or offers you worked so hard on creating. It also means people can’t see the unsubscribe links at the bottom of the newsletter, and not being able to unsubscribe easily will annoy your readers. 

One way to avoid this, is to test and fix emails that have clipping issues and always include a web version of your newsletter, just in case this happens. This is the small link at the top of many emails that says, “View this email as a webpage.” 

HOT Tips

  • In HubSpot, you can easily test and fix emails by using built-in tools in the email editor like - 'sending a test email' to yourself or a colleague and 'testing your email in various email clients' and of course utilizing the 'optimiztion tools'.  
  • You can also easily add 'view this email as a webpage' in the email editor, under 'settings', 'advanced settings' and by clicking 'web version'. 

 

Email Newsletter Tip #3: Make It Relevant Not Promotional

Be a helpful resource to your audience by creating a newsletter with 90% educational content and only 10% promotional content. 

Ways to achieve this are to experiment with smart content rules and other forms of personalization to make the newsletter more relevant for each subscriber. Examples include

  • Smart Content: content that changes depending on a characteristic of the subscriber and the stage of the buyer's journey they are in. An example of this is if a lead downloads an awareness based eguide from you, you can then send them a newsletter with a consideration stage case study as the CTA.

  • Personalization: includes inserting tokens into your content that will display a lead or contacts name, company, and any other properties your CRM keeps track of. 

HOT Tip: You can also add a 'Smart Rule' in your email subject lines in HubSpot now, to send different versions of your email subject line to specific readers!  When you are creating an email in HubSpot, this is in the email editor at the top under 'email details'. 

smart rule_email newsletter

A/B testing is also a great way to help you learn what content is more popular and relevant with your subscribers. Learn more about A/B testing in this blog post on email marketing tips.

HOT Tip: A great way to start making newsletters more relevant for your audience is to first segment your subscribers between customers and non-customers. Create one newsletter for customers, and one for non-customers. Segmenting into customers and non-customers means you can provide more relevant and personalized information, which is more likely to either convert or delight. For example, customers can read more about product updates, which non-customers may not be as interested in yet. 

 

Email Newsletter Tip #4: Focus

Focus On One Main CTA

Pick one primary call-to-action (CTA) and make it more prominent than the other CTAs in the email. This primary CTA is the one main thing that you would like your subscribers to do. It would be nice if your readers clicked on the rest of the CTAs in the email, but it would not help achieve your company’s newsletter goals as much as clicking on the primary CTA. Don't overwhelm or confuse your readers with competing messages of what action you want them to take.

Focus On One Topic

In addition to not having CTAs competing for importance, this HubSpot email newsletter guide states, “one of the biggest problems with email newsletters is that they are often cluttered and unfocused because they are supporting every aspect of your business. Product news goes right next to PR stories, blog posts go next to a random event week … it’s kind of a mess. Email — whether it’s a newsletter or not — needs one common thread to hold it together.”

One way to help reduce the randomness and help focus an email newsletter is by keeping each issue of the newsletter dedicated to one specific topic. So instead of the newsletter being about all aspects of your company every month, maybe it’s dedicated to one vertical or even one product each month.

 

Email Newsletter Tip #5: Make It Easy To Create

Leverage Existing Content 

One common way to leverage existing content in your newsletters is to create and include quick summaries of their most popular blog posts, linking to the full article and showing the featured image from the post.

Though focusing on one topic per newsletter is a strategy we recommend, there are different forms of content you can add to the newsletter that already exist at your company. In addition to blogs, the newsletter can contain content such as a new offer or PDF guide, an announcement about an upcoming event, information about a discount, or a link to a survey.

HOT Tip: The best marketing is marketing you do consistently!

By removing the burden of creating all new content for each newsletter, you are making it easier to publish on a regular basis.

Use Video!

