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8 Excellent Email Newsletters You Can Learn From

ANDREA WILDT - AUG 10, 2016

Newsletters are a staple in the email marketing world because they simply work.

When business owners were asked what kinds of emails they send, newsletters topped the charts, followed by promotional and welcome emails.

Why have newsletters stood the test of time? A newsletter keeps subscribers informed about your business or product without being overly “salesy.” It gives subscribers a chance to engage with your business on their terms and provides a level of brand awareness that’s valuable to your business.

And here’s the best part: subscribers want your newsletter. When consumers were asked how they’d like to receive updates from a brand, 90% chose newsletters, while 10% chose Facebook, according to Nielsen research.

At Campaign Monitor, we have some amazing customers that send out-of-this-world newsletters. Whether you’ve sent dozens of newsletters in the past or are just starting out, here’s a rundown of eight excellent email newsletters, along with a lesson you can learn from each:

Excellent newsletter #1: Rolling Stone

Lesson: Organize your newsletter into sections

Your subscribers are busy, so it’s important to organize your content to accommodate their go-go-go lifestyle. The best solution is to organize your content into sections, similar to a newspaper. With content “chunked out” your subscribers can scan the titles and images for content that’s of interest.

Campaign Monitor customer, Rolling Stone, reaches out to its subscribers with a regular, well-organized newsletter. In the example below, there are five articles featured, but each one has its own space, title, and image. It’s easy on the eye and follows a simple top-down flow.

Excellent newsletter #2: Red Bull

Lesson: Prioritize content

Research show humans now have an average attention span of eight seconds, which is shorter than a goldfish. Given this information, it’s a good idea to prioritize your newsletter content.

In other words, put your best content on top. If subscribers don’t scroll down, at least you know they had a chance to check out your best stuff.

The best article shouldn’t just sit at the top of the newsletter, it should also stand out in some way. Red Bull, for example, gives its headline piece a larger image and centers it on the top.

Excellent newsletter #3: BuzzFeed

Lesson: Write a killer “teaser” for each article

You’ve probably noticed that none of the newsletter examples provide the full text of an article; instead, there’s a small description of the article with a call to action that drives traffic back to a website or blog where the entire article lives.

The small description is important. Your job is to write something that “teases” the reader, giving them a unique piece of information that encourages him or her to click on the story.

BuzzFeed has the market cornered on creative “teaser content.” Take a look at some of the teasers this publisher uses in its recent parenting newsletter.

Excellent newsletter #4: Academy of American Poets

Lesson: Offer a good mix of content

Variety isn’t just the spice of life, it’s the spice of a newsletter too. Your newsletter should have a good variety of content for subscribers to choose from.

Campaign Monitor customer, Academy of American Poets, knows how to keep their content fresh and diverse. Take a look at the example below. Their newsletter features a list of summer-themed poetry, a feature piece on a judge that will participate in an upcoming competition, and more.

Excellent newsletter #5: Penguin Random House

Lesson: Add personalized content

Are you creating one newsletter and sending it to all of your subscribers? Take a page out of the Penguin Random House playbook and send more personalized newsletters.

Based on information that you collect from your subscribers, you can segment your list and provide personalized content.

For example, the newsletter below features books based on the subscriber’s interests. How does the publisher know which books the subscriber likes? In this case, Penguin Random House sent the subscriber a link to a preference center to select the book genres that are most appealing. Using that information, all of the newsletters that this subscriber gets are now customized.

As you probably know, personalized emails get six times high transaction rates, so it pays to tailor content to your audience.

Excellent newsletter #6: Apartment Therapy

Lesson: Use compelling images

The tips above have focused on content, which is certainly important for a newsletter. However, images shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, images can be just as important as the copy in your email newsletter.

Research shows content with relevant images gets 94% more views than just blocks of text. Images draw your subscribers in and encourage them to take a closer look at your articles. They also allow readers to make an emotional connection with the content. For instance, a picture of a concert might make a subscriber think of a great time they had at a local show.

Of course, the main takeaway here is “relevant images.” In other words, the images you select should complement the content. (If you’re having trouble finding relevant images, check out this list of eight free sites to get images for your newsletter.)

Campaign Monitor client, Apartment Therapy, does a great job of selecting images for its newsletter. Each image is crisp, clear and directly related to an article in the newsletter.

Excellent newsletter #7: Fashion Magazine

Lesson: Create a clear call to action for each article

Each article in your newsletter should have a clear call to action so you can drive traffic to your website or blog where the content lives.

As you might expect, on of the most common calls to action in newsletters is “Read More,” which directs the subscriber to the full-page article on your site. Fashion Magazine uses “Read More” throughout its email newsletter. The call to action is also in a bright color that stands out; another great idea businesses should mimic. Check out these 75 calls to action to use in your email newsletters and campaigns.

Excellent newsletter #8: Virgin Experience Days

Lesson: Select a dynamic color scheme

Don’t underestimate the overall look of your newsletter. Take some time to pick a color scheme that’s appealing and coordinates well with your brand. Many businesses use the colors of their logo.

Take a look at a newsletter from Campaign Monitor customer, Virgin Experience Days. The company uses red, which is their main brand color, throughout the newsletter to make each offer pop.

Wrap up

These eight excellent email newsletters were all selected for a reason. Each one has something unique to teach us about creating an effective email newsletter. After all, newsletters are still one of the most relevant and engaging emails you can send.

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