Hook Readers With Irresistible Newsletter Design

In the battle for inbox attention, an artfully designed newsletter is your secret weapon. Discover pro techniques to captivate subscribers and unlock more opens, clicks, and conversions.

Page Contents

Why Newsletter Design Matters More Than Ever

In the era of information overload, a well-designed newsletter is no longer a nice-to-have—it’s an essential tool for cutting through the noise and connecting with your audience. With email inboxes overflowing and attention spans shrinking, newsletter design matters now more than ever before.

Increasing Competition for Audience Attention

Let’s start with some perspective on the email marketing landscape. Over 320 billion emails are sent globally each day, with the average office worker receiving upwards of 120 emails per day. And those are just the emails users haven’t unsubscribed from or marked as spam!

With inboxes cluttered with promotions, newsletters, notifications, and more, you have maybe 2 seconds to grab your reader’s attention before they move on to the next email.

Crafting a visually compelling newsletter design is key to standing out. Just having great content isn’t enough—you need to present it in a way that immediately signals value to the reader.

Design Makes Content More Visually Compelling

Well-designed branding elements like color schemes, typography, and imagery allow readers to quickly identify your message amidst the flood of emails.

For example, a newsletter with:

  • An eye-catching hero image
  • Logo featured prominently
  • Generous use of branded colors
  • Ample white space

…is far more likely to capture interest than a text-heavy email with no graphics.

You might have the most fascinating article in your newsletter, but it likely won’t get read if the design doesn’t entice the reader to scroll down or click through.

Visuals also make your content more accessible for scanners and non-native English speakers. Breaking up blocks of text with images, pull quotes, and lists improves digestibility.

Consistency With Brand Image

Your newsletter design also plays a key role in reinforcing brand recognition and trust. Subscribers should be able to instantly identify your email as coming from your company.

Maintaining the same:

  • Color scheme
  • Logo placement
  • Tone of voice
  • Typography

…across your newsletter, website, ads, and other touchpoints strengthens familiarity with your brand.

Over time, a consistent aesthetic builds an emotional connection with your audience. It sparks familiarity and taps into the preferences of loyal subscribers.

Directing Focus to Calls-To-Action

Now more than ever, newsletter design should strategically highlight calls-to-action (CTAs) to drive conversions.

With so many distractions competing for attention, CTAs need to stand out visually on the page or screen. Some best practices include:

  • Placing CTAs above the fold so they are visible without scrolling
  • Using contrasting colors like vibrant buttons on a neutral background
  • Keeping copy short, scannable, and action-oriented
  • Repeating CTAs near the top and bottom of content

Without clear CTAs, you risk readers missing your intended goal entirely. Don’t make them work hard to find your call to action.

Optimizing for Accessibility

Finally, excellent newsletter design ensures content is accessible to all subscribers.

Nearly 20% of the population has a disability, including challenges with hearing, mobility, learning, and vision. Optimizing newsletter aesthetics allows wider audiences to consume and enjoy your content.

Some key accessibility practices:

  • Using sufficient color contrast
  • Avoiding busy background images
  • Not relying solely on color to convey meaning
  • Adding alternate text descriptions for images
  • Formatting content hierarchically

Accessible design improves the reading experience for sighted users as well. Enhanced scannability and reduced eyestrain keep all readers engaged.

In short

Newsletter design has a big impact on audience attention, brand perception, conversions, and inclusivity. With increased competition and shifting reader preferences, optimizing visual appeal is mandatory for business success.

A strategic design system makes your unique value clear at a glance. Consistency and aesthetics signal quality and authority. And accessibility opens your content to wider, more diverse audiences.

Mastering design best practices takes your newsletters from optional to essential reading material. So don’t wait—take steps now to make your next email irresistibly engaging!

Key Newsletter Design Principles

Creating a stellar newsletter design requires both art and science. You need to optimize visual appeal while also ensuring consumability, usability, and accessibility.
By following core design principles, you can craft emails that inform, delight, and motivate subscribers. Let’s explore the essential elements for engaging and effective newsletter aesthetics.

Scannability and Readability

The #1 goal of newsletter design should be enhancing scannability and readability. With very limited time to make an impression, your content needs to be quickly and easily digestible.

Use these strategies to format your content for the way people actually read emails:

Favor short paragraphs and lists

Blocks of unbroken text are daunting and difficult to scan. Paragraphs over 3-4 sentences long start to lose reader attention.

Lists break content into bite-sized bullet points that are easy to visually swallow. Different list formats like numbered steps work nicely for how-tos and processes.

Highlight key points

Draw the reader’s eye to what matters most by emphasizing important text. Some excellent ways to highlight key points:

  • Bolding key words and phrases
  • Using italics for emphasis
  • CAPITALIZING acronyms or titles
  • Underlining specific text to stand out
  • Making critical points slightly larger font

This establishes a clear visual hierarchy tuned to the way people scan text.

Use descriptive headers and subheaders

Headers not only announce topics and sections, they provide valuable context for readers who jump straight to what interests them.

Effective headers are:

  • Concise (aim for under 60 characters)
  • Informative about the content covered
  • Written with active language and relevant keywords

Include H2, H3 etc. subheaders to break up long sections and guide readers through your content.

Break up text with images

Full paragraphs of text are challenging to consume in emails. Inserting relevant graphics—like photos, data visualizations, illustrations or GIFs—makes content way more reader-friendly.

Aim to include a visual break at least every 3-4 paragraphs or list items. Consistent visual cadence keeps engagement high.

Minimize PDF attachments

Most newsletter content should be embedded inline to maximize readability. PDF report attachments are less likely to get opened or read.

If attachments are needed, include a snippet or summary in the body to provide key details.

Use color strategically

Avoid blocks of dense text in any single color, which strains reader eyes and brains.

