15 Best Email Newsletter Practices You Need to Follow

15 Best Email Newsletter Practices You Need to Follow
Jordan Henri J. Henri & C. Boutin Jun 9, 2023 —  12 min read

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 15 tips for making sure people open your emails and click through them.

Whether you’re new to email marketing, 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

Choose double opt-in to build 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 on 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.

Pilgrim uses double opt-in to let new subscribers confirm their intent to stay on the list

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:

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 newsletter signup form:

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 (and spam reports) 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)

Just look at how We Are Knitters uses several of the above tactics to make their subject lines interesting for their ideal audience:

We ARE Knitters subject lines – example of a good practice

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.

Examples of preheaders from different ecommerce brands

If you don’t specify a preheader, the inbox will automatically pull from the first line of the email. As you can see from the image above, the only preheader that isn’t highlighted in red was pulled in by default.

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 a 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 in 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.

We’ll dive into list segmentation later as well.

6. Keep your emails consistent with your brand and pay attention to design

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.

No matter your branding, you should pay attention to design elements in your emails. That’s because your design will affect how your subscribers interact with your newsletter.

For example, an email that’s easier to read will help subscribers understand the content and take action more easily.

But if your design lacks contrast and is difficult to read, your subscribers may miss important memos!

Here’s an example of a cleverly designed newsletter from Briar Baby:

Briar Baby emails follow the best email newsletter practices

Even when you’re looking from far away, you can clearly see the call-to-action buttons because of the contrast. They’ve also highlighted a Pro Tips section without making the newsletter feel overcrowded.

7. Experiment with short and long 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’s promotional newsletter follows the best practices keeping a new collection promo short and eye-catching

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

On the other hand, see how Lovevery gets away with much more text in their newsletter:

Lovevery’s email contains a lot of educational text broken by visuals

Lovevery has more text, but there’s a good reason for it. The brand is using this text to educate its subscribers about their products to increase clickthrough rates.

Bottom line? Remove any unnecessary fluff from your newsletter, but don’t hesitate to use more text when it’s needed.

Every word should have a purpose. If it doesn’t? Remove it.

And if you feel like you need to ‘massage’ your audience a little more to help them understand why they should buy from you? Do that, too!

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 elevate an “okay” newsletter to make a “wow” factor. 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 their 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 send 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 and frequency

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: between 9:00 AM to 12 PM and 12 PM to 3PM.

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.

The best time to send email newsletters is between 9 am and 12 pm, according to Hubspot

However, keep in mind that these are only averages. Your mileage may vary depending on your audience.

For example, if you’ve got a distributed audience across the globe, timing won’t matter as much. It may be 1:00 PM in Europe, but it’ll be 12:00 AM in Australia!

You should also watch your sending frequency in addition to timing. Data suggests that 10-19 emails per month is best.

With fewer emails, you won’t have as many total opens and click-throughs. But with more emails, you’re more likely to get marked as spam or lose subscribers.

However, as with timing, you’ll have to test what your subscribers respond to best to make any conclusions. Speaking of which…

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.

You can even test what happens when you send plain-text newsletters compared to designed newsletters. You can’t write it off until you’ve tried!

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.

12. Segment your list

Depending on your type of business and your audience, you may need to segment your email list for best results.

For example, you could have different product categories with very few overlapping customers in between each category. Or you could have two or more completely separate offer suites for different customer avatars.

In either case, segmenting your list will help you send only the most relevant newsletters to each segment.

For example, let’s say you want to run a promotion, but you don’t know what products to focus on in your newsletter. What if you didn’t have to choose?

Instead, send a separate newsletter for two or more products — and only email the relevant segments who are likely to be interested in each product.

By sending more relevant newsletters, you’ll keep your subscribers engaged, give them the incentive to stay on your list, and make them less likely to mark you as spam.

13. Craft powerful call-to-actions

What do you want your subscribers to do after they open and read your newsletter? Whatever the answer, make sure to create a powerful call-to-action button that drives subscribers in the right direction.

Use specific, action-oriented language in your CTA. For example, instead of writing simple buttons like this:

Plain call-to-action buttons in a promo email

Consider switching up the language like this:

Example of a better, more creative call-to-action in a promo email

Here’s another example of a strong, specific, action-driven CTA:

Example of a specific, action-driven call to action in a promo email

The more active your CTAs, the more enticing they’ll be for your subscribers to act on.

14. Make it easy for people to unsubscribe

It may sound counterintuitive to make it easy for people to unsubscribe. But if someone doesn’t want your emails anymore, they’ll find a way of escaping your list.

Wouldn’t it be better to let them unsubscribe in one click instead of getting frustrated and marking your address as spam?

That’s why it’s better to make it as easy as possible for people to opt out of your list. For example, instead of adding an ‘email preference’ button, add the word ‘unsubscribe’ to your link:

Making the unsubscribe link visible is a good email newsletter practice to follow

15. Share content your subscribers will find valuable

Finally, make your newsletter as valuable as possible for your customers and subscribers.

Yes, that’s easier said than done. But if you want people to gain trust in your brand and consume your emails, they need to have the desire to open your newsletters.

Keep in mind that there’s more than one way to make your newsletter “valuable”. Here are just some ways you can try to spice up your newsletter in addition to your usual promotional content:

  • Share actionable tips that relate to your products or services
  • Curate content from other (non-competing) brands
  • Explain new ways to use your products or services
  • Keep subscribers entertained with stories, anecdotes, testimonials, commentary on topics they care about, and more

Not sure what your subscribers would value? Consider collecting customer feedback to learn more about them.

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.

You can start collecting emails for free using Getsitecontrol — and it’s easy to set up, too! Create your account right now.

Charlene Boutin is a freelance content writer & email marketing strategist for hire specializing in helping Ecommerce and SaaS businesses increase conversions by growing authentic relationships with their audience. She loves helping business owners tell their unique stories to capture the hearts of more customers.

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