business & marketing

5 Tips for Building a Professional Yet Effective Newsletter

April 26th, 2017

Email marketing is an exclusive communication channel with your audience, in which you contact people directly in their inbox. That’s why you want your newsletters to look professional, remain engaging, and contain reliable information. Newsletter design has a significant impact on an email campaign’s overall performance.

These statements were proven by conducting an experiment with the Kali Laine email marketing campaign. After designing a newsletter with better-focused call-to-action buttons and a different layout, the click rate increased from 0.64 percent to 2.26 percent.

So what are the main email design rules to follow so that your newsletters will look professional and achieve good results?

Rule #1. Follow Your Brand Style

A solid brand style means that your store, social media channels, emails, and other means of marketing have a similar visual appearance: they contain the same fonts, graphic elements, colors, etc. Design agencies call it “the brand book.”

Additionally, whenever you venture off into new projects, like building an app, it is important to make sure the mobile application development agency follows that brand book; digital consistency is key for a brand.

You can hire an agency to help you create a brand book for your business. However, if you think it is too early to invest in a professional brand book, I suggest that you create a simple brand style guide and follow it while creating marketing materials. You can read about the elements it should contain in the online branding ABC.

Bob Frady, CEO & Founder at HazardHub had the following comment on why a brand style is so important for your emails: “There is not enough talk about the importance of brand in email. Customers don’t sign up for email – they sign up for your brand.”

Here is an example of consistent brand style used by That Ring Shop:


5 Tips for Building a Professional Yet Effective Newsletter

Facebook profile:

5 Tips for Building a Professional Yet Effective Newsletter

Cart recovery email:

5 Tips for Building a Professional Yet Effective Newsletter

In addition, make sure all your emails (newsletters, welcome, cart recovery and other automated emails) have the similar design with the same fonts and colors. Keep it consistent.

With consistency, you also need to ensure the email provides the best user experience. Enlisting the advice and recommendations of user experience research services is one of the best ways to make sure your newsletters are readable, engaging and usable.

Rule #2. Use Visuals That Sell

Trust me, the visual attractiveness of email is crucial for strong engagement – clicks and conversion rate.

First of all, your visuals must be high-quality, because in online shopping, images are the main motivator for customers to purchase. Just think about it: while shopping online, it’s only the image and description that convinces a customer to click the “BUY” button.

Some additional hints to make your newsletters look more attractive:

● If you want to look professional, make sure your company logo is of good quality with a transparent background.

● A “hero” image with the key message following just after your logo is always a good introduction to the email.

● Whatever images you use, they have to be in the same style. Don’t mix stock photos with original photos.

● If you use a product listing, use the same size and style of images. They cannot be blurred, too dark, or of different sizes. Try to pare them down with color in the surrounding design to make the main image the central focus.

● If you take your own photos of your products, consider acquiring a portable mini studio for professional-looking photos with your camera or even smartphone.

If you do not have great photos, consider creating images using nice typography. These can replace “hero” images very well. Check out the example below.

5 Tips for Building a Professional Yet Effective Newsletter

Rule #3. Your Email Layout Should Be Simple

Your email layout mostly depends on the content you want to send to your subscribers. A multi-column layout works better to show a variety of your products. On the other hand, using a single column layout is best for more focused messages, like a flash sale. One way or another, your email layout must be mobile-friendly.

Simple rules for email layout:

● Only simple emails of up to three columns will look good on mobile devices.

● If your newsletter highlights different types of content, clearly define sections by using spacing and lines.

● Do not use a lot of content because, in the mobile version, all the images and other content will display as one narrow column, and your newsletter will become endless. No one wants to scroll forever to get to the end.

● Do not overreach with super-fancy asymmetrical email newsletter designs. In most cases, they are not mobile-friendly, so only desktop users will be able to enjoy your emails.

● Give your elements some room. Do not put them too close together.

Rule #4. Use Proper Fonts

Because of the large number of different email clients, you must choose from a list of fonts considered “safe” for use. If you choose a “safe” font, all your subscribers will see your text the same way. The most popular email-safe fonts are Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Georgia, Tahoma, Lucida, Trebuchet, and Times. You can learn more about fonts here: Email Safe Fonts vs. Custom Fonts: What You Need to Know About Them.

Speaking about the optimal text size for the email body, it is within the range of 14–16px. The 14px text option is better for longer paragraphs and 16px for a sentence or two. The headings should be bigger – within the range of 22–42px. Adapt your line height accordingly, as you do not want your texts to overlap.

But regardless of what medium you are providing text to, where it be an email or the actual webpage, hiring a UX design agency to make sure the text is readable for on both the font a size for ALL users should be a number one priority.

Rule #5. Highlight a Call-to-Action Button

Show your subscribers clearly what you want them to do in your email: visit your store, learn more, follow you on social media, etc. For this, you can link images, buttons, or text lines. Use whatever fits your purpose. But be aware of the following:

● The best call-to-action is short and clear: BUY NOW, VISIT OUR STORE, CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE, etc.

● Don’t add too many CTA buttons because readers will get lost and will not understand exactly what you want them to do. A few of them in the entire email is enough.

● The more important the CTA, the bigger it should be. Make your buttons obvious by using a different color or style, and place them carefully. Don’t forget to leave empty space around your button so it will stand out.

● Be consistent. If your subscribers are loyal readers of your newsletters, they will recognize your CTAs and always know what you want them to do.

● If your email is longer, repeat your CTA at the end of the email. Don’t force your reader to scroll all the way back to the top of the newsletter.

For more detailed tips for HTML email design, read this guide to eCommerce email marketing.

The bottom line

Building your brand identity is neither an easy nor quick task for entrepreneurs. Visual consistency among all marketing channels might help your customers to start recognizing and trusting you faster. Following the tips provided will soon yield positive results.

This is a guest post by Karolina Jasvinaitė of Soundest

Jenna Erickson


Jenna is the Marketing Manager at Codal, blogger, and technology + startup enthusiast. With a responsibility of Codal's marketing programs and brand management, she is always strategizing new ways to reach clients through content and inbound marketing tactics. In her free time, Jenna enjoys traveling, cooking and reading.


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