The Anatomy of a High-Converting Email Newsletter

Published June 2015, updated May 2019

Do you send an email newsletter to help drive sales and revenue for your business?

You’re not alone. In fact, according to our own research, email newsletters are still one of the most popular types of email campaigns marketers send.

But do you know the different elements to include in your newsletter to get the best results? If not, you could be missing out on valuable clicks and sales.

Read on to learn six key elements to include in your newsletter to help increase conversions and drive more sales and revenue.

How do I make a good email newsletter?

An email newsletter is a regularly distributed email campaign that’s generally about one main topic of interest.

Our own monthly newsletter is an example of this:

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It’s sent on a regular basis (every month) and contains links to a number of articles all about a common topic of interest: email marketing.

6 tips for creating a high-converting email newsletter

While every email newsletter is different, there are a few ways you can improve your own newsletter to help increase the amount of click-throughs you receive.

1. Use a familiar “From” name

The “From” name (along with the subject line) is one of the few things marketers have to leverage to get people to open their email newsletters.

The key to success here is to use a “From” name your subscribers will recognize.

For instance, if you were to sign up for our email newsletter, would you expect to receive emails from Campaign Monitor or from Aaron Beashel? Given that you’ve signed up for these emails from the Campaign Monitor website, chances are it’s the former.

Campaign Monitor customer SitePoint does this well in their daily emails newsletter titled “Versioning.”

This popular daily newsletter contains links to the best content on web design and development from around the Internet and uses the “From” name “Versioning’” to help people instantly recognize the newsletter when it hits their inbox.

So, when you’re creating your next email newsletter, make sure to use a “From” name that your subscribers will recognize and look forward to seeing in their inbox.

2. Break your newsletter into chunks

Research has shown that people don’t read your emails campaigns left to right like a book, but, instead, skim over them looking for things of interest.

Therefore, writing long, text-heavy email newsletters isn’t the best approach.

Instead, you need to break your email newsletter down into easily consumable chunks of information.

To illustrate, take a look at InVision’s weekly email newsletter:

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As you can see, InVision’s newsletter utilizes card-based design principles to present each piece of content on separate “cards.”

This breaks down a lot of information (their email contains 10 different stories) into easily consumable chunks that people can skim over to find stories of interest.

So, when you’re creating your next email newsletter, rather than overload your readers with paragraphs and paragraphs of text, break it down into easily consumable chunks of information that your readers can quickly scan to find content that interests them.

This will help draw them in and increase the chance they’ll click through to your website.

3. Use segmentation and dynamic content to personalize your newsletters

Rather than sending the same content to every one of your subscribers, you can segment your list and use features like dynamic content to show relevant stories and offers to each individual subscriber.

personalized dynamic content

This ensures the content of their campaign is relevant and increases the chances that subscribers click through to your website and make a purchase.

Next time you’re creating your email newsletter, think about the content and its level of relevance to different people on your list, and try using features like Dynamic Content to only show the right stories and offers to the right people.

4. Add compelling images & visuals for each piece of content

Research shows that the average time spent reading a newsletter after opening it is only 51 seconds.

Given this short attention span, and the fact that the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, using compelling images and visuals in your email newsletters can be an effective way to appeal to your readers and get them to click through.

BuzzFeed does a great job of this with their weekly Food newsletter:

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As you can see, they accompany every story in their email newsletter with a high-quality visual that gets people excited about the recipes and what they can cook up.

When creating your next email newsletter, make sure to include high-quality images of the products or services you offer. This will help get your key messages across, even if people only skim the email and don’t read all the text.

5. Include benefit-focused headings and body copy for each content piece

In order to get people to click through from your newsletter, you need to tell them exactly what benefit they’re going to get from doing so.

The heading and body copy that accompanies each content piece in your email newsletter is the perfect place to do this.

We focus heavily on this in our own monthly email newsletter, which includes content from our blog and guides.

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Each content piece we include in the newsletter is supported by a heading and body copy that informs the reader what they’ll learn from clicking through and reading the piece, and effectively increases their motivation to do so.

Next time you’re crafting an email newsletter for your organization, make sure every piece of content you include has a benefit-focused heading and body copy to help motivate your subscribers to click through.