Try alternating text colors between sections for visual variety. Or highlight key callouts in contrasting colors to make them pop.

Strategic Use of Images

Unlike websites, newsletters rely solely on imagery you embed directly in the email. Making the most of photos, graphics, and illustrations is key for engagement.

Lead with a hero image

A bold visual makes an instant impression and entices further reading. Placing an eye-catching hero image near the top gives you prime real estate to capture interest.

Ideally, the image relates to your main topic or content theme. But even an attractive lifestyle photo or branded graphic grabs attention.

Spot images inline

Sprinkling smaller spot images at strategic points enhances messaging and scannability. Look for opportunities to:

  • Introduce or highlight a new topic
  • Break up lengthy sections
  • Showcase a product or offer
  • Add humor or personality

More frequent image placement keeps energy and flow high. But stay intentional—don’t force imagery that doesn’t serve a purpose.

Include alt text

For accessibility and context, always include alt text descriptions for images. If graphics fail to load, subscribers still get the gist from your alt descriptions.

Keep alt text concise but informative. “Photo of newsletter examples” is preferable to “Image #1”.

Optimize and compress

Large file images significantly slow email loading speed, hurting open rates. Run images through optimizers to reduce file size without compromising quality.

Also compress graphics to web resolutions—no need for print quality 300 dpi images in digital newsletters.

Use original assets

When possible, incorporate branded graphics and photos over generic stock imagery. Original assets feel more authentic and reinforce brand identity.

Even budget-friendly originals like smartphone pics lend personality. Just ensure proper resolution and editing.

Intentional Typography

Typography profoundly impacts newsletter readability and aesthetics. Carefully chosen fonts and styles transform mere words into mesmerizing visual content.

Limit fonts

Too many fonts compete for attention, reducing cohesion. For most newsletters, one primary font and a secondary complementary font suffice.

Exception: Using different fonts to distinguish different types of content (like callouts or quotes) works nicely. Just be consistent across sections.

Choose easy-to-read fonts

Opt for clean, simple sans serif fonts like Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana. Serif fonts slow reading comprehension.

Only use decorative script and display fonts sparingly for headlines—they’re tough to read at text size.

Vary styles thoughtfully

Emphasize headings, subheads, and key points with bold, italics, underline, and caps. But use them selectively—overstyling creates clutter.

LEFT-aligning certain points or quotes helps them stand out from body copy.

Mind line length

Reader eyes tire when tracking across super long unbroken lines of text. Limit line length to 50-60 characters per line.

Narrower columns enhance readability. On wider formats, place text in side-by-side columns.

Watch line spacing

Dense, single-spaced body copy appears crowded and dense. Add breathing room with 1.15-1.5 line spacing.

But avoid huge 2x spacing, which disconnects lines visually. 1.5 is ideal for most fonts and sizes.

Bump size for mobile

Since mobile screens are smaller, use larger font sizes to maintain legibility. For the body, 16px is a good minimum size.

Headlines can go up to 30px+, as long as they still look proportional to body text size.

Clear Call-to-Action Placement

Beyond introducing topics, your newsletter should motivate readers to take next steps. Strategic call-to-action (CTA) placement turns passive viewers into active converters.

Spot CTAs above the fold

The most prime real estate in your newsletter is above the fold, visible without scrolling. Place your most important CTA front and center here.

Putting it lower means many on mobiles will miss it entirely. Top placement ensures maximum visibility.

Use contrasting colors

Make CTAs stand out from body copy by using high-contrast colors. Bright buttons on a neutral page background instantly grab attention.

Avoid distracting neon hues. Use colors that pop yet remain easy on the eyes.

Keep copy short and scannable

Write CTA buttons and links with concise, action-oriented language like “Download now” or “Read more.

Scannable 3-5 word copy outperforms longer descriptive sentences.

Repeat your CTA

Valuable real estate at the very bottom also warrants a CTA placement. Repeat your call to action as a final chance to convert.

Just don’t overwhelm readers with excessive CTAs—stick to one primary, plus one at the end.

Direct link CTAs

Hyperlinked text CTAs outperform generic “Click here” language. Provide clear context where readers will land.

For example, “View our newsletter archive” is superior to a vague “Learn more here”.


With over 60% of emails opened on mobile, optimizing for smaller screens is non-negotiable. But designing for mobiles doesn’t have to be difficult.

Favor single column

On cramped mobile layouts, a single central content column avoids awkward line breaks and spacing.

Multi-column designs require tightline lengths to prevent horizontal scrolling—very annoying on phones!

Check rendering before sending

Thoroughly test emails across devices before deploying to your list. Things that look perfect on desktop may break or rearrange on mobile.

Preview on actual devices if possible. Otherwise use preview modes built into most email providers.

Let images flex

When inserting images, choose “responsive” or “fluid” options so graphics dynamically size down on mobiles.

Avoid fixed width images that require horizontal scrolling.

Size text thoughtfully

As mentioned for typography, bump up font sizes for legibility on small screens. But headlines should scale down so they don’t overwhelm.

Also increase line height and watch line lengths. Both help readability.

Simplify design

Look for ways to minimize complexity like consolidating columns or removing non-critical design elements.

Slimming improves mobile experience without compromising desktop appeal.

Accessible Color Schemes

Inclusive design adapts aesthetics to meet the needs of diverse users. Following accessibility guidelines benefits all your readers.

Mind color contrast

Sufficient contrast between fonts and backgrounds prevents visually straining or illegible text, especially for low-vision readers.

Target at least 4.5:1 contrast ratio. Some handy color contrast checkers make it easy to test combinations.

Avoid color-coded meaning

Don’t convey critical information through color alone. Readers with color blindness won’t get the message.

Supplement color-coding with text descriptors, like labeling status “Pending” and “Completed” in addition to red and green.

