Designing an Email Newsletter

By Shan Balasuriya Posted Date: 2013-10-24

Email Marketing is an ideal method for any business owner looking for a simple and effective way to reach customers. Email Marketing is cheap because it's done online (there's no physical medium like traditional mail) and the fact that there is little to no cost in creating an email newsletter also makes it cheaper. In addition to being inexpensive, email marketing also helps to reach a larger audience within a short period of time as well as target them more specifically based on information in your customer database or mailing list.

Like most types of online marketing, email marketing has certain aspects that must be considered for an effective outcome from the marketing campaign. Besides having a subject line that is eye catching in contrast to other emails in your target audience's inbox as well as good content within the email, the actual design and look of it must also impress and attract the recipient. Some of the important factors to consider have been discussed below.

What to consider when designing an email newsletter and selecting the template:

An email newsletter template is basically a single page website layout formatted in such a way that it looks good within the framework of an email. A good template can be used to present marketing messages in a luring way so they may be clicked and lead to conversions. All email newsletter templates must look at the following:

Branding: It is vital that your business logo is prominently shown as part of the email. Usually this appears in the header (a banner that appears across the width of the email). A recent study states viewers of websites and email newsletters generally look to the top left for the company logo and the top right side for contact information. Hence placing these appropriately will help in a more appealing layout for your template.

Link to a web version: It is also a good idea to have a link above the header to allow the targeted customer to view the email as a webpage. With concern for the user most email clients like Google and Microsoft Outlook block pictures and some content by default so as to filter out spam. Providing the recipient of the email with an option of viewing the newsletter as a webpage will give them the option of overriding the email spam filters without having to disable or change any settings.

The footer: It is good to include an unsubscribe button or area so that recipients can opt out of getting such emails in the future. The full contact details (like address etc.) of your business can also be included in the footer. According to the Australian electronic communications act you must actually have permission to send emails to that person, you must have an unsubscribe link and you must have your full business contact information stated in the email. (as from a legal perspective)

Once the header and the footer structure of your template has been decided upon, it is time to focus on the actual design of the template. There are three main types of template design, using pre-made templates, using a single image, and designing a custom template. Each of these have their advantages and downsides:

Pre-made templates:
Email marketing campaign services like mail chimp usually have a variety of pre-made templates that are also available. The point of a pre-made template is so that users can relay their message to their marketing list quickly - By quickly I mean within a few button clicks they can have a newsletter going out, although it may not look very good. This maybe time efficient but not always very effective for getting sales. On the other hand to deliver general information to a large audience quickly, this would be an ideal tool. The main downside of using pre-made templates is that most times these email management clients are looking to market themselves and will usually have their logo (or something similar) embedded in the template, this makes your newsletter look un-professional and hence less appealing.

Using a Single Image:
This may be the easiest way to design a marketing email or newsletter. This simply involves designing an image that contains all the information and handles the goals of the campaign and framing it between the header and footer. Within the image you could have a good design and a catch phrase or sentence that draws viewers in and makes them click on it. When clicked the image would redirect the user via a web browser to a relevant website or article/blog. In addition to being quicker and easier to put together (because of the lack of code) this strategy also gives a business the option of sending out email that are visually appealing. The main downsides to using a single image is that many spam filters within email clients would block the image and the fact that the success of the campaign depends on how good the image is.

Custom HTML email templates:
This would be the best approach as it involves balancing visually striking images and catchy text to give an aesthetic appeal to the email newsletter. Creating a custom template involves the use of an HTML editor such as Dreamweaver which ultimately gives you more flexibility with design (and functionality) as well as more control over the final newsletter. Although custom email templates give the user more control and personalization options for an effective email campaign, it also has its disadvantages. The fact that it involves coding in html to build the layout and design may result in the email not looking consistent when viewed in different email clients, this can be fixed but if you are not very savvy with HTML it may be lengthy process and end up as a waste of time.

Ultimately the best option would be to use a professional web designer to design a custom HTML template that appears properly when viewed in any email client. This way you are more likely to gain the viewers interest and consecutively their click, which could result in a conversion. These custom email templates maybe used in conjunction with a email marketing management softwares to monitor statistics.

Most firms that handle email marketing also have custom CMS softwares that help manage a database with a mailing list and also provides useful statistics with regard to the newsletter campaign. Statistics such as open rate, bounce rate and click through rate can be used to effectively improve your marketing strategy by comparing the results of different types of strategies and identifying which one is the best for your business.

For more information on email marketing and designing email newsletters speak to us today! 

Check out next weeks blog post for more tips on getting customers using email marketing.