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5 easy tips for an optimal newsletter layout

5 easy tips for an optimal newsletter layout

Posted 15th January, 2019 by Aidan

Despite the seemingly limited layout options, email structure can make or break your click-through rates (CTRs) and overall conversions. The limitations, combined with the potential impact on metrics, means getting your newsletter layout right can be tough.

However, the good news is that you’re not constrained by the tools at your disposal. This is because much of the art of optimising a newsletter is down to the way you structure and present the content within.

In this article, we'll look at some tips for creating an optimal newsletter layout. However, before that, let’s quickly run through some of the overall considerations when running your newsletter.

A quick primer on your newsletter’s purpose

Many people who set up a newsletter have only one thing on their mind: pound signs. However, this isn’t the best way to approach such a project.

While promoting your business within your newsletter will be a primary concern for you, you need to keep in mind that it’s actually a secondary consideration for the subscriber. To understand this, consider how your reader will approach your newsletter.

They’ve already entered your sales funnel by signing up to the newsletter. This means they’re already a conversion to a certain extent. They don’t necessarily care about this though. What they care about most is receiving helpful or useful information relating to your business. The last thing they want is the hard sell or spam.

So, when you’re approaching compiling your newsletter, it’s best to think of your subscribers as a captive audience of interested followers rather than merely customers.

5 tips for an optimal newsletter layout

Let’s now dig into a few ways you can optimise your newsletter layout.

These tips aren’t presented in any particular order, so feel free to jump around the article. However, we do recommend reading every tip as there’s always the potential to learn something new.

1. Take cues from other optimal content styles

Sometimes you’ve got to think outside of the box. When it comes to newsletters, you can often look at other content formats to find inspiration.

For example, you’ll want to ‘front load’ your newsletter, much like journalistic pieces. This means putting the most prominent content first, then experimenting with the placement of your call to action (CTA). Landing pages put this right at the top, although you’ll need to experiment to find what works best for you.

One type of content you won’t want to follow is a blog post. Open rates for email newsletters hover between 20 and 25 per cent, which means, unless your audience is highly targeted and interested in long-form content, your word count should be slim. Speaking of which, let’s discuss this further.

2. Keep your layout simple and focused

This tip is arguably just as applicable to full websites, but it’s especially vital for newsletters. As we’ve mentioned, you should create a simple and direct layout to avoid cluttering your subscribers’ viewing panes.

We’ve already touched on your newsletter being short-form, so keep your letters concise and focus on highlighting the most important points.

In addition, give prominence to calls to action and images.

3. Create the right balance between your text and images

When it comes to images, you may be surprised to learn that you actually stand to benefit by keeping their inclusion to a minimum. This is because images can actually be distracting and may even harm the reading experience on certain devices.

We’d even argue that images aren’t even required if your basic design is good. However, there’s an important exception to this – eCommerce sites – as images are central to increasing conversions in their case.

For most newsletters, a simple version of your logo at the top could suffice, though. We suggest starting here, then experimenting with further images if you feel they may be required. You’ll soon get a feel for whether their inclusion is too prominent, and may even glean insight from your metrics.

4. Design with a ‘mobile-first’ philosophy

Creating a layout based around optimal viewing on smaller screens is likely something you’re familiar with when it comes to websites. However, you’ll also want to consider this when designing your newsletter.

We’ve now reached the tipping point when it comes to the balance between mobile and desktop browsing figures. Right now, more users browse using mobile devices than desktops. Of course, by not taking this into account, you're potentially losing subscribers.

Fortunately, most providers (such as MailChimp and AWeber) provide mobile-friendly layouts as standard. However, you’ll want to double-check whether any bespoke HTML or elements make the transition correctly. If you’re using templates, you’ll also want to confirm whether specific elements are displayed consistently across devices.

5. Make sure your colour and font choices are ‘on-brand’

Our final tip is a simple one. In a nutshell, your newsletter is an extension of your overall brand. Therefore, having a newsletter layout that doesn’t fit in with your overall brand identity could potentially confuse your readership.

The key here is to make sure that there is complete parity between your newsletter and other aspects of your branding. This is important because even a slightly different colour scheme or font choice could be enough to make your newsletter look unprofessional.

There’s one caveat here, in that some providers may not provide the correct fonts. In these cases, keeping to a highly readable ‘system’ or default fonts will likely do just as well. You may want to look at whether your preferred provider will let you upload web fonts, so that there’s consistency between different end user email providers.

Conclusion

There may be a wealth of ways to build and optimise a website, but the scope for doing the same with a newsletter is more limited. However, this means you’ll want to fall back on evergreen tactics to keep your CTR high.

In this post, we’ve looked at five of these tips, so let’s recap them quickly:

  1. Look at how other content types structure a layout, and steal the optimal bits.
  2. Keep the layout and content simple, focused, and direct.
  3. Use images sparingly, although the right image placed correctly can enhance your newsletter.
  4. Make sure your newsletter works just as well on smaller screens as it does on desktops. This is vital, given the prominence of mobile browsing.
  5. Match your newsletter branding exactly to your overall brand colour and font choices, in order to maintain consistency across all platforms.

Categories: Tips, Marketing, Small Businesses, Email

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