Include alt text

As mentioned for images, quality alt text descriptions ensure graphics are digestible for subscribers using screen readers.

Avoid overly general tags like “graphic” or “newsletter image”—be specific.

Design simply

Accessible design embraces simplicity. Avoid busy backgrounds and complex multi-column layouts that make consuming content difficult.

Streamline and organize using the strategies outlined above. It benefits all subscribers.

In short

An effective newsletter balances visual appeal and usability across formats, preferences, and abilities. Master these essential principles:

  • Format content for easy scanning and reading
  • Spot quality images frequently
  • Choose typography optimized for legibility
  • Highlight CTAs in strategic locations
  • Accommodate smaller mobile screens
  • Pick inclusive color schemes and alt text

While creativity is encouraged, remember to design for your subscribers first—not solely for artistic preference. Aesthetic newsletter design provides lasting value that educates, delights, and motivates readers to take action.

Crafting Eye-Catching Headers

Your newsletter header image offers prime real estate for showcasing brand identity and visual flair. How you utilize this space can profoundly impact open rates, engagement, and overall subscriber experience.
Let’s explore expert strategies for grabbing attention with winning newsletter headers.

Include Logo for Branding

At minimum, always feature your company logo prominently in the header. Instant brand recognition establishes subscriber familiarity and trust.

Some effective logo placement options:

  • Centered large size near the top
  • Upper corner balanced with image
  • On solid color background for contrast

Maintaining logo size and placement consistency across newsletters strengthens branding over time. Just avoid letting your logo dominate the header.

Experiment with Photography

Complementing your logo with high-impact photographic visuals takes your headers to the next level.

Compelling photos offer limitless opportunities to captivate readers and reinforce content themes. Consider these tips for selection and placement:

Pick images that tell a story

Rather than random pretty pictures, choose photos that visually support newsletter topics and messaging. Reinforcing relevant themes with imagery makes your content sticky.

For example, a newsletter on seasonal recipes could feature a header photo of someone prepping food or a beautifully styled dish.

Capture lifestyle moments

Lifestyle images that embed your brand or product into real-world settings make strong connections with readers. These shots add personality and authenticity that generic stock photos lack.

Candid photos of real customers genuinely using your product make excellent lifestyle header images.

Showcase your product or offer

Product-focused visuals that spotlight your latest item, service, or special deal also lend themselves nicely to header placement.

Hero shots of a new product release or item close-ups entice clicks for details. Limited-time offers come to life in headers as well.

Try dramatic perspectives

Vary the angles and framing—a bird’s eye product view or an extreme close-up detail shot brings fresh flair over straight-on compositions.

Unconventional points of view add artistic flair while still showcasing your brand.

Go for emotion and energy

Whatever your header image, inject color, movement, or emotional connection to energize readers. Convey the excitement, joy, or inspiration your brand brings to customers’ lives.

Keep Headers Uncluttered

With prime visual real estate, you can easily overdo it on text and design details in headers. Take a minimalist approach instead.

Only include essential branding, positioning, or context to avoid cognitive overload right out of the gate. Keep things clean and breathing room generous.

Some examples of clutter to avoid:

  • Excessive text like paragraphs or bulleted lists
  • More than two fonts
  • Overlapping text and imagery
  • Too many logos or graphics
  • Complex multi-column layouts

Removing non-critical elements allows key details to shine.

Use Color and Fonts Strategically

Like all your design choices, leverage color and typography intentionally to contribute to the visual impact.

Vibrant colors that align with your brand palette make headers pop. Even basic variations like light vs dark backgrounds can dramatically change the look.

Play with different font styles and sizing for logo, tagline, or text. Find pairings that grab attention while maintaining readability.

Keep body text short, scannable phrases over lengthy sentences. Strategic use of contrasting colors also highlights important points.

Add Clickable CTA (If Relevant)

If your newsletter focuses on a specific call to action, the header presents a ripe opportunity to promote it.

For example, a limited-time sale or contest newsletter could feature a clickable “Shop now” or “Enter here” CTA button right in the header image.

Just ensure any text remains easy to read atop the photo. Keep CTAs minimal—no more than a couple concise links.

Design Experiments and Testing

The most captivating newsletter headers often come through experimentation and testing different options. Don’t be afraid to:

  • Try varied placement of logo, images, text
  • Mix up sizing, framing, and perspective on photos
  • Sample different color combinations and fonts
  • Swap background images and solid colors

What initially seems like the perfect design may fizzle with readers. Continually test new creative approaches and track open analytics to see what resonates best with your subscribers.

In nutshell

Well-designed email headers instantly signal to subscribers what your newsletter issue is all about and entices them to dive into the content. Blending vibrant visuals and thoughtful organization sets your message up for success.

Remember that headers have a job to do beyond just looking pretty. Craft them purposefully to reinforce branding, highlight special offers, set a theme, or convey a specific emotion right out the gate. Keep experimenting until you land on header formulas that consistently spur reader action.

Optimizing the Entire Newsletter

Crafting a stellar header kicks your newsletter off on the right foot. But maintaining engagement and consumability throughout the rest of the email is an equally crucial design task.
Let’s explore tips and strategies for visually optimizing the full subscriber experience beyond your snazzy header.

Structure Content in Short, Scannable Sections

To ensure your meticulously crafted content actually gets read, formatting it for easy skimming is key. Avoiding dense walls of text makes all the difference.

Some easy ways to segment info into digestible bites:

Use plenty of paragraph breaks

Paragraphs over 3-5 sentences start to lose reader momentum and focus. Try to restrict sentences per paragraph by rotating in other elements.

Vary content types

Mix up longer paragraphs with snappy callouts, lists, images, videos, quotes, and other multimedia. Text variety counteracts tunnel vision tendencies.

