Email newsletters – 9 best practices
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Nothing about email marketing is static because ESP technology, inbox providers, and most importantly, people’s behaviors are constantly changing. This change extends to the email newsletter, a mainstay of B2B marketing.
To get an idea of the latest newsletter trends, I spoke with our Creative Services and B2B teams here at Oracle Marketing Consulting about what they were doing when they revamped our clients’ newsletters.
Here are their top recommendations. Consider them your guide to new best practices for email newsletters.
1. Use Single Column Layouts
Although a two-column layout allows you to get more content on one page, these emails are difficult to read, especially on mobile. Single-column content is better on the eyes, easier to scroll, and easier to adapt to mobile devices.
2. Adopt a modular messaging architecture
Using a flexible modular build system rather than a rigid template for each type of email you send typically reduces email build times for our customers by 25-40%. But a modular system also makes A/B testing, template maintenance, and customization easier.
3. Personalize newsletter content
B2B marketers are jumping on the personalization bandwagon. “Newsletter senders either use what their subscribers click on to determine what content they offer in the next newsletter, or they allow recipients to subscribe to various topics in a preference center, giving them full control what they see in each issue,” said Jessica Stamer, consulting technical lead at Oracle Marketing Consulting.
4. Tease newsletter content
In addition to forcing marketers to adopt alternatives to open-triggered journeys, Apple’s email privacy protection emphasizes click generation, as it has made opens a unreliable engagement signal. This reinforced the tendency to tease website content and accelerated the end of the inclusion of full article content in the newsletter itself.
Test functional CTA text like “Read more” and “Read full article” against benefit-focused CTAs like “Optimize your landing pages” and “Protect your business” to see what your audience prefers .
5. Create Reading Magnets (AKA Scroll Magnets)
Brands determine what their most popular content is and then place it at the bottom of their newsletters. By promoting this content in their subject line and perhaps also in a table of contents, it encourages subscribers to scroll, which exposes them to all the other content in the newsletter.
6. Make your designs inclusive and accessible
Brands are making their posts more user-friendly for followers with a wider range of abilities, as well as followers in a wider range of circumstances and environments.
“I see more focus on accessibility, like making sure all images have alt tags and doing things like bold and highlighting the connections,” says Deanna Ogle, senior B2B consultant at Oracle Marketing Consulting. “When it comes to styling, good line height, larger font sizes and clear call-to-action buttons also contribute positively.
7. Differentiate your sender names
If you send different newsletters or different types of emails under your subscriptions, clearly indicate these differences in the name of the sender. MarketingProfs does a fantastic job of this; it uses sender names such as MarketingProfs Today, MarketingProfs Events, MarketingProfs Resources, and MarketingProfs Update, the latter for sponsored posts.
8. Write descriptive subject lines
Issue numbers and subject lists are now common in newsletter subject lines. Simple subject lines are user-friendly, helping subscribers identify your newsletter and understand what to expect when they open it.
9. Borrow from B2C email designs
Newsletters are shedding their long tradition of text-heavy content blocks. “For newsletters, as well as other B2B emails, we’re seeing bolder uses of color, more Google and hosted fonts, streamlined copy balanced with images and animations, and more fluid shapes in the layout to create fewer boxes and more interesting designs,” says Nick Cantu, Associate Creative Director for Creative Services at Oracle Marketing Consulting. “These are well-established design elements among our B2C clients.”
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Together, these new best practices make newsletters cleaner, more engaging, more subscriber-friendly, and ultimately more effective.
More resources on email newsletter best practices
How to Send a Newsletter (PDF by Ann Handley)
How Email Newsletters Can Solve Marketers’ Content and Trust Issues: Three Sets of Best Practices
Building your email newsletter is a marathon, not a sprint
How to Create an Email Newsletter That Gets Marketing Results