A guide to email newsletters that convert, from templates to copy

Mailboxes in a row as analog versions of email newsletters

Email newsletters are a powerhouse in marketing for solopreneurs and major corporations alike.

Both types of businesses have to work hard crafting and sending newsletters that work for 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.


Six fundamentals for newsletters that convert

1. Design a newsletter people want to read

When designing a newsletter, you shouldn’t just choose the first one that looks appealing. Think about what people expect from your brand.

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.

Take Wishpond marketing platform’s newsletter gallery for inspiration, which showcases the wide variety of forms a newsletter can take, especially when optimizing for industry and purpose:

Wishpond newsletter templates for high-converting emails

 

2. Your copy is part of your design

Your design also means your copy and tone – both of which should be consistent across your newsletters.

Is your copy 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 content pro Ann Handley’s newsletters, which are a masterful example of combining a first-person tone and feel with industry information.

Ann Handley's newsletter as an example of effective email copy that converts

 

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

Ann Handley's newsletter as an example of effective email copy that converts

 

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.

 

3. Write subject lines people want to click on

Subject lines are the gatekeepers to your emails. The good news is that 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.

 

4. 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.

To optimize your recipient's experience as well as your business's results, here are some best practices for segmentation:

Be specific, but not too specific

If your email group is very small when it comes to sending, it’s probably not a group you should target. Each list should be "the largest possible homogeneous group worth going after".

Make your lists distinguishable

No email marketing strategy is one-size-fits-all. By dividing your email database into clearly defined groups and segments, you can communicate to your different markets and audiences with tailor-fit campaigns and strategies.

Optimize your data collection

Good data comes down to three core things: trust, accuracy, and integrity. Your team needs to ethically and reasonably collect the data you need to create effective segments while maintaining the trust of your contacts.

When a contact opts into email communication and progresses through your marketing funnel, make sure their data – including their opt-in status – is synced to the right apps.

For instance, you could sync your email marketing app and CRM after a contact is labeled 'Customer'.

Measure your results

Make sure you can measure the success of your newsletter campaigns. For best results, go beyond just open and click rates to understand exactly how your newsletters impact your customer acquisition.

Set up tracking to understand how many customers convert as a direct result of clicking on your newsletters, and how many customer conversions it assists indirectly.

 

5. Help readers find your newsletter

Just like selling tickets is an integral part of show business, 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. You could:

  • 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. Look how the popular newsletter Daily Pnut offers proof of their value to potential readers by sharing their archive online:

Daily Pnut shares their email archive to encourage new newsletter subscribes

 

6. Stay consistent and relevant

However often you decide to send your newsletter - once a month, once a week, even every day - 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.


To optimize your newsletter conversions, improve the data in your email app. Start your 14-day free trial of PieSync to connect data between your apps for more segmented and effective campaigns.

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