Spot subheaders frequently

Generous use of H2 and H3 subheadings helps guide readers and offers built-in skim points.

Think of them as mini navigation breadcrumbs—scannable markers of what info comes next.

Limit section lengths

Visually contain major subject matter in chunks under 8-10 paragraphs or list items.

Breaking into new sections gives reader eyes a welcome change of scenery.

Watch line length

On wider desktop layouts, opt for side-by-side columns to keep individual line length manageable.

Narrower measure provides critical flow rhythm attuned to our readable field of vision.

Break Up Text With Images and White Space

Speaking of visual variety, images artfully woven between text segments work magic to engage readers in long-form content.

Look for logical image insertion points

Is there a section where a visual example or analogy would enhance the explanations? Use images purposefully to illustrate key concepts.

Alternate image sides

Bouncing spot images left and right across sections adds movement and interest to multi-column designs.

Frame images generously

Give graphics room to breathe with ample margins above, below, and on both sides. Avoid awkward text wrap-arounds.

Watch image file size

Oversized uncompressed files bloat email size, slowing load time. Run optimizations before inserting.

Embrace white space

Equally as important as imagery, negative white space prevents visual fatigue and clutter.

Headlines don’t always need to run edge-to-edge. Let things center with breathing room.

Use Bullet Points and Numbered Lists

Lists condense long strings of text into scannable bite-sized bits—like little thought tapas plates! Both bullet and numbered formats work great.

Bullets for quick hits

Use bullet lists to break down disconnected but related points, tips, features, examples, etc.

Bullets suit casual or non-sequential info. They also introduce paragraph variety.

Numbers to show sequence

Ordered lists indicate stepwise processes or ranked priorities where sequence matters.

Numbering provides helpful structure for things like instructions or agendas.

Consistent styling

Keep lists looking uniform with consistent spacing between items and identical formatting.

Mixing bullets, numbers, dashes, etc. should only be done intentionally for grouping purposes.

List style compatible with brand

As always, choose list styles and marker icons that suit your brand personality and color palette.

List visuals impact scannability as much as the text itself.

Make Key Points Bold or Larger Font

Bolding strategically placed keywords and phrases within sentences helps readers instantly lock onto critical info.

Identify your most important words

First, highlight only terms essential for quickly conveying key takeaways.

Overbolding dilutes the effect to meaninglessness. Be stingy.

Visually punch them up

Try making them slightly bigger in addition to bold for extra oomph. But don’t bold entire paragraphs—that defeats the purpose.

Use in moderation

Like exclamation points, bold text packs a powerful punch when used sparingly and deliberately.

Save it for your VIP words to maximize impact. Else it becomes YELLING on the page.

Place CTA Buttons Above the Fold

This design tactic bears repeating for emphasis. Prioritize CTAs by placing them front and center—before readers need to scroll down.

Top equals visible

On cramped mobiles, stuff below the fold might as well not even exist. Give calls to action prime visibility right off the bat.

Guide eye flow strategically

Arrange page elements to lead the eye down towards CTAs. They should provide a clear next step in the visual flow.

Contrast makes them pop

Again, high contrast colors relative to the background ensure your CTAs capture reader attention. Vibrant buttons are instant magnets.

Test Different Templates and Layouts

Of course, flawlessly executing all these design details takes practice and refinement. Be ready to tweak and experiment based on how your audience responds.

Personalize templates to brand

Leverage pre-designed templates but adapt them to your specific color palette, fonts, and style for familiarity.

Ask readers their preferences

Collect feedback on layouts and visual styles. Survey directly or pay attention to engagement patterns.

Watch the analytics trends

Let opens, clicks, time-spent metrics guide you on what resonates. The data reveals subscriber preferences.

A/B test iterations

Systematically test tweaked versions against your current templates to see if engagement improves.

Know when to hit refresh

Don’t shy away from occasional template switches or redesigns to keep things feeling current. Just phase them in gradually.

In short

Designing for the entirety of your subscriber’s journey should enhance flow and reinforce your intended reader experience.

Keep these principles top of mind:

  • Chunk content into focused sections
  • Vary text with images and breathing room
  • Embrace lists and text highlighting tools
  • Lead the eye to CTAs above the fold
  • Continually test and optimize based on data

With every detail, ask what would make your content most helpful and compelling for readers. Ultimately an email is only as good as the value it provides. Prioritize subscriber needs through thoughtful design choices at each step.

Choosing the Right Images

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. For email design, make sure you pick pictures that speak volumes to support your brand storytelling.
Strategic image selection enhances subscriber engagement, retention, and action. Let’s explore how to choose newsletter photos with purpose.

Use Original Branded Images When Possible

Unique branded images feel far more authentic and connected to your company than generic stock photography. Prioritize using originals whenever you can.

Shoot lifestyle photos

Capture people interacting with your product or service in real-world settings. These images forge emotional connections.

Coordinate mini photoshoots of team members for a casual behind-the-scenes vibe.

Style product shots

Creative product photography infuses personality. Try different angles, close-ups, or artistic arrangements.

Coordinate colors and backgrounds to your brand palette for consistency.

Create custom illustrations

Hire an artist to hand draw illustrations with your brand in mind. Custom artwork feels special and memorable.

This also allows adapting visuals across campaigns while maintaining cohesion.

Take candid office photos

Unposed shots of your office environment or team offer subscribers a peek inside your world, building familiarity.

Just ensure you have permission to use photos of any employees.

Stock Photos Should Match Brand Style

When custom images aren’t feasible, carefully chosen stock photos can fill the gap. But stay brand-aligned.

Seek out style-consistent images

Browse stock libraries using keywords that match your industry, vibe, and aesthetic tastes. Downloading random pretty pictures rarely works.

Avoid overused generic images

Certain stock photos get used to death, draining impact through over-familiarity. Ask yourself: does this specific image truly represent my brand?

