11 Best Email Newsletter Practices You Need to Follow

11 Best Email Newsletter Practices You Need to Follow
Jordan Henri
Jordan Henri Aug 24, 2020 — 9 min read
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years, you know how beneficial the use of email is in the world of marketing.

As trends pass, email marketing continues to stay relevant and produce the highest ROI among all marketing channels.

One of the most effective ways of using email to your advantage is to create an email newsletter. It can help you keep customers engaged while building a long-term relationship with them.

But how do you get started? What are the best email newsletter practices you need to know to be successful?

To answer these questions, we’ve collected 11 tips for making sure people open your emails and click through them. Whether you’re new to this, or you’re trying to optimize your existing campaigns, you should check them out.

1. Choose double opt-in for building a more engaged list

If you have low open rates and lots of people unsubscribe each time you send a newsletter, it might mean that your subscribers aren’t interested in your content.

But how do you make sure you get leads instead of random people in your list? Consider using a double opt-in.

A double opt-in subscription approach means that when someone signs up to be a part of your email list, capturing their email address isn’t sufficient. They must also click a link in a confirmation email to validate it.

Use double opt-in if you want to make sure that only those who really want to receive your newsletter get to join the list.

I know, I know. The double opt-in obviously leads to a smaller number of subscribers. But on the other hand, it guarantees that you’re building a list of qualified leads – engaged people, interested in what you have to say. So, it’s quality over quantity.

As a result of implementing double opt-in, you get the following benefits:

  • Higher conversion rates
  • Higher email deliverability
  • Low chances of getting to spam

Luckily for you, most email marketing software has a simple process for enabling double opt-in. For example, if you’re using MailChimp, it’s as simple as checking a box in your form settings.

Enabling double opt-in is a good practice to maintain an engaged list

It’s always a great start when one of the smallest changes you can make happens to make a world of difference.

2. Let subscribers know what to expect from your emails

Another great email newsletter practice is to set expectations from the get-go.

Before people join your mailing list, you should tell them what exactly they are subscribing to.

Are they going to be receiving emails monthly or bi-weekly? What about content? Are there product recommendations? Discounts? Links to relevant blog posts?

Clear expectations also help you create a more engaged list, and there are two easy ways to implement this tactic.

First, you can add the details right to the copy of your email newsletter popup:

Notice how this form tells you what type of content you’re signing up for, and how often you’ll be receiving it.

Another way to set expectations is through a welcome email.

Look at Casper’s welcome email brilliantly doing the job:

Casper uses their welcome email to let subscribers know what type of content they will be receiving

Casper tells you exactly what you’re going to get from their newsletter. No guesswork. No surprises.

Being upfront about the content and frequency is one of the best email marketing practices that helps you keep your unsubscribe rates to a minimum.

3. Keep subject lines concise and catchy

Your emails aren’t going to do much good sitting in your recipient’s inbox, never to be read.

But how do you persuade your audience to actually open them up?

It all starts with a great subject line.

35% of people say they’ll open an email based on the subject line alone.

Your subject line can easily make or break your open rates, so take the time and figure out the best practices for writing it. Here are a few of them to help you get started:

  • Keep it brief, no need to be too wordy
  • Keep the language focused on the recipient
  • Use the scarcity principle where appropriate
  • Use relevant emojis sparingly to spice things up
  • Use personalization (more on it in a few of paragraphs)
  • Align your subject lines with the content of your email (be clear about what’s inside)

Without an interesting subject line, your email newsletter has all the chances to be doomed to the trash can without even being opened. Keep that at the front of your mind!

4. Use the preheader text to increase open rates

Using a preheader is one of those often-overlooked tactics that is actually essential for boosting your open rates.

But first of all, what is email preheader text exactly?

An email preheader is a bit of text that displays after the subject line before you even read the email. You can see it when you open your inbox, whether on desktop or mobile.

Preheaders give you an insight into what the email contains. This text can be incredibly useful to you, considering many who read subject lines will see your preheader text as well.

RW&CO has used this real estate to place a call to action and add some scarcity:

Using preheader text is another great email newsletter practice

This preheader text does a great job of elaborating on the subject line and providing an incentive to open the email.

Another great tactic is the use of personalization in your preheader text. We’ll talk more about personalization in a second, but it works incredibly well in both subject lines and preheaders.

Don’t make the mistake of neglecting your email preheader text. Nobody wants to see the default “Having trouble viewing this email?”. Customize that part of the email and watch your open rates soar.

5. Make effective use of personalization

You’ve likely heard a million times that personalization is one of the best email newsletter practices. And it’s all true.

But have you ever actually figured out what that entails?

Personalization can take on many forms. The most popular tactic is using the recipient’s name in a subject line or preheader text:

Personalization helps increase email open rates and click-through rates

This trick is so popular for a reason. When a customer’s first name is included to the subject line, the email has 29% higher chances to be opened!

However, personalization doesn’t stop there. At the end of the day, the cornerstone of email personalization is relevancy. Keeping your newsletter content relevant to each segment of your audience is the number one bit of personalization you should accomplish.

For instance, you can send personalized birthday discounts to your customers and include product recommendations based on the items they viewed in your store. Or you can send them content based on their previous purchases.

From a customer perspective, personalized email content means that you care.

Let’s suppose you’re running an ecommerce store for organic pet foods. It wouldn’t make sense to promote your latest blog post on exercises for dogs to a cat owner, would it? Of course not. This would be an easy way to show your audience that you don’t care about them.

Just like that, personalization is crucial for many businesses, and it’s closely related to audience segmentation. When you have a well-segmented list, personalization will easily follow.

