Easy methods to create irresistible publication content material – with publication examples
Here's how to create an email newsletter that subscribers ask to sign up for. (Plus 19 newsletter examples for inspiration!)
From Kaleigh Moore October 30, 2020
It's no secret that there is money on your email list. But how much depends on you.
According to McKinsey & Company, the average employee spends 13 of their weekly working hours in the inbox. This is both good news and bad news.
The good news is, because people spend so much time in their inboxes, you have the opportunity to make a big impact.
The bad news? More emails = dwindling attention span.
You need to get creative to overcome the clutter of email lurking in your subscribers' inboxes.
We'll show you how to create an email newsletter that will interest your subscribers. Whether you want to improve your current newsletter or are looking for ideas for your first one, these proven email marketing practices are sure to help.
(The Most Fun Way to Get Successful With Email Marketing? Everyday Email, a FREE email course. You'll get 30 short, easy-to-understand tips sent straight to your inbox for 30 days.)
What Makes the Best Email Newsletters?
What are the best email newsletters made of? Fascinating copy, appealing graphics and a clear call to action, right? Yes, but there is more to it than that.
The number of emails flooding inboxes these days is staggering. According to the DMR, the average person receives 121 emails a day (that's roughly 44,000 emails a year). That's a lot to read.
Because of the sheer volume of email people receive every day, it's important to be responsive to your target audience.
How do you make sure your emails are the brightest in your inbox? How do you know which newsletter content ideas are being read?
1. Give readers what they didn't know they needed
The inbox is a sacred space. It's a direct line into the lives of your audience and potential customers – so everything you broadcast should be of the highest quality.
Yes, it is important to create an email newsletter that is free of grammatical errors and broken links. But it's also important to provide actionable and helpful information to readers. Bonus points for giving knowledge or insights into something they didn't know was needed. You want to build a relationship with your subscribers with great content instead of pushing for a sale every time.
Example: If you're a business development coach looking to grow your newsletter readership, including additional content that is important to your audience (like a template or an eBook, or one of those 22 brilliant lead magnets), this is a good idea.
2. Promote communication and request feedback
You wouldn't go into someone's house with a megaphone and start blowing up orders. So don't do this in a subscriber's inbox either.
Start a conversation. Get an answer by email. Ask questions. Get as much information as you can about your readers. What do they want from you
Not only will your subscribers feel like they're speaking to them directly, but their feedback is invaluable to your business as well.
3. Read readers with a great newsletter copy and even better design
You can have the best newsletter copy written, but when it is hard to read it can be difficult to get readers to stick with you. We're not suggesting that bad design mutes the great copy, but keeping the balance between the two is key to creating a high quality email newsletter.
Connected: How to Create Amazing Photos for Your Email on Zero Budget
Take the Artifact Uprising photo company, for example. They are a visual company that is clearly communicated across all marketing materials. In the example below, they stick with large, eye-catching images and bold, monochrome colors.
They don't just rely on bold, featured images, however. The copy, while simple, is impressive – and it's hard to resist clicking that single CTA button to learn how to make your own beautiful photo book.
The copy and images in this example work together to tell a story. This isn't a long email newsletter, but it didn't have to be. It's full of value (an “Insider's Guide” and “Tips and Tricks”) and that's what appeals to readers the most.
4. An email that reads well will be read well
Design doesn't just mean beautiful pictures. This is where legibility comes into play. If you want readers to process your content, make it easy for them.
The Daily Carnage is a great example of strong layout and organization when it comes to email. It's text heavy, but in the best way. Bullets, sub-headings, and colorful calls-to-action make this email newsletter easy (and fun) to read.
When writing your email newsletter, like any other letter, put the most important information at the top. Dwindling attention spans mean it's important to absorb important information first. Next up are the secondary details and other non-essential information.
What is your first reaction when a block of text appears in the body of an email newsletter? Clear? Roll by? If you didn't read it, your subscribers probably wouldn't read it either.
Breaking the copy up into digestible paragraphs or bullets will help your readers understand the message while reducing the strain on their eyes. The goal is to make the copy scannable, which is difficult with large blocks of text.