Style stock to fit brand

Simple post-processing edits like color filters, overlays, or text can customize stock to better suit your personality.

Don’t just insert bland unmodified images. Give them a branded facelift.

Credit properly

Always provide proper attribution for stock image creators in keeping with the source site’s license terms. This builds viewer trust.

Illustrations Can Make Content More Engaging

Artistic illustrations set an inviting mood while infusing visual flair. And they sidestep the tired stock photography trap.

Set a consistent style

Identify illustration styles that appeal to your target readers and align with your brand ethos. Reusing the same style builds cohesion.

Spot illustrations strategically

Use illustrations to reinforce concepts, enhance explanations, add a touch of whimsy, or simply provide an engaging graphic between blocks of text.

Avoid cheesy clipart

Cheap dated clipart undermines branding sophistication. Commission custom illustrations or use a stock vendor with curated high-quality art.

Illustrate your mascot or characters

If your brand has defined mascots or characters, illustrate them in your content! Subscribers will love seeing the familiar faces.

Ensure Images Are High-Resolution

Image technical quality matters. Pixilated low-res images reflect poorly on brands. Respect your readers’ discerning eyes.

Use original source files

Avoid resaving images multiple generations which degrades quality over time. Always use the highest resolution master if available.

Resize thoughtfully

When scaling down files, use bicubic resampling to smooth edges. Don’t distort aspect ratios of important subject matter.

Compress without sacrificing

Run compression or optimizations to reduce file size without noticeable quality loss. This speeds email loading.

Preview on all devices

Test image rendering across devices before sending. Zooming in should retain sharpness without obvious artifacts or noise.

Write Descriptive Alt Text for Accessibility

Visually impaired subscribers rely on alt text descriptions to understand imagery. Writing effective alt copy ensures inclusiveness.

Transcribe key details

Describe what’s in the photo beyond obvious cues inferable from context. For example, alt text for a headshot might include age, gender, ethnicity, clothing details and background setting.

Capture tone and emotion

Infuse descriptive language that relays the emotional sense of the image—is it happy and upbeat or somber and serious? Help set the scene.

Avoid generic labels

“Image of people at conference” is pretty useless. Be specific about the meaningful details shown.

Keep it concise

Alt text works best in short 2-3 sentence blurbs. Be succinct but precise.

In short

Choosing the right supporting visuals directly impacts how your narrative resonates with readers. Original, high quality, descriptive images reinforce messaging and demonstrate your commitment to subscribers.

Always communicate visually with purpose. Let every visual element enhance and magnify—not obscure—the story you want to tell.

Writing Compelling Content

Beyond dazzling design, a newsletter lives and dies by its content. Writing compelling copy that engages readers and provides real value is what transforms an email blast into a beloved subscriber ritual.
Let’s explore techniques for creating must-read newsletter content your audience craves.

Educational, Valuable Info Builds Trust

Readers have come to expect overly promotional messaging from company newsletters. Break their skepticism by focusing content on educating over selling.

Share expertise

Position yourself as an industry thought leader by sharing insider tips, data-driven insights, and actionable best practices. Become readers’ trusted advisor.

Take a creative angle

Inject intrigue by exploring amusing observations or unusual perspectives on common topics to pique reader curiosity.

Curate relevant stories

Link to or summarize trending news, controversies, and happenings that tie back to your niche. Act as curator of all things related to your industry.

Spotlight customers

Publish user-submitted reviews, success stories, or case studies from clients demonstrating real-world application.

Provide how-tos

Explain step-by-step processes, behind-the-scenes looks, and guides for using your type of product or service. How-tos build confidence.

Avoid Excessive Product Promotion

Resist making every newsletter a product-pushing ploy. Overtly selling nonstop undermines relationship-building.

Dedicate a section

Quarantine promotions into a clearly marked standalone section like “New releases” or “Deals”. Avoid letting it dominate content.

Spread promos out

Max one product highlight per issue. Give other value-focused stories the spotlight in between promo features.

Soft sell through storytelling

Mention products contextually through stories versus direct ad copy. For example, have customers explain how a product solved their problems.

Focus on reader benefits

Discuss what the product enables readers to accomplish over laundry listing specifications and features. Talk benefits over features.

Infuse Brand Personality in Copy

Don’t sanitize every written word. Let your brand personality and voice shine through. A little flair goes a long way.

Establish a conversational tone

Write like you’re speaking to a friend. Warm, natural language forges personal connections.

Share your origin story

Reveal humble roots, founding principles, or growth journeys to humanize your brand.

Use humor when suitable

Know your audience. For some, lighthearted jokes or self-deprecating wit establishes likability. But stay on-brand.

Highlight shared values

Connect ideals meaningful to readers like sustainability, inclusion, or community. Share your “why”.

Include Links to Related Content

Expand value by linking out to relevant resources like blog posts, case studies, and product websites to extend learning.

Jog memory on past issues

Reflecting on past articles or newsletters provides helpful context and keeps your knowledge-sharing mission front of mind.

Upsell your blog

Sharing around a common theme? Excerpt part of a related blog post and entice readers to click through to your site to finish reading.

Link to external experts

Cite or quote outside experts and include attribution links back to their sites or relevant work. This demonstrates your connectedness to the field.

Watch self-promotional balance

Include a healthy mix of internal and external content links versus just links back to your own blog or website. The latter comes off overly self-serving.

Make Text Easy to Scan With Headers

As outlined in design, using ample headers ensures text is easy to scan in addition to addressing structure.

Organize topics logically

Use headers to chop content into logical sections that build on one another. This creates flow and progression.

Label sections informatively

More than just labeling “Section 1”, craft descriptive headers that summarize the essence of what’s covered. They act like signposts for scanners.