6. Keep your email newsletters consistent with your brand

Here is the deal. When your recipient opens your email, they should recognize your branding immediately. It’s important to help them identify your business among dozens of new emails and prevent them from missing out on the message.

Not only that, but you’ll need to remain consistent with this throughout the entire lifecycle of your email newsletter.

Here is an example of Headspace doing a great job with branding their email newsletters:

Headspace makes sure to use consistent design in their newsletters

Their branding is instantly recognizable. You can see they’ve matched everything perfectly to the branding on their website, too:

Headspace website and emails reflect consistent branding through all channels

Don’t underestimate your customer’s ability to recognize your branding and consider making it a part of your email newsletter template.

7. Picking between short and long format newsletters

Understanding how the length of your email newsletter can affect your conversion rates is a vital bit of information. However, there isn’t exactly a clear answer here.

It really depends on the type of newsletter you’re sending and the action you want your recipient to take.

For instance, short newsletters are great for sending your subscribers to a bigger piece of content – a blog post, research, video, or a webinar. This doesn’t require much text, imagery, or even formatting.

Promotional newsletters, on the other hand, tend to be longer and include visuals. If you’re going with a longer newsletter, make sure to break up walls of text using relevant imagery because large blocks of text will likely go unread.

Check out how Everlane does it:

Everlane uses the best email newsletter practices to properly combine copy and creative in their promotional emails

Short and to the point. When promoting a new collection, they don’t need long-winded newsletters. This will do the trick.

Bottom line? Remove any unnecessary fluff from your newsletter. Whether it’s a short or a long-form, only include the info that is crucial to having your recipient read through the email and click the CTA button.

8. Use media effectively in your newsletters

The use of media, such as images, GIFs, and video content, can be a bit of a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, imagery can take an okay newsletter to a great one. And you’re not limited to still images! Look at how Noble Desktop, a NYC design and coding school, uses GIFs to illustrate the fun atmosphere in their classes.

Noble Desktop uses GIFs to attract potential students to their classes

As of 2020, GIFs are the new black for email newsletters. They’re fun, they spark attention, they can show more than a still image, and they make you stand out in the customer’s inbox.

On the other hand, before you add a bunch of creatives to the email, it’s important that you remember about hidden pitfalls.

Often, marketers forget that using images that are too large can negatively impact user experience. Going overboard with the size of images (let alone videos) can make emails load forever which can quickly send your recipients packing and your newsletter into the trash.

You should also be keeping a balance between imagery and text. An email composed of nearly all images and GIFs can be a nightmare for your audience to navigate.

Use images sparingly to keep your email newsletter designs interesting and have your brand shine through. Just remember that when used improperly, they can have some serious negative effects.

9. Optimize your email newsletter for mobile

With mobile open rate being as high as 46% for emails, you’d be a fool not to make sure your email newsletter is well optimized for mobile. Why would your audience remain interested in what you have to say if they can’t even open your newsletter on their iPhone?

This may seem obvious for some, but the importance of a mobile-optimized email newsletter can’t be stated enough.

So, how do you make sure your mobile audience has a great experience while going through your emails?

Well, there are a few different actions you can take to make your newsletters more mobile-friendly:

  • ✔️ Avoid large blocks of text
  • ✔️ Ease up on the large imagery
  • ✔️ Keep CTA’s easily accessible (buttons, not links…)
  • ✔️ Be wary of the length of your subject lines and preheader text
  • ✔️ Test your email newsletter across different devices before sending it

Putting these email newsletter practices into play can go a long way towards boosting your open rates. Don’t sleep on them.

10. Send newsletters at the appropriate times

Guess what. The day of the week and the time of the day you send an email can have a significant impact on your open rates.

But when are these times exactly?

Well, the data shows that emails are best sent during two different timeslots. The first being around 10:00 AM, and the second being around 1:00 PM.

As far as days of the week are concerned, the difference is slightly more minute. Monday and Tuesday tend to be slightly better days, but not by too much.

Sending your email newsletters at these specified times may only give you a slight advantage over your competition, but when the competition is this fierce, any advantage is great news.

11. Always be testing

Whether it’s your subject lines or the placement of your CTA buttons, there’s no way to tell if you’re taking the best course of action without some good old A/B testing.

Seeing real data on how well your emails are performing is the only way to capitalize on strategies that are working and fixing the ones that don’t.

Are you better with a witty and funny subject line or a more formal one? Do GIFs cause a higher click-through rate? Should your CTA button be on the far left or right? These are different hypotheses that you can only decipher using split testing.

This also goes for your send times. While there is data suggesting which times generally work best, depending on your industry, the time you should send your emails could be different.

You’ll never know until you test. And thankfully, most email marketing apps allow for easily split testing various elements of your newsletter without you having to deal with the code.

On top of that, you can simply ask for feedback from your audience.

For instance, next time you send them a newsletter leading to your website, you can place a quick survey form visible to the email recipients only.

Alongside testing comes a willingness to always be improving and changing what isn’t working. Without that, you’ll never know if you’re going down the correct path.

Use these email newsletter best practices to maximize your ROI

Email newsletters can be a tough endeavor to nail down. From subject lines to mobile optimization, there is a lot to cover.

But email newsletters are also a great way to qualify new leads and convert them into lifelong customers. The end certainly justifies the means.

Now that you know some of the best email newsletter practices, it’s time to apply them to your campaigns. But remember that it all starts with a proper email subscription form. So if you don’t have one yet – that will be the best place to start.

Tips for your marketing strategy