Alecs is our Client Accounts Manager and a ten-year-veteran copywriter.
Email newsletters have been around for a long time, as a successful means of helping businesses communicate with their customers.
When email introduced a new dimension to the traditional newsletter, it instantly became more marketable in the twenty-first century.
Not all newsletters are great, entertaining reads, however. As someone who enjoys reading and learning from what I read, a newsletter gives me a valuable resource. Sadly not many companies that create newsletters do that with information in mind.
Developing a Great Email Newsletter: 15 Keys to the Castle
One of the key things about creating a great newsletter is that the information contained therein should be mostly informative. The content in your newsletter is an extension of the content that you create for your blog or website. This content has to be entertaining and engaging. Newsletters that don’t perform as well as they should forget this one overarching idea: that content is value and value is what sells.
Let’s take a look at some of the more impressive email newsletters that have managed to make their way (and keep making their way) into my inbox.
1. The Skimm: Having information given to you in easily readable, bite-sized chunks is the aim of most content marketing. Less is more, since content seems to be downsizing. The Skimm builds a newsletter that embraces this trend by giving you all the news you need to know about in short, concise bursts. You don’t even need to click out of the email to be fully informed about what’s going on. As a newsletter, it brings immense value to the table in a nice, simple, clean layout that doesn’t distract from the story elements of the news. The stories make for viable inspiration for your own blog posts as well.
2. Community.is: This newsletter tries to fit into a number of molds at the same and time and manages to do so pretty well surprisingly. As a newsletter that is designed to “put people at the center of their work”, they have a wide and varied audience. Their unique combination of short, medium and long form content appeals to their different demographics really efficiently. This allows their newsletter to be properly organized without seeming confusing at all. When you’re trying to hit such a wide audience, that in itself is a task, but this newsletter accomplishes it easily.
3. Food Safety Update: A B2B email newsletter doesn’t need a flashy title and Food Safety Update’s title is relatively bland. When you take a look at their layout and content, however, you realize that the title is misleading. The content is organized into easily digestible chunks that are well-labeled, ensuring that you can find what you’re looking to read up on. Interspersed throughout the journal are thumbnails that help to break up the text and add flavor to the layout itself. Handy social sharing options allow for easy dissemination of articles you like and unsubscribing is pretty simple as well, although after you’ve read it you’d wonder why anyone would want to.
4. Austin Kleon: Minimalistic design has always been something that appeals to a lot of modern users. Austin Kleon’s newsletter goes into the minimalist design with great intentions and manages to be successful with its mix of simple design and informative writing. The thing that is most impressive about it is the tone. Reading this newsletter has a quaint, almost homey feel. It’s almost like getting a letter from a friend you haven’t seen in a while. This is probably the most impressive accomplishment of this newsletter, making the publication seem more human.
5. Litmus: Named after the chemical testing paper, this email marketing testing company has a newsletter that is unique in its design. Swathes of color are used to break up the sections into easily readable bits. You never feel as though you’re staring at a field of monotony with the color scheme. The colors are muted and give the sense of a background without being too outstanding to distract you from what you’re reading. The content is interesting as you would expect from a marketing testing company, and it’s definitely one you should look into if marketing and analytics are your thing.
6. NoshOn.It: If you’ve ever tried making something from a recipe book and the book doesn’t have a helpful, full-color picture of what it’s supposed to turn out as, you’ll realize the struggles of many aspiring foodies out there. NoshOn.It is a newsletter that is designed for foodies and gives them helpful hints along with recipes and included pictures to help their readers visualize what they’re creating. Combining them with simple red text-boxes that stand out over the images and announce what it is you’re looking at helps readers to go directly to the section they’re looking for. Innovative design, to say the least, and quite useful for someone who cooks.
7. InterDrone News: Since drones became commercially available, there’s no shortage of people willing to throw a few bucks at them. InterDrone news is a pretty informative newsletter that encapsulates information about commercial and industrial uses of drones. As is to be expected from a B2B newsletter, its design is simple but effective. The entries are easy to read and give you all the important information about drones and their usage. If you’re a drone owner or are just curious about how this new technology benefits us overall, this is a pretty good addition to your reading list.
8. Very Short List (VSL): The idea behind VSL is simple in its premise, but powerful in its delivery. What Very Short List does is give you a selection of three “cultural gems” every day into your inbox. These gems differ from day to day as does the style and variety of the pieces. This is because VSL tasks a different contributor each day with doing the editing and compilation of their newsletter daily. This ensures that their content is always fresh, and that it might differ vastly from one day to another. VSL’s design is fun and playful as is to be expected from a blog that is fluid in its content style and delivery.