Match heading sizes to hierarchy

Headings help distinguish what matters most. Use H2 for main sections, H3 for subsections, H4 for deeper nested topics.

Highlight with styles

Format headers differently from body fonts through variations of size, color, caps, italics, or weight. This further accentuates structure.

In short

Compelling copy entices readers down the page while offering tangible value. Check any overt corporate motivations at the door and focus your content on being the most helpful, insightful, or entertaining part of your subscribers’ inbox experience.

Building in Engagement

In the era of bite-sized social content, holding reader attention for newsletter length requires extra effort. Thoughtfully incorporating interactive or contribution-based elements keeps audiences leaning in.
Let’s look at some creative ways to bake more engagement into your email issues.

Interactive Content Like Quizzes or Polls

Who doesn’t love a simple quiz or poll to liven things up? Interactive content rewards readers for participating, satisfying our innate curiosity.

Embed quizzes

Insert a quick multiple choice or short answer quiz relating to the topic covered.

This could be testing retention on facts shared or getting readers’ opinions on debate prompts relevant to your niche.

Poll for feedback

Ask for quick reader feedback on a product feature, business decision, or industry trend—include a simple A/B or multi-choice poll with live results.

The direct engagement makes readers feel heard.

Use branching logic

Advance polls and quizzes take personalization up a notch by displaying different followup questions based on a person’s response.

This creates a customized experience.

Relate interactives to CTAs

Structure quizzes and polls to lead into your call to action seamlessly. For example, a newsletter on email automation tools could quiz readers on their familiarity then offer a tip sheet download for those less experienced.

Leverage User-Generated Content

Sharing contributions from your readers, customers and fans makes loyalists feel special while adding authenticity.

Spotlight social shares

Many brands invite custom hashtagged Insta takes or TikToks on themes related to their products or services. Showcasing favorites gives readers creative inspiration.

Create a “Fan Spotlight”

Collect and feature standout user reviews, testimonials, or creative adaptations of your product from around the web. People love seeing themselves or their content get featured.

Curate their best FAQs

Keep tabs on common reader FAQs in your support channels and publish curated compilations in your newsletter with helpful answers. Readers appreciate seeing their peers’ concerns addressed.

Share crowdsourced hacks or tips

Solicit “life hacks” or timesaving tips related to your product niche from readers to share the very best crowd-wisdom in your newsletter. User-curated content at its finest.

Ask Questions to Prompt Comments

Simple yet effective: directly prompting readers with smart questions ties into our natural inclination to have an opinion.

Ponder ethical dilemmas

For publishers or brands focused on social good, pose thoughtful ethical or moral questions that relate to your industry. This stimulates reflection.

Ask for their #1 tip

Everyone loves sharing their personal secrets to success. Invite readers to comment with their single best tip related to your niche.

Poll on preferences

Survey readers on subjective preferences like favorite product flavors, playlist songs, outfits, or apps related to your brand. Compare opinions.

Inquire on experiences

Posing open-ended experience questions like “what was your first job interview like?” allows readers space to share their personal stories.

Share Behind-the-Scenes Videos

Video offers an intimate look into your world. Producing BTS or “day in the life” style videos for your newsletter cultivates brand attachment.

Film processes or routines

Showcase special workflows, manufacturing secrets, creative systems or unique office rituals not accessible to the public. Pull back the curtain.

Spotlight team members

Man-on-the-street style bios help readers get to know the faces behind your brand on a personal level. Let employees share what inspires them.

Capture events or conferences

Attend a live conference or event? Compile VIP fan footage of highlights, learnings, or key takeaways to share the experience virtually.

Share factory or kitchen tours

For product-based brands, walkthroughs of your facilities or headquarters give inside access of how the magic happens. Fans eat this up!

In nutshell

Standard company newsletters easily slip into predictability. Keep your audience leaning in by strategically integrating interactive content, user contributions, thought-provoking questions, and video.

Reader participation cultivates community and brand affinity beyond simple consumption. Experiment to find which engagement types resonate most with your subscribers.

Optimizing Deliverability

You could craft the most stunning, engaging email imaginable, but none of that matters if your newsletter never makes it to subscribers’ inboxes. Mastering deliverability best practices ensures your messages get seen.
Let’s explore key strategies for improving email open rates by overcoming spam filters and inbox algorithms.

Follow Best Practices for Subject Lines and Preheaders

Subject lines and previews make first impressions on subscribers scrolling their inbox. Optimizing these critical elements is deliverability 101.

Subject Line Tips

Your subject line makes or breaks whether an email gets opened. Design yours for maximum impact:

  • Limit to 30-50 characters
    Extended lengths get truncated on mobiles. Be scannably concise.
  • Use emotional keywords
    Phrases like “Exclusive Offer” or “Hilarious Story” build irresistible intrigue.
  • Try different formats like questions
    Compelling questions tease content and prompt opens. Get creative.

Preheader Best Practices

Previews provide extra context on subject lines. Take advantage with smart preheader tactics:

Check Mobile and Desktop Rendering

With varying screen sizes and email clients, thoroughly test rendering across devices before sending your newsletter.

  • Preview on smartphones
    Side-by-side columns or large images may not flow right on mobiles.
  • Review different email clients
    Default fonts or spacing may vary in Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo.
  • Send test emails
    Have team members or customers evaluate and report back any formatting issues.

Flawless rendering reduces the risk of your email being misclassified as spam due to wonky display.

Avoid Spam Trigger Words

Specific words clue filters in on potentially suspicious emails. Eliminate these spam offenders from subject lines and copy.

Words to Avoid

  • Excessive punctuation!!!
  • Clickbait terms: “you won’t believe”, “don’t miss”
  • Money language: “free”, “prize”, “cash”, “deal”
  • Unsubscribe variations: “opt out”, “unsubscribe”
  • Suspicious spelling: “v!agra”, “va22gra”

Check Against Databases

Use online spam word checkers to screen your content for risky language before sending. This catches any innocent offenders.

