Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
5 mins read

Publishers: 5 things you should always include in a newsletter

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As newsletters are quickly regaining in popularity with consumers and becoming an essential element of any marketing strategy, many sources have outlined competing ideas surrounding what it takes to craft a successful newsletter strategy, making it harder to get a good idea of what to include in a newsletter to ensure it’s opened, read and clicked.

Crafting and managing newsletters can take a good chunk out of your day. Figuring out what an optimal newsletter looks like for your business requires a lot of trial-and-error and testing. To develop our products over the years, we’ve carried out significant research and analysis to understand what to include in a newsletter for an impactful email strategy.

In this article, we’re sharing 5 insights in order to help you boost open rates, reader engagement, and overall performance.

1) Craft a punchy newsletter subject line

First things first: for a newsletter campaign to be successful, you need subscribers to open your email. This is where your subject line comes in.

A punchy subject line is indispensable. Whether you want to keep it a bit vague and mysterious to elicit curiosity or you’d rather include keywords related to your content, you will need to monitor your open rates to understand what makes your audience tick.

If you’re unsure about what to include in a newsletter subject line, don’t forget to take into account the device your subscribers are most likely to read your newsletter on. For example, if your subscribers are mostly on mobile, you only have a few words to entice them to open your newsletter. If it fits your brand’s tone of voice, you could try using emojis to get your point across more succinctly. Or, if you want subscribers to complete an action quickly, make sure to include a word that suggests urgency to the reader. For instance, the Axios Media Trends newsletter does not hold back in its use of the word “exclusive” to connote important scoops.

2) Design an engaging newsletter layout

Once you’ve convinced your target audience to open your email, you want readers to be able to quickly navigate and engage with your newsletter. Along with the content you offer, your retention rate for your newsletters will also depend on how consistently attractive and digestible they are for readers – and this is determined by your visual elements, such as colors, fonts, formatting, and overall style.

Each newsletter edition will be different, but branding efforts – such as your logo, the color palette, imagery and writing style – should remain consistent. We know how tempting it can be to change the layout and formatting often to accommodate certain content pieces and ensure each newsletter has a certain flair to it. However, this can prove to be dangerous. You may lose your readers halfway through and dilute your brand recognition by creating a confusing reading experience.

It’s important to note that no universal optimal layout exists for all brands. To determine what to include in your newsletter and how it should be formatted, testing is necessary to understand what constitutes the perfect newsletter for your audience. Don’t hesitate to slightly tweak and subtly play around with color, fonts, and content arrangements as you go along. For example, The Brussels Times took advantage of Echobox’s eye-catching templates and automatic multivariate testing, which allowed the newsletter team to quickly grasp what layout and styles worked best for their audience whilst reducing the time spent on newsletters by 96%.

3) Incorporate mixed media in your newsletters

In an increasingly visual and interactive world, newsletters should be as beautiful as they are informative. People’s inboxes quickly get flooded with all types of messages, so it’s important you are able to get your point across quickly through something other than the written word. To do so, don’t hesitate to incorporate other media forms, such as video thumbnails, images, illustrations or audio clips.

Newsletter readers are more prone to spending more time invested in content that catches their eye, and using mixed media is the perfect way to do so. For example, The New York Times makes excellent use of their award-winning photojournalism in their daily news roundup to illustrate their key story, while Uber Eats uses mouth watering images to go alongside deals, offers, and other updates. Some newsletters also include previews of tweets or TikTok videos.

4) Always include links in your newsletters

Another decisive element of a well-thought-out newsletter is… a hyperlink. You should aim to incorporate at least one or two links in your newsletter that redirect to other parts of your website. Bloomberg includes at least twenty links in its (relatively short) tech-centric newsletter. By asking readers to engage with your content in this way, not only do you incite website traffic, you foster brand loyalty by ensuring your readers see you as a trustworthy source and make it easy for them to share links with other potential subscribers.

There are no set rules in regard to how to include links in a newsletter. It could be in the form of a button with a strong CTA that screams “click me” or a simple link within a sentence. Just ensure the link is always contextual and relevant to the subject matter. You’ll also want to make sure your URLs are tracked so you understand how and why your audience came to your website.

5) Send your newsletters at the right time

A recurring question when it comes to newsletters is not just what to include in a newsletter but when to send it. Finding the right time is not easy, but it is a must. The ultimate goal is to make your newsletter a routine read, and this is partly achieved by reaching your audience at the time that suits them the best.

Should it be the first thing in your subscriber’s email inbox, or do you want your newsletter to be something readers sift through at lunchtime? Or perhaps you believe your newsletter has better chances of performing better in the evening? To figure this out, you’re going to need to test a few options and adjust as necessary – and don’t forget to consider your subscribers’ different time zones. The key here is for readers to forge a habit – read more about habit formation in our blog post about creating newsletters that stick.

The right timing can be complex to determine, and when dealing with a large subscriber list, many cultural and contextual factors can come into play.

To recap

There is no universal secret recipe for a successful newsletter that can be created manually, but we have outlined 5 elements that can increase their effectiveness and make your newsletter stand out from the rest: 

  1. A catchy subject line that guarantees a healthy open rate
  2. A pleasing layout that will make your newsletter stand out
  3. Various media types to ensure an engaging email experience
  4. Relevant hyperlinks to redirect your audience to your website
  5. The perfect timing for your subscribers 

Each newsletter edition and each subscriber is unique. Although there are certain best practices for what to include in a newsletter, content personalization is key. 

Republished with kind permission of Echobox, the AI-powered social publishing platform for publishers. More than 1,000 leading publishers worldwide, including Newsweek, The Times, The Telegraph, Handelsblatt, Le Monde and Conde Nast, use Echobox to reach billions of people each year.