9. NextDraft: Another minimalist production, NextDraft gives you insight into a variety of topics without being too overbearing on presentation. The content delivery is simple, concise and effective. Social sharing opportunities abound throughout each of the pieces that make up the newsletter making it easy to get it out to your friends. NextDraft utilizes social media to grow its readership and with good reason. It’s one of the most effective ways of attracting people who like to read these types of articles to sign up to his mailing list. Simple design and informative news make a killer combination when it comes to a newsletter.
10. Hacker Newsletter: No, it’s not a newsletter for hackers. They don’t utilize this type of medium.
Hacker newsletter is a curation of the most interesting social media stories that is delivered daily to your inbox. The simple design can be misleading because the information it contains is informative. It’s a no-fluff newsletter, but uses sections to its benefit by breaking up potentially confusing stories and arranging them in a way that makes sense. It’s quite a lot more entertaining than trying to find out what’s going on over at Twitter by simply searching hashtags and far more efficient at delivering that information in a readable way to you too.
11. Chemical Processing Weekly: You tend to notice after a while that B2B newsletters are not very imaginative when it comes to titles. But in a professional publication, you have less creative freedom with your title. Chemical Processing Weekly makes up for the bland title with writing that’s definitely not what you’d think you’d find in a newsletter like this. The tone is friendly and cordial and makes you want to read more, even if you’re not into chemical process plants. Polls and reader questions help to build engagement with the audience and the writing is very well done, building your interest in the topic but staying true to its scientific roots. It’s not often you find a scientific writing enterprise that appeals to the layman.
12. Muck Rack Daily: In journalism, a “muckraker” is someone who digs up dirt on public figures in order to raise circulation of a newspaper or magazine. Muck Rack is certainly not that. The writing is fun and witty, and the tone is casual. It invites you to read more and the design is well put together, making reading easy. Bold headers separate sections so that you don’t have to worry about facing a wall of text. It’s simple yet effective at engaging the audience, and the information it presents is delivered with just the right amount of humor to make it readable.
13. General Assembly: Professionals that want to expand their skill sets should look into General Assembly as a newsletter to subscribe to. The header is entertaining with a simple GIF at the top to attract attention. Normally, when you see a GIF in a newsletter you usually prepare yourself for an onslaught of them throughout the publication. Gladly, you don’t encounter those in General Assembly. Rather the design is minimalist and gives you a content in a format that is easily scannable. Since this is a newsletter designed for professionals, being scannable is one of the major things that it must cater to since the core audience doesn’t have that much time to spend on sifting through newsletters. It’s an impressive publication nonetheless.
14. SD Times Featured Resources: If you’re a software developer, you must know how hard it is to get relevant information about what’s going on in the industry. SD Times caters to a niche by developing informative articles that address a lot of the issues within the industry. Strangely for a B2B newsletter the design is both and artistic. The calls to action are easily located at the bottom of the snippet for easy following. The layout of the whole newsletter is well done and the content is both appealing and relevant to the industry.
15. Medium: Medium is a blogging platform that came out in 2012. From the initial launch it has steadily grown momentum, providing informative articles and opinion posts on news, views and issues that affect a number of different industries. The newsletter they send is a compilation of some of the best posts on the Medium network and more often than not you’ll find yourself reading at least a few Medium posts per day. The minimalistic design is highlighted by the different colors and section division to give a feeling that you’re reading a more substantial publication. It’s simple, scannable and doesn’t hit you with information overload. What else could you ask for from a newsletter?
Your Email Newsletters and Outreach
Why should a company invest in a newsletter? The answer is simple. A newsletter gives you marketability. It helps you to be more prominent to people who want to read your content. Most of all, it allows you to develop a rapport with your core audience. Email marketing is alive and well in the twenty first century, but the face of how it interacts with the user has changed. Newsletters that are professionally designed take center stage with layout elements being as important to the email newsletter as it is to the blog or website.
Ideally, the email newsletter is a medium through which you can bring more readers in to your blog or site. More than one of those I’ve mentioned have easy sharing options for their articles and posts. The aim here is to reach out to the people that exist on social media and that find these kinds of posts interesting. By opening up your content to a wider audience you might even get more subscribers which turns into more views for you and a higher level of authority when it comes to Google.
At the end of the day, email newsletters can do wonders for spreading awareness about your site, but only if done the right way.
See our email product in our Content Shop.