Enable Opt-Out and Unsubscribe

Giving subscribers clear paths to opt out may seem counterintuitive. But this control builds trust and keeps your list clean.

  • Link at top and bottom
    Include opt-out or unsubscribe links prominently at both the header and footer.
  • Use clear copy
    Say plainly “click here to unsubscribe” or “opt out of future emails”.
  • Ensure it works
    Test to confirm your unsubscribe link works instantly. A broken opt-out screams spam.
  • Respect preferences
    If someone opts out, immediately cease sending them all emails. No exceptions.

Spam Reduction Checklist

Run through this checklist to identify any deliverability gaps before scheduling your next newsletter send:

  • [ ] Concise, compelling subject line
  • [ ] Clear, value-focused preheader
  • [ ] Consistent branding and formatting
  • [ ] No spammy language
  • [ ] Test rendering across devices
  • [ ] Functional unsubscribe link
  • [ ] Segment contacts by engagement

Checkboxes help summarize key steps!

Optimizing Your Overall Deliverability Approach

Beyond specific email tactics, your overall email habits impact sender reputation. Adopt deliverability best practices across the board:

  • Maintain list quality
    Promptly remove hard bounces and unsubscribed contacts. Keep your list clean.
  • Segment by engagement
    Avoid sending hyper-engaged and inactive contacts the exact same content. Personalize based on past behavior.
  • Limit email frequency
    Let subscribers control preferences, and throttle broadcasts based on their typical open rates.
  • Monitor spam complaints
    Track feedback loops and complaints in your email tools. Quickly resolve legitimate spam reports.
  • Use engagement-based automations
    Trigger emails based on specific subscriber actions rather than batch blasting your entire list.
  • Actively grow your list
    Prioritize double opt-in and other confirmed growth tactics over buying email lists of unknown quality.

Key Deliverability Takeaways

With a crowded inbox landscape, you can’t afford to treat deliverability as an afterthought. Dial in your email reputation using these core strategies:

  • Perfect subject lines, previews and rendering
  • Write reader-friendly copy that avoids spam
  • Make unsubscribing easy
  • Continually fine-tune your overall approach

Don’t let deliverability issues sabotage your email success. A sound reputation means more subscribers reached and business growth unlocked.

Testing and Optimization

They say “perfect is the enemy of good”. The same wisdom applies to newsletter design. Avoid seeking theoretical perfection—instead, embrace continual testing and data-driven refinements.
Let’s explore key optimization practices that move the needle on subscriber engagement.

A/B Test Subject Lines and Designs

Try not to fall in love with any newsletter element. A/B testing alternatives objectively reveals what resonates best with your audience.

Test Subject Line Variants

Subject lines make or break opens. Test adjustments like:

  • Emotional keywords
  • Adding emojis
  • Asking questions
  • Referencing content

See if certain tactics consistently lift open rates.

Experiment With Design Options

Test layout, copy, and creative variations:

  • Hero image style and position
  • Short vs. long form content
  • List vs paragraph formats
  • Primary CTA placement
  • Email structure like multi-column

Iterate to find the optimal mix based on performance data.

Track Open and Clickthrough Rates

Monitoring your email analytics provides the feedback loop to refine what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to:

Overall Open Rates

This top-level metric indicates whether your subject lines and preview text inspire opening. Shoot for above 20%.

Clickthrough Rates

Click rate on key content links or CTAs shows if your design and copy convince readers to take action. Benchmark at 2-5%.

Read Time

Average time spent reading reflects content relevancy. Short times may signal poor structure or value.

Monitor Unsubscribe and Complaints

The inverse metrics indicating dissatisfaction are just as important for honing your approach.

Unsubscribe Rate

A spike may signal over-communication or content missing the mark. Strive to keep under 0.2%.

Spam Complaints

Complaint feedback identifies deliverability issues needing correction like bad sender reputation. goal: 0%.

Bounce Rate

High hard bounces could mean a bad list. Keep under 2%.

Adjust Frequency and Timing Based on Data

There are no one-size-fits-all “right” cadence and send times. Let data guide your decisions.

Test Different Frequencies

Try sending daily, twice weekly, weekly, bi-weekly, etc. More engaged segments may digest more frequent content.

Experiment With Days and Times

Try Tuesdays vs. Fridays or morning vs. evenings. Day and time preferences vary across demographics.

Ask Readers Their Preferences

Survey subscribers directly on ideal send frequency and times. Let them guide you.

Automate Based on Activity

Use behavioral data like website visits to trigger relevant content automatically instead of batch sends.

Key Optimization Takeaways

Set your newsletter up for continuous improvement by embracing experimentation, tracking engagement metrics, and soliciting reader feedback. Keep this optimization loop top of mind:

  • A/B test new approaches regularly
  • Monitor analytics to identify high- and low-performing elements
  • Listen to subscriber preferences
  • Use data insights to adjust strategy

Avoid formulaic repetition. Let real performance shape your newsletter’s continual evolution.

Tools and Templates to Streamline Design

Between ideation, writing, graphic design, deliverability checks, and analytics—producing a polished newsletter requires some tech firepower.
Let’s explore helpful tools and templates for accelerating your newsletter workflow.

Drag-and-Drop Editors

User-friendly drag-and-drop email editors allow design tweaking without coding skills. Intuitive WYSIWYG interfaces make light work of creative layouts.

Key Features

  • Customizable templates
  • Image and text insertion
  • Element alignment and spacing
  • Styling like colors and fonts
  • Mobile responsive designs

Top Pick

Mystrika’s editor enables gorgeous email design through an intuitive editor and pre-built templates. Plus advanced automation.

