A Guide to Newsletters that Convert, from Templates to Copy

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November 27, 2019

A guest blog post by Wishpond

Newsletters have grown to be a powerhouse in marketing, for solopreneurs and major corporations alike.

Both have to work hard crafting and sending newsletters that work for both their audience and their brand.

How do you make a newsletter you know is working? Good writing. Good design. Good analytics.

In this post, we’ll walk you through six things you should consider to craft a newsletter that not only looks good, but persuades people to click and convert, whether that’s getting them to come to your website, donate to a cause, or purchase a product.

Design a Newsletter People Want to Read

wishpond newsletter Caption: Wishpond’s newsletter gallery showcases the wide variety of forms a newsletter can take, especially when optimizing for industry and purpose.

Keep in mind, when designing a newsletter, you shouldn’t just spring for one that looks appealing. Think about what people expect from your brand.

For example, if you’re planning communications from a global top-tier financial brand known for its long history and industry expertise, your audience is probably not expecting edgy and bold newsletters, jam-packed with GIFs and downloadables.

They might be expecting HTML emails, but more on the formal side, definitely aligned with your brand and with your logo to signify that it’s from your organization.

If you’re running a startup, your followers might be expecting something more original, innovative and personal.

If you’re a solo freelancer, followers might be much more understanding of less formality, but put higher value on authenticity.

Your Copy is Part of Your Design

Your design also means your copy and tone.

This should be consistent across your newsletters. Is it strictly informative? Playful? Irreverent? Picture your reader in your mind and what you want to make them feel. Use words and design to get them there.

Take a look at Ann Handley’s newsletters, which are a masterful example of combining a first-person tone and feel with industry information.

Handley’s newsletter is formatted to reflect a warm, caring, fun personality that nonetheless showcases her considerable expertise.

newsletter wishpond


guide to newsletter

After the newsletter itself, which is a first person thought leadership piece, Handley uses emojis as bullet points. ‘Tools’ are useful apps from around the web for practitioners. ‘Love Letters’ are a subtle way for Handley to showcase her featured writing from around the web. And Public Events are invites for where she’ll be speaking.

The images add a splash of color to her email, while the powerhouse content that follows them balances it out. This is a fantastic example of design and copy working in tandem.

Write Subject Lines People Want to Click On

Subject lines are the gatekeepers to your emails. The good news is, the art of a good subject line is one copywriters and marketers have examined from all angles.

There are a few things you want to think about when you’re considering subject lines:

  • Character count: Character count counts! If the meat of your email subject line is cut off by browser display limits, it won’t matter how brilliant your copy is: your readers can’t see it. It’s advisable to keep your email subject lines around 30 characters.
  • Urgency or value: Remember that most of your audience members are as busy (or busier) than you are, and will likely forget your email if they don’t click on it within the day they receive it.

Ask yourself, what reason have you given them to click on it the minute they see the push notification pop up on their phone, or the subject line in their inbox? An irresistible offer? A time limit? A question they want answered?

  • Personalization: Email subject lines that mention your recipient’s name are more likely to get clicked on. For this, you’ll need to collect data on your leads, and need their permission to do it.

Construct Email Lists That Cater to Audience Interests

Segmentation is key. It’s one of the simplest things you can do in your email marketing strategy that will show the most dramatic results.

It filters unnecessary emails from your audience’s inbox, boosts your open rates and your click rates, lowers your unsubscribe rates, and makes your subscribers feel more like your company is catering to them.

Some tips when you’re creating audience segments:

  • Be specific, but not too specific. If your email group is too small at the end, it’s not a group you should target. Each list should be “the largest possible homogeneous group worth going after.”

  • Distinguishable. Each market should be markedly different from each other, enough to respond to different marketing campaigns and strategies.

  • Measurable and actionable: Your team be able to ethically and reasonably collect the data you need to create the segments you need for your marketing strategy.

Help Readers Find Your Newsletter

Just as an integral part of show business is selling tickets, an important part of newsletters is getting people to subscribe.

Getting people to sign up to your newsletter should be a serious consideration in your strategy. There are numerous ways to promote your newsletter:

  • Add pop-ups on your blog and website, especially for visitors who seem particularly engaged.
  • Add a subscription option in your footer.
  • Promote your newsletter on your social media: your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Offer a free sample of your newsletter: even highly popular newsletters like Daily Pnut offer proof of their value to potential readers.

newsletter daily pnut Caption: Newsletter Daily Pnut offers its archive online for potential readers to see its value.

Stay Consistent and Relevant

However often you decide to send your newsletter – once a month, once a week, multiple times – ensure your audience members can count on it.

At the same time, just because your timing is predictable, your content shouldn’t be.

Keep things fresh for your audience. The worst thing you can do is make your audience feel like your email is the same piece of tired information, hitting their inbox day after day, and clogging up their storage space. That’s an easy way to get readers to unsubscribe and lose hard-won leads.

Instead, mix up your content. Intersperse informational posts with offers and contests, make sure it’s not all text, but some gifs and photos, send out surveys and ask for feedback.

Wrapping it all up

  • Design a Newsletter People Want to Read
  • Your Copy is Part of Your Design
  • Write Subject Lines People Want to Click On
  • Construct Email Lists That Cater to Audience Interests
  • Help Readers Find Your Newsletter
  • Stay Consistent and Relevant
About Farahnaz Mohammed

Farahnaz (you can call her Farah) is a content marketer at Wishpond, with a background in journalism and a love for digital marketing, travel and dogs. You can find her on twitter @FarahColette