6. Add a prominent call-to-action button for each content piece

In order to ensure you get the maximum number of click-throughs, it’s important to include a prominent call to action for every content piece you include in your email newsletter.

You can do this using either a text link or a button. However, when we recently tested using a button in our email marketing campaigns (as opposed to a text link), we increased our click-through rate by 28%

This is because buttons have a number of unique attributes text links don’t, including:

Size – Often a button will be larger in size than a linked piece of text, catching the reader’s eye
Design – Buttons often have design elements that links don’t, such as shadows, gradients, and other effects. This can make them “pop” off the page and stand out to readers
Color – Often, buttons will have a different color to the background and text, and this contrast draws the eye and makes the reader notice them more

Email experts Litmus do a great job of this in their email newsletter:

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Each piece of content they include in their email newsletter contains a prominent call to action button that contrasts against the background color of that particular section to help it stand out and get noticed.

So, when you’re creating your next email newsletter, make sure to include a prominent call-to-action button that stands out and gets noticed. It’ll help ensure your readers know exactly what the next step you want them to take is, and make it super simple for them to do so.

Bonus tips for 2019

When you’re looking for email newsletter designs to increase conversion and loyalty, the small touches matter. It’s also important to stay up to date on the latest developments in the industry. Email marketing is such a fast-paced field, new best practices develop each year.

This section provides some additional guidance on strategies you can use for newsletter optimization. For an ROI-based conversion newsletter, there are many elements you can utilize to strengthen the content and increase the change of facilitating engagement.

1. Social proof can help you gain user trust

Even with an emphasis on creativity and informational content, newsletters are still promotional content in most regards. Due to this, your readers may be skeptical about what they’re reading. If you want to give them something they can trust, think about social proof.

Social proof is anything that demonstrates the quality of your product or service. It can also reaffirm the claims you make about your own brand. Social proof can be useful for adding credibility to your work and showing a sense of impartiality. Check out the example below, which highlights subscriber numbers.

Check out the example below, which highlights subscriber numbers.

Source: Campaign Monitor

A conversion newsletter can benefit hugely from these figures. Social proof can also come in the form of feedback, user reviews, success stories, and testimonials.

Any content like this could be used to build trust between your brand and your readers. If they see your brand has helped others, they’re more likely to believe it could help them too.

2. Content curation builds authority

Curation has gone by various definitions throughout the years. However, for the purpose of this entry, it could be considered as the process of gathering information from a variety of sources. Ever see those detailed reports with statistics from dozens of authors? Or those infographics that provide tons of insight on a particular topic? That’s curation.

This example shows how SparkToro turned an entire section of their site into a curation center. The top tweets from online marketers are mixed together, pulling relevant information from a variety of sources. It’s diverse, but focused. There’s variety, but also consistency.

This example shows how SparkToro turned an entire section of their site into a curation center. The top tweets from online marketers are mixed together, pulling relevant information from a variety of sources. It’s diverse, but focused. There’s variety, but also consistency.

3. Build your content around the CTA

At first glance, you may think this advice is backward. And, according to some marketers, it is. We’ve been taught the importance of content to such a degree that we put it as the centerpiece and focus everything else around it as a supplementary effort.

This isn’t to say that, in 2019, body text or even subject lines aren’t important. They are. However, newsletters are like any other piece of content. The CTA is the element that can really drive up conversions.

This isn’t to say that, in 2019, body text or even subject lines aren’t important. They are. However, newsletters are like any other piece of content. The CTA is the element that can really drive up conversions.

Source: Really Good Emails

When you’re focusing on email newsletter design to increase conversion and loyalty, everything from the title to the color scheme can be integrated with the CTA, as it is above. By increasing the impact of the call to action, you could also improve the engagement it receives.

Wrap up

Email newsletters are one of the quickest and easiest email campaigns you can send, and help keep your business top of mind, drive traffic to your website, and increase sales.

And, by following the six tips outlined in this post, you’ll ensure that you get the best results possible from each and every email newsletter you send.

If you want to learn about email newsletter design to increase conversion and loyalty, look at these great examples.

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