Customizable Templates

Professionally designed email templates provide a running start on newsletter creation. Tweak to your brand in minutes.

Streamline with Templates

  • 100+ template options
  • Cohesive branded look
  • Adaptable layouts
  • Time savings over building from scratch

Top Picks

  • HubSpot’s extensive free template library
  • Campaign Monitor’s gallery of responsive templates
  • Email on Acid’s templates designed for high deliverability

Image Editors and Generators

Visually enhance your newsletter images with user-friendly editing tools. Many are free!

Top Tools

  • Canva: All-in-one graphic design suite
  • Pablo: Social media image creator
  • Adobe Express: Streamlined creative editing
  • PhotoPea: Free browser Photoshop alternative
  • RemoveBG: Auto background remover for images

Explore the options to find your perfect image workflow.

Email Testing and Analytics

Pre-send testing and post-send stats reveal how to improve engagement and deliverability.

Testing Tools

Analytics Platforms

  • Mystrika: Powerful email metrics and insights
  • MailChimp: Popular email marketing platform with robust reporting
  • MailerLite: Affordable email tool with analytics

Testing before sending and monitoring performance after avoids preventable missteps.

Key Advantages of Newsletter Tools

Email design tools offer a multitude of advantages:

  • Accelerate design with pre-built templates
  • Enable gorgeous styling without coding
  • Streamline image editing and creation
  • Identify deliverability issues pre-send
  • Provide data and insights to optimize

Leveraging the right platforms saves time, amplifies creative possibilities, and sets your newsletter up for success.


With the help of the user-friendly platforms highlighted here, anyone can craft captivating, high-performance newsletters. Template-driven drag-and-drop editors put polished design at your fingertips.

And analytics tools provide the data you need to continually refine and connect with readers, driving results with every send.

The technology is here to make newsletter domination attainable for all. Capitalize on the tools available to unlock the full potential of your email campaigns.


Creating visually compelling and delightfully consumable newsletters is an art and science. By following core design principles and deliverability best practices, any brand can develop captivating emails their audience looks forward to engaging with.
Here are the key takeaways to mastering newsletter design in 2023:

  • Structuring scannable content makes every word count. Use short paragraphs, ample headers, and visual variety.
  • Strategic imagery supports messaging and brand identity. Original photos make more impact than stock.
  • Typography has immense influence on readability and hierarchy. Choose easy-reading fonts and styles purposefully.
  • Distinctive headers grab attention while setting themes. Keep them focused and consistent with minimal clutter.
  • Layout impacts readership across devices. Favor single columns and scale imagery responsively.
  • CTAs should be prominently highlighted to prompt action. Repeat your core call to action above the scroll.
  • Educational, non-promotional content builds community and trust over time. Avoid hard sells in every issue.
  • Interactivity, user contributions and multimedia boost engagement. Add polls, user-generated content and video.
  • Monitor open rates, click metrics and complaints. Use the data to continually adapt and optimize performance.

With a strategy centered around reader value, stunning aesthetics, frictionless usability and analytics-driven refinement, your newsletter will become a beloved touchpoint subscribers eagerly anticipate.

Apply the principles and examples detailed here as guides—then make each issue distinctly your own. Soon your newsletter will be the reliable highlight of inboxes everywhere, delivering smiles and value every send.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some best practices for designing a newsletter?

Some key newsletter design best practices are:

  • Break up content into short, scannable sections
  • Use ample headlines, bullet points, and lists
  • Include high-quality, relevant images
  • Ensure strong visual hierarchy focusing on key points
  • Place important CTAs prominently above the fold
  • Format content cleanly with white space
  • Choose easy-to-read fonts and typography
  • Optimize for mobile responsiveness
  • Test rendering on different devices

How can I make my newsletter stand out?

To make your newsletter stand out, focus on:

  • Crafting a compelling, benefit-focused headline
  • Using eye-catching photographic or illustrative visuals
  • Injecting brand personality through tone, humor, or inside references
  • Encouraging engagement with questions, polls, or interactive content
  • Sharing exclusive insider tips, data, or behind-the-scenes looks
  • Ensuring excellent deliverability practices to reach inboxes
  • Monitoring metrics and iterating on high-performing approaches

What makes for an effective newsletter header?

An effective newsletter header includes:

  • Prominent branding like your logo
  • High-quality images supporting content themes
  • Minimal additional text – keep things clean
  • Strategic use of color, fonts, and imagery
  • Direct readers to a clear CTA if relevant
  • Engaging photography from real-life settings
  • Consistent placement and design across issues

How often should you send newsletters?

Ideal newsletter frequency depends on your industry and audience. Test different cadences and watch engagement metrics to identify the best frequency. More engaged audiences may appreciate weekly or bi-weekly issues. For less disrupted industries, monthly is commonly well-received. Ask subscribers directly about their preferences too.

What tools can help create better newsletters?

Handy tools for building better newsletters include:

  • Templates with pre-designed layouts and styles
  • Drag-and-drop editors for visually designing emails
  • Email testing tools to catch issues pre-send
  • Image editors to create custom graphics and illustrations
  • Analytics to monitor performance and engagement

Leveraging the right tools can vastly amplify creative possibilities and optimization.

What makes an email newsletter successful?

A successful newsletter:

  • Captures attention with irresistible subject lines and previews
  • Uses stunning design and visuals optimized for all devices
  • Provides educational, non-promotional value to readers
  • Formats content for easy skimming with ample visual variety
  • Highlights relevant, timely industry insights and trends
  • Encourages meaningful engagement with interactive elements
  • Speaks in an authentic brand voice readers identify with
  • Continuously improves based on reader feedback and metrics

By focusing on creating value, visual appeal, and engaging experiences for subscribers, your newsletter will foster loyal, eager audiences over the long term.