An easy way to break up blocks of text: use a zigzag or Z pattern in your template. This design arrangement helps readers move further down an email, engaging with the images and content in the process. Think of this as a path for your reader to go. It will help them make it to the end! (In AWeber, use the Flat-White and Gibson templates, which have alternate sections.)
Not sure what to put in your email? We created a free course – What to Put in Your Emails – which has over 45 email writing templates!
5. Use your lists properly
Segmentation is a great way to make your email newsletters more effective and grow your customer base. Segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue, according to the DMA.
Email segmentation allows you to create customer lists based on certain parameters you set and then customize campaigns for each one.
For example, let's say you want to target customers who have bought from you once but have not returned since that purchase. You can create a list of these customers and deploy an email campaign that works towards a sales conversion goal.
Rewarding customers for past purchases, sharing sales information, or encouraging customers to tell their friends about your brand are some of the things you can do with a segmented list. Or you can categorize customers based on their email behavior (who opened / didn't open an email). Then you can tailor each list differently, either by providing further training in your business or by encouraging them to buy with a unique offer.
Understanding what makes your lists unique is key to using them effectively and seeing the ROI of your email newsletters over time.
Connected: The Beginners Guide to Making Money With Email Marketing
6. Treat your subscribers as individuals – not a nameless, faceless list
Before you send an email, stop and think about your list. No, not the size of your list. But the people on your list.
Like Chelsea reading your emails on her 45 minute train ride to work.
Or Victor opening your email while at the grocery checkout.
Or Kate leafing through her inbox with her newborn son sleeping on her chest at 2 a.m.
Stop writing to a faceless crowd of subscribers. Instead, write to the people on your list. When you write to a single subscriber, they come to life in your head. Your writing goes from monotonous to engaging. Generic to targeted. You solve his problems. You introduce him or her to the perfect product. They'll get her to open your next email.
And all of your subscribers will feel like you wrote the email to each of them personally. This is one of the most effective ways to have long-term success with email marketing.
This is the best way to structure your e-mail newsletter
As soon as your readers open your message, they instantly decide whether or not your email has enough value for them to respond to your call to action.
The following three techniques will show you how to structure your email newsletters so that they deliver clear value from the first second.
1. Make your text scannable
Up to 77% of your subscribers may open your email on their mobile devices. This means that they are viewing your content in the palm of their hand. Long blocks of text that force your readers to scroll and scroll create a poor user experience. For this reason, you should break your copy of your email into shorter, more readable sections.
Our advice: Keep email paragraphs to a maximum of 2 to 3 sentences.
Here are 6 other easy ways you can make your email more consumable on a phone – and you can do them all in AWeber's easy-to-use drag-and-drop email builder:
- Separate sections with headings
- Add bullets when listing multiple items or tips
- Include a button in place of hyperlinked text for your call to action (CTA).
- Use one of the hundreds of mobile-optimized templates in AWeber
- Be precise (skip the following clauses, word strength, jargon, catchphrases, and overly difficult terms).
- For multiple articles, just add the first paragraph and then link to the rest of the story
2. Add links for credibility
Adding research, data, studies, and quotes to your content is a compelling way to validate your scores. However, you should always link to your reputable sources. When you mention a company or a public figure, link on their website.
Linking on demand has several advantages:
- Your emails are given an additional level of authority
- Your readers get the expanded value of the linked content
- It's a best practice on the web! If someone relates to your business or content, they should link to you as well.
3. Focus on a call to action
Choice is the enemy of conversion. When you give a person too many options, it is difficult for them to make a final decision, according to psychologist Barry Schwartz, who described this phenomenon as the "paradox of choice."
Would you like your readers to take some action on your email (such as sign up for a webinar)? Then point at that particular CTA with a large button (all other instances can be hypertext links). You shouldn't try to get them to redeem a coupon as well, join your Facebook group and book an appointment in the same email. Your content should take a subscriber down a path – don't give them multiple paths to choose from or you will see little to no success.
Connected: 8 Ways To Improve Your CTA Copy
When it comes to design and content, both are important
When creating an email newsletter, it's easy to focus on the design or the content. But the truth is: both design and content are equally important to the success of the campaign.
