Five Steps to Design a Killer Email Newsletter Layout

By Kristin Masters

 Five Steps to Design a Killer Email Newsletter Layout

Your company’s email newsletter has the potential to be an incredible lead generation tool.

If you want to be an email conversion commando, you’ll need a killer email template. In the world of email marketing, a killer template doesn’t incorporate all the latest shiny bells and whistles.  On the contrary, the best email newsletters follow these five simple rules.

1. Keep it clean.

White space is an important part of any web design, and the same is true for your email newsletter. And given that as many as 70% of your subscribers may open your emails via mobile devices, a clutter-free design is even more important. Work with your designer to develop a clean, uncluttered email newsletter layout. Be sure to strategically use white space around key elements like your calls-to-action.

 Hubspot Email Newsletter Example
Our friends at HubSpot kept this partner email clean, leaving no question about the purpose or the desired action. 

2. Maintain consistent design.

Your email newsletter should be consistent with your company’s other online marketing collateral, especially your website. Use the same color scheme, fonts and other design elements in your newsletter layout as you do on your website.

If you incorporate navigation in your email newsletters, make it the same or very similar to your website navigation. And as you develop templates for different email newsletters, such as your transactional emails, be sure to keep the look and feel the same as your email newsletters.

 Header of Health and Alliance Wellness for Children email newsletter
The Health and Wellness Alliance for Children uses its logo, along with the fonts and color scheme of its website, for the header of its twice-monthly newsletter. 

3. Make it easy to connect, share and unsubscribe.

You want your readers to share your content with their own networks, so be sure to include buttons for forwarding and social sharing. It may seem counterintuitive, but you should also make it easy for people to unsubscribe. While you don’t need to put this button at the very top of your email, readers shouldn’t have to search for it, either.

You want to maintain an active, engaged mailing list, which begins with delivering excellent content and continues with giving people a way to opt out if it’s not a fit for them. Furthermore, making that unsubscribe option easy makes your email newsletter complaint with CAN-SPAM requirements.

 Books Tell You Why email newsletter example
Antiquarian bookseller Books Tell You Why includes a CAN-SPAM compliant footer with contact information, links to offers, and social sharing buttons. 

4.Incorporate images.

Research consistently shows that images and video improve engagement and conversion rates. Your email newsletter layout should offer opportunities to include relevant images. A nuts-and-bolts tip: When you actually create your email newsletter, make sure that every image, including any call-to-action images, have appropriate alt-text.

Many readers won’t have images enabled, so the alt-text will let them know what they’re missing.

 Example of KnitPicks email newsletter
Upscale yarn purveyor KnitPicks consistently incorporates bold images in their email newsletter campaigns, followed by a simple call to action.  

5. Create a call-to-action hierarchy.

Think about the content you’ll want to consistently include in your newsletter. Chances are, you’ll have at least one call-to-action in each email. Design your newsletter layout with one prominent module that will include each email newsletter’s most important call-to-action.

The module itself should be larger than other content modules on the page, and the call-to-action button you use should also be more prominent than others. Plan to differentiate your most important call-to-action with as many visual indicators as reasonably possible.

 National Collaborative for Childhood Obesity Research email newsletter example
The National Collaborative for Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) prominently features each primary call to action. Subsequent CTAs are usually included as hyperlinked text. 


Kristin Masters

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