Adding videos to your emails can boost click rates up to 300 percent, according to MarTech Advisor.  Keeping the 'make it easy' tip above, your videos don’t have to be professional. Show your company’s human side by using your team members or yourself in videos from a smartphone. This way the message comes across less staged and more authentic. People connect with people, not with companies.

Vidyard makes it easy for your team to create informal videos of themselves talking to subscribers, and it integrates with HubSpot creating a new feature called HubSpot Video.

Learn more by watching the video below

 

If you are having a hard time thinking of what you would create a video for... consider a video of the latest features and changes to your product. This would be especially helpful for customers and you can use software such as Loom for showing digital products. 

Short videos, such as team member interviews, are also a great way to get your team involved in creating content and feeling like part of the process, especially for coworkers who do not like writing.

A video marketing article from Databox agrees, stating that a video may be a good idea when the people on your team have more fun standing in front of the camera than writing an article. 

HOT Tip: Entrepreneur magazine has some good advice for adding video to your email marketing as well.

 

Email Newsletter Tip #6: Make It Easy for Your Readers to Recognize

After initially testing your newsletter to find the best time and day for open rates, start to consistently send the newsletter on these days and times. You can also set expectations from the start on subscribe modules or pages by promoting the the frequency, content and any other relevant information.

A recent HubSpot article showed research from GetResponse, an email marketing software that combed its data to compile a report of email marketing benchmarks. They analyzed 4 billion emails from 1,000 active senders and received some interesting results about send times below.

email send times_email newsletter

Using clear subject lines is also important so that your subscribers can recognize the email as your newsletter, as opposed to a subject line that might seem like a promotional email. 

Consider giving your newsletter a different sender name and email address than promotional emails. Using a real person's name and email address can achieve better open rates than sending from more generic email addresses such as info@company.com.

You can also use the same format for your newsletters, so it is recognizable to subscribers when they open it. Repeat the same layout, content order (such as the featured blog first), image and text alignment, link and CTA placement. A common mistake is changing the format to fit whatever content you can quickly find for that newsletter edition.

 

Email Newsletter Tip #7: Involve The Reader

Highlight a reader or customer in your newsletter to help subscribers feel included. theSkimm and Ellevest’s newsletters use this strategy, where readers can anticipate being featured and are therefore more likely to open and scroll through the entire email.

Engage in dialogue in your email newsletter so people feel involved in creating the content and know you are listening to them. This could include asking questions the audience can reply to, or linking to surveys they can take. 

Involving the reader also indirectly involves looking at the analytics to see which topics or content formats are most popular, and then increasing the frequency of those. You can easily do this in HubSpot under 'Reports', 'Analytics Tools'. After that you can choose either 'Website Analytics' or 'Traffic Analytics' depending on what you want to look at.

  • Website Analytics: track the performance of website pages, landing pages and the blog
  • Traffic Analytics: track sources, pages, topics under the SEO tool, and campaigns.

analytics_email newsletter

Email Newsletter Tips: What Not To Do, In Review

  • Make it cluttered
  • Send too often. How often is too often? Possibly when you see open rates go down, spam reports and unsubscribes increase. It also depends on your team’s capabilities...a great newsletter once a month is better than a mediocre newsletter once a week that everyone feels rushed to create.
  • Send whatever you want to send with no consideration to what the subscriber wants to read.
  • Keep sending the same types of topics or content without analyzing newsletter performance against your goals on a regular basis. 
  • Make the newsletter a completely new thing every month
  • Make it too long 
  • Not testing on mobile
  • Not using alt text on images
  • Not having a plain text version
  • Not having one person designated as responsible for ensuring it is published. One person should own the project and direct others, to ensure that it is created on time on a consistent basis.

 

Email newsletter- - What not to do

Additional Resources To Help You Create Newsletters People Want To Read:

 

Conclusion 

There you have it... our top email newsletter tips. Do you want to learn more about HubSpot Email? If you found this helpful, you may also enjoy:

If you want to speak to a HubSpot Specialist about your email newsletter needs, click the button below to book a complimentary 30min chat.

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