If there are too many images and too little text in an email, this can be problematic:
- Email marked "Image Only" may be saved in the Spam folder because email service providers like Gmail filter and block it.
- Subscribers may have turned off viewing / downloading of images in their email settings.
- Depending on the internet connection and browser version, it may take longer to load images than text. Subscribers can delete the email before the images can be loaded.
So how can you be sure that there is a good balance between design and content in your email newsletter?
Let's look at some examples of newsletters and break down what works well.
Design & layout in email newsletters
1. Use the template that suits your goal
Are you sending a discount code to new customers? Bring a new product to market? Announcing a huge end-of-season sale? There are many email templates to choose from, which can feel overwhelming at first. (AWeber has 700+ mobile-responsive templates that you can use. Create your account today!)
The question is, which one is best for the job?
For example, if you're an AWeber user looking to send new subscribers a new discount code to show your appreciation and encourage them to try a product, you might want to choose a template that clearly shows your message. Here is our "announcement" layout that you can customize for your business and brand.
This Nike email does a great job showing readers the details of a product through imagery and copy:
2. Be brave in your image choices
Images do more than just perceive your brand, they trigger emotions. Pictures let you set the mood and tone of your email before subscribers even start reading.
Connected: Curious how often companies include pictures in their emails? For more information, see the AWeber Email Marketing Statistics Report.
This email from The North Face is a perfect example of stunning imagery at work. The picture not only shows the products (waterproof rainwear), but the eye-catching contextual image immediately attracts attention:
3. Use alternative text for images
If you include pictures in your messages, they may always appear in the email clients they were sent to. This is because many email services disable pictures in messages sent to their users unless the user actually verifies that they actually want to see the pictures.
In these cases, alternative text is helpful. If an image does not load, a line of text is displayed describing what should be there.
Check out this email from Hotels.com that blocked images but implemented the use of alt text.
And this is what it should look like:
Now you may be asking, "Is it worth including alt text?"
Absolutely. According to the Litmus email testing platform, 48 percent of mobile clients block images by default. When you set up alt text, it shows the description of where the images should go. If you don't, all your reader will see are empty boxes.
Alternate text is also important to your subscribers with visual or certain cognitive disabilities. They may have a screen reader that will read them the alt text so that they can have a full understanding of what is in your message.
If you're using AWeber's drag and drop editor, click here to learn how to set up alt text for your images.
Pro tip: Not all images require alt text. If your image is just for the aesthetics of the email, you'll need to set a blank alt text value for the image.
Connected: 3 ways to test your email before you hit send
4. Balance your text-to-image ratio
Be bold with your photos – but also limit how many you use in one email. The text-to-image ratio is how much text there is in your email compared to images.
There's no such thing as a perfect "text-to-image ratio", but most people stick to 60 percent text and 40 percent images.
This is why it is important not to rely too heavily on images:
- "Image-only" emails can be moved to the SPAM folder as email service providers such as Gmail, Yahoo! and Hotmail tend to filter and block them.
- Images can be disabled by default by viewers or their email client. This means that some of your image-based navigation items or CTAs (like buttons) may not be visible.
- Depending on your browser and internet connection, loading images may take longer than loading text. A subscriber can leave the email before seeing all of the content.
5. Make use of contrast and spaces
When designing your email, it's important to consider contrast and spaces.
Color contrasting images are not only impactful and interesting to look at, they also help readers see the images. Including a healthy balance of spaces is also a design best practice that can make your email easier for subscribers to read.
Take these newsletter examples from Peloton, Flock, and Headspace. All three newsletter examples use contrasting images and include enough spaces to make reading easier.
6. Focus the design on the ultimate goal
The email design should also be a way of guiding the reader towards your ultimate goal (the CTA). To give you an idea, here is an example from Moo, a custom printing and design company.
This email design is for converting readers to customers because:
- Follows a simple "Z" pattern layout, which means your eyes will move slightly in a zigzag alternating text and images, and has a CTA at each "point" of the pattern.
- Consists of minimal elements and concise writing for an optimized appearance.
- Includes visual examples of each product to minimize the use of long blocks of text and to demonstrate the range of products.
- Creates defined sections for each product using thin partitions.
