Improve the Look of Your Email Newsletter in 5 Simple Steps

It’s easy to let your email marketing newsletter get stale. You find a formula that works and send a variation of the same thing day after day, week after week, month after month. But then you start to notice open rates falling, unsubscribe rates rising and higher than normal volume of spam complaints.

If you experience any one of those issues, it’s time to take a look at what you’re doing and make a plan for how to get back on track. One of the best ways to stay fresh is to improve the look of your email marketing newsletter. Here are five easy ways to do just that!

1. Test a new format. Many companies with email newsletters are still sending them in a plain text format because they believe that’s what their subscribers are used to and that they won’t want anything new. This may have been true five years ago, but with the proliferation of HTML emails from companies of all sizes, people are much more used to seeing this format in their inbox. About two years ago, a former client of mine tested a new HTML template versus the plain text format it had been using and discovered that 95% of readers liked the HTML better. And those other 5% were still able to receive plain text because most email service providers allow you to set up both formats when you schedule mailings.

2. Design an email template. Now that you’ve tested the HTML format and decided to use it, you need to design a compelling, modern email template. Keep the design cohesive with the rest of your brand and consistent with your website style. If you don’t have an in-house design team to tackle such a project, ask your service provider if they offer design consulting services that can provide just the look you’re seeking.

3. Use your tools. Going off of my first suggestion, once you make the switch to HTML, it’s time to begin utilizing all of its capabilities. One of the main ways you can harness the power of the HTML format is by using graphics and photos in your emails. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard at a conference what a big difference having a photo on your landing page or email can make in reader engagement. And I’ve seen it in my own experience, especially with email newsletters that have several authors who can be difficult to distinguish between. Adding a photo helps the reader put a face with the name and writing. Another benefit of using the HTML email format is the ability to use formatting like italics, bold and underline. Inserting subheads in a different size font with a special type treatment can really help the reader engage with your content and find exactly what they’re looking for in each email.

4. Create a standard header. Most email programs offer a preview of the email you’re about to read. This is a great opportunity for you to create a standard format for the top of all of your emails that will give readers a snapshot of what to expect inside. I recommend including the date, author’s name, a dateline (city and state where the piece was written) and then two or three subheads that correspond to the content.

5. Mix up ad placement. If you always put an ad in the middle of your content, try putting it at the top instead. This works especially well with special offers, discounts or coupons, but can be used for any type of advertisement. If readers always see ads in the same place, they’ll learn to reader over them. Make them take a second look by moving the ad around or even including an extra one. And sometimes send mail with less advertising, giving your list a bit of a break every now and then will actually earn you more money in the long run.

Follow these five simple steps to ensure that readers are sticking around and staying engaged longer by modernizing the look of your email marketing newsletters!

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