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12 Design Elements Crucial for a Newsletter’s Success

Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber

How many newsletters in your inbox do you actually plan to read? It can be difficult to get a sense of which branded emails are worth opening when your inbox feels like a black hole. And while brands can’t exactly control open rates, there are ways to increase the chances of more open and click rates.

We asked 12 entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to name one design element that is crucial for a business newsletter’s success. Their best answers are below.

1. Branded Subject Line

Strong branding in the “from” field and subject line. I get too much spam, and unless I recognize who it is from, I delete it without opening it. – Murray NewlandsInfluence People

2. Mobile-Friendly

Most newsletters are overly designed with lots of images, colors and sometimes varying fonts. The problem is that these emails are difficult to read on phones, which is where most email is consumed. You should always test your newsletters on phones, and make sure that it's easy-to-read. You'll have a leg up on your competitors. – Bhavin ParikhMagoosh Inc

3. Opt-In Form

No matter how much you optimize the design of the newsletter template, the one design element that's crucial for your newsletter's success is the opt-in form that you use to collect emails. With a good opt-in form, you can increase your email subscribers and segment them in targeted groups to have the best open rate, click rate and conversion rate. – Syed BalkhiOptinMonster

4. Consistent Branding

It’s easy to forget that behind short-term call to actions are long-term branding campaigns. Every newsletter should fall within the bounds of a larger effort to broadcast your brand. – Sam SaxtonSalter Spiral Stair and Mylen Stairs

5. Clear Call to Action

Develop a single overarching message and one call to action that you want everyone who receives the newsletter to come away with. Then work backwards from there to develop a newsletter that accomplishes those two goals. – Jake KloberdanzONEHOPE Inc

6. Share Buttons

Make it easy for the recipients of your business newsletter to share the content with their colleagues through one-click buttons for email forwarding, LinkedIn and Twitter posting. Business emails don't have to be too dry or technical to share. Often, when we send an email with a report or other insights, brand professionals want to send it to their colleagues. So make it simple to do so. – Doreen BlochPoshly Inc

7. Specialized Targeting

Newsletters are an effective marketing tool, so designing them right is crucial. Instead of sending the same newsletter to all customers, you have to create personas and tailor the images and graphics of your newsletter to each persona. This more targeted approach will help increase conversion. – Randy RayessVenturePact

8. Click-Worthy Subject Line

Whenever we send out newsletters to our customers, we always make sure to have a hook in the subject line drawing attention to content we think is most appealing. Most of the time, our newsletters are about new deals and discounts that we offer every week. Make sure that along with a good hook, you also have great, engaging content to back it up so it doesn’t turn into mere click bait. – Firas KittanehAmerisleep

Related Article: Trends in Email Marketing

9. Effective Template

Using an effective template is crucial for a business newsletter's success. Every issue of the newsletter should have a consistent format. That means that your logo, contact info, and all other elements should be in the same place every time so that your subscribers can easily locate your content and pay close attention to it. – Vladimir GendelmanCompany Folders, Inc

10. Visuals

Being an infographic company, we always recommend going more visual than text heavy. People are just not reading anymore, or at least not like they used to. Spruce up your newsletter with as many visuals as possible, tie in some infographic components where you have stats and figures, and try to break up the long blocks of text. – Justin BeegelInfographic World, Inc

11. Unsubscribe Button

Make removing their email address very easy or face being permanently blocked from all future emails of any kind. Users want to know that a brand contacting them has ethics and isn't trying to make list removal a difficult task. Be mindful of this when you're doing mass email messages. You can be creative with the list remove button, but it has to be clear for all involved where it is. – Robby HillHillSouth

12. Feedback Loop

Understanding what your customers want is the key to maximizing open and click rates. It's important to get feedback from your subscribers to ensure you are delivering the content they want. If someone unsubscribes, find out why and do something about it. Engage by asking readers to submit questions and providing answers in the next newsletter, or conduct surveys and show real-time results. – Stephen UffordTrulioo

Image Credit: Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber Member
Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Gerber is also a serial entrepreneur, regular TV commentator and author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job.