- Includes plenty of white (or blue in this case) space to draw your attention to the pictures.
- Includes large "Call to Action" product buttons (i.e. shop postcards) for easy navigation to your website.
7. Use large headings and header images
You may have the best headline in the world, but when it drowns in a sea of text no one will notice. This is where the "visual hierarchy" comes into play. You want the most important information in your message to be noticed first. Choose a larger font size and bold text for your headline. This will highlight the main message in your email.
Large header images evoke emotions. You will try to connect to the viewer in the first few seconds after opening your message. The picture sets a mood (happy! Sad! Angry!) Or conveys a state of mind (hunger! Relaxation!).
Listed above are three drastically different emails that give each brand a unique feel, mostly through the use of photographic header images. (Use the Breve or Wane template in your AWeber account to start with a large header image.)
You don't have a big budget or you don't have your own photographer? Here is how to create amazing custom images for your email, social posts, ads and websites without a budget.
Email newsletter content tips
1. Make it personalized
Customizing your email newsletters to suit your target audience is the secret to success.
Thanks to e-mail segmentation, we can categorize subscribers with certain parameters and organize them in lists. Every email created should focus on the interests and needs of the audience.
Customizing emails is very important if done correctly. AWeber's user and personality testing company Truity has seen increased open rates due to its personalization efforts, including personality type-specific messages, such as the following aimed at a specific personality type – ENFP subscribers. Truity uses the "Digest" layout in AWeber's drag and drop email generator for its newsletters, giving it a streamlined, cohesive look every time it hits your inbox.
Connected: Avoid these personalization mistakes when composing your email
You can even personalize subject lines. This is a great way to increase open rates. For more ideas, see AWeber's Guide to Writing the World's Best Subject Lines.
2. Short or long form content
A question that marketers often hear is "How long should my email be?" The answer is there is no one right answer. Both can help you achieve your goal and get your message across. (Try different formats with your audience to see which they prefer through A / B testing.)
The InVision Weekly Digest is precise writing done right. Punchline copy in an easy-to-read format.
Regardless of whether you want to create a short and sweet email or a long one, one thing applies to both: make it easy to read.
This is especially true for long-form content. As mentioned above, it is of no use to anyone to have a large block of text in the body of your email.
Break things up into short paragraphs of 2-3 sentences or use a bullet format to get your message across.
Connected: 8 Powerful Email Copywriting Techniques
Ann Handley – AWeber client, writer and founder of Marketing Profs, sends out a bi-weekly email newsletter, Total Annarchy. It always starts with a long story. However, Handley does an excellent job of presenting a lot of valuable information in a digestible way.
3. Make your emails count
Trust is hard to gain (and easy to lose) when it comes to engaging with your customers. When someone has given you permission to their inbox and opened your newsletter, it's time to shine.
Delivering valuable content to your subscribers is an important component of generating positive ROI for your email campaigns and growing your customer base.
WouldYouRather (WYR), another AWeber customer, does this well by making every email engaging and interactive:
What's more, WYR tracks results every week so subscribers can see what other people selected on their list (who won: compliment or a $ 100 bill) and why. They ask about the reasons for the decisions that were made to gain insight into the human decision-making process.
Bottom line: if your content doesn't have any subscriber information that deserves their attention, keep it out of the email.
4. Special offers can lead to purchases if done correctly
Promotional content can also lead to successful results. This is an essential part of doing business for those in the e-commerce world as well as those who advertise events and sell tickets.
We see this well in this simple, concise email from AWeber users and the band Phish:
5. Be an advocate of grammar (if you aren't already)
Mistakes do happen, but if grammatical errors keep coming up in your email newsletters (or in any of your marketing materials), you run the risk of losing your credibility, customer trust, and money.
Have an editor or colleague look at the copy with a trained eye before adding it to your campaign. After composing the email, have them checked again.
If you're an AWeber customer, you can easily edit the copy after entering it in your template.
Ideas for email newsletter content
1. Reuse your best legacy content
Reusing older, high-performing blog posts in your newsletter is a great way to source content, save time, and generate new traffic for your best work. Consider using your evergreen content (which is not time sensitive) e.g. B. Instructions and answers to frequently asked questions.
