Five Tips for Developing a Successful Email Newsletter

emailBy Jess Ostroff

Despite the advent of the “always-on” mentality that social media has instilled in us, email marketing is still one of the best ways to reach your audience, especially for small business.

The reasons in favor of using email newsletters as part of your marketing mix far outweigh the reasons not to, however many businesses are worried that their email marketing won’t be up to snuff.

Here are five simple ways to ensure your emails will be opened, read, and, most importantly, convert into web visits or sales.

Email: Craft a Catchy Subject Line

Like a first impression, email subject lines can make or break your open rates. As you are building out your content editorial calendar (yes, email marketing programs should have these, too), it’s important to create a subject line that begs recipients to open your email and learn more.

Consider trying your subscriber’s name, a question, a cheeky phrase, or a piece of exciting news in your subject lines. Then, monitor your analytics to see which type of subject lines work best.

Develop a Clean and Clear Design

Some email designs make your eye wander off to the next thing, and some point clearly to a specific message. Don’t make your subscribers guess what you’re trying to tell them. If you want to send a more personal note to your subscribers, consider using plain text only (no graphics).

If you want to announce an event, ensure the pertinent event information is displayed loud and clear toward the top of your email. If you’re trying to provide an update on several important things at once, consider sending separate emails about each or be sure you have a great designer who can put the pieces into a template that’s easily digestible for your readers.

There’s nothing more frustrating than looking for certain information from an email and not being able to find it. If you’re worried about it, skip the flashy graphics and get straight to the point.

Create a Targeted Message

Some of the worst email marketing I’ve seen involves off-the-wall messaging that is either completely irrelevant or completely bogus. This is an issue that can be easily solved when collecting email addresses in the beginning. Make sure you’re gathering the information you might use to target (such as zip code for geo-targeting), and be sure to attach purchase history to email contact’s information.

Don’t send blanket emails to your whole list unless you’re sure they will be relevant, and don’t send personalized product messages to people who have never bought anything from you. This may take more time, but it’s worth investing in the value of your emails to retain the trust and respect from your subscribers.

Use a Single Call-to-Action

Open me! Buy now! Click here! Calls to action help your subscriber know what to do after they read your email, but too many calls to action can confuse and frustrate subscribers. Plus, they’ll put your conversion rate in the drain. Think about what your ultimate goal for each email is before you even write it. Then, develop copy and graphics that drive your message to that singular goal. Using single-subject emails with a clear message and call-to-action are guaranteed to boost your conversion rate.


Just because you’ve followed the first four tips on this list doesn’t mean your work is done. Your subscriber preferences and the competitive landscape are constantly changing, so you need to make sure that you’re testing and adjusting with them. Here are some common elements you should be testing in your email marketing campaigns:

  • “From” name
  • Subject line
  • Time of day
  • Day of week
  • Type of message
  • Design and layout
  • Fonts and colors
  • Calls to action

You may want to test these items across your entire list if your list is small, or segment your lists into pieces. No matter how to decide to do it, make sure you only test one element at a time for accurate results.

Creating effective email newsletters isn’t hard, but it does require some careful thought and planning.

What tactics are you using to be successful in reaching your audience with email marketing?