If there is breaking industry news to reference your post, even better. Add that fresh touch to your old content in your email newsletter to highlight its timeliness and importance.
2. Interview an industry leader
Interviewing an expert in your field is a great way to entertain, educate, and engage your readers and add a new perspective to your email newsletters.
Ask the thought leader to introduce the interview to their own audience so you can reach new subscribers to add to your email list. Just make sure to sign up for your newsletter during the interview so people know how to participate!
3. Introduce loyal readers and customers
Try to do the same for your loyal readers so that you can interview and introduce high profile thought leaders in your industry.
In many cases, your readers might be better able to relate to the success story of someone who isn't as influential as an influencer. Your success might feel more achievable, even if it's not on the order of an influencer.
Do you need a faster way to present to customers? You may want to share user-generated content from your subscribers, such as: B. social contributions.
In Paleo Pete's email newsletter, he shares Instagram images that have been tagged by his readers.
4. Add videos and interactive content
Most email clients – like Gmail and Outlook – won't play videos in a message. So you need to create a link to a hosted video outside of your email.
However, you can include links to videos that look like you can play them in the email. This is a creative way to deliver movies and get your readers to click and watch.
Interactive and dynamic content is also a fantastic way to engage with your readers. See how to do this in your AMP AWeber account via email.
More inspiration: newsletter examples
The following examples are grouped by category to help you figure out what is most relevant to you.
Newsletter example: blogs
Leading with a strong image and engaging copy is a surefire way of keeping your subscribers reading. The following example (hey, that's us!) Does just that:
(Competitive advantage: Subscribe to the AWeber newsletter. Receive important email marketing tips and news sent to your inbox on a weekly basis.)
Newsletter example: Local and small businesses
Showcase your product or service using an email template that is visual and text friendly. This email from Moo does a great job of highlighting a product sale in a colorful way that is not only branded but eye-catching.
Newsletter example: podcasts
Podcasts usually contain a lot of information about each episode. What better way to create a central place where listeners can research further, learn more, or find out about guests than with a summary email?
This email from Smashing Magazine has a table of contents that makes skipping sections a breeze. With an organized layout and plenty of room for a summary, this format is perfect for podcasts.
Newsletter example: SaaS and software companies
Delivering value to your subscribers, in whatever capacity, is critical to keeping them interested.
Including helpful content like this Using Instagram Story Templates guide from Later is a great way to add value. This also shows subscribers you know what you're talking about.
Newsletter example: non-profit organizations
The human rights campaign knows how to welcome new supporters. This email not only contains a thank you letter, but also describes how backers can take further steps to support the campaign.
Newsletter example: product and e-commerce
As in the SaaS example above, product and ecommerce businesses can add value with actionable content while keeping things fun and interesting:
Now it's your turn
With all this good information now, it's time to turn off your next email newsletter. You may have chosen your template, but you are not sure what to include in each section.
No problem. We've broken down what the layout of your email newsletter could look like.
- title – (your brand name) newsletter (weekly | monthly | etc.)
- Paragraph 1 – This is a great place to sum up your business and explain why you are great. Make sure to include the most important information in this section. When sending a welcome note to new subscribers, include how often they can expect to receive your newsletter.
- Paragraph 2 – Take advantage of your template by choosing bold images that not only reflect the content of your email but also your brand.
- Paragraph 3 – Time to make your writing skills shine. The destination of your email will most likely determine the length of your copy. It is important that your email reads the same as the rest of the marketing materials. So it's a good idea to keep your brand style guide nearby.
Create your email newsletter
Your email newsletter is your opportunity to inform, inform and connect with potential customers. Your subscribers have given you permission to appear in their inboxes at any time. Now is the time to get to work.
Let's recap what we just learned:
- Delivering valuable content to readers is critical to the success of your campaign.
Formatting your email for readability will increase or decrease your click rates.
- Correct use of your segmented email lists through customization will increase your ROI.
- If you create an eye-catching and functional email design, subscribers keep reading.
- Writing an attention grabbing copy that communicates your message goes a long way.
Do you want to start your next email newsletter? Sign up for AWeber Free to start email marketing for free!