How to choose the right format for your email newsletter

How to choose the right format for your email newsletter

First published on July 07, 2022 - Updated for 2023

There are creative ways to format your e-newsletter or email campaigns, and this post will show you what each format can do for your business depending on your content goals. But first, lest discuss Email Marketing.

What is Email Marketing?

Email Marketing is said to be the most effective online marketing channel to date with a ROI of $36 for every $1 spent according to Hubspot

So, depending on your business needs, email marketing is worth your time and attention. And yes, sending out a newsletter to your email list even if you are an author or artist is considered email marketing!

When it came to choosing the right format for my email newsletter, I had a tough choice to make between some of the most popular newsletter formats out there. 

And as a newbie content, fiction, and creative non-fiction writer, I thought the only way to bring my style into my newsletters was to go rogue. 

What I mean by that is, for someone who writes essays, it would only make sense that my emailed essays would have to look like a long letter to my readers because that’s how essays are supposed to look. 

But because I also love design, I thought instead of just going with a classic letter-style essay, why not add my own quirky headlines above the fold and a creative call to action below the fold? So, I did.

I wanted to make sure even if someone is reading a story or a personal essay they would still be:

  • hooked
  • engaged
  • receiving value in the end.

This is a good rule of thumb in email marketing, hence you should do the same.

So, what do you need to have an effective email newsletter?

First, if you don’t have one already, you will need an email marketing software or provider. There are free email marketing tools for small businesses that could be perfect for you as a creator or writer such as Mailchimp, Covert Kit, MailerLite, which is the tool that I'm currently using. 

There are countless more available, and their main benefit is they provide great templates for email newsletters and save you time with the process of formatting because they require little to no coding. 

Whether you want to send HTML or plain-text emails to your audience, when it comes to an email newsletter or an email marketing campaign, a good rule of thumb for best practices is to always have:

  • An attention-grabbing subject line
  • A header that reflects your brand (a branded banner)
  • The name of your brand as the sender with the person who is writing to your audience (make sure your emails are sent by a human being)
  • A body copy which starts with a hook (most important information, facts, questions, or story) that will make your readers want to keep reading.
  • A clear call-to-action at the end of your email that will lead your readers to taking the desired next steps so your subscribers would have something to do right away.
  • A footer with basic contact information and an unsubscribe link are a must, and they should be visible to avoid upsetting your subscribers should they wish to contact you or opt-out. They need to trust you.

These are the basics that you must learn to implement in your marketing efforts if you're using an email marketing tool to send your emails. You don’t want to mess up any of these if you want to increase the chances of your emails to be delivered and opened by your subscribers.

Next, we need to look at the format of your email newsletters or email campaigns.

How should you format your email newsletter?

To say my approach to formatting email newsletters is the best would be lying to you, which is why I will explain to you what existing formats can do for your business depending on what you want to achieve with your email newsletter:

1. Long-form email newsletters 

    A long form email newsletter is one that contains a large amount of text. This format works for essays, interviews or email courses. The best thing to remember for long-form is to always breakdown your text into smaller, digestible paragraphs. 

    On a desktop, a digestible paragraph would be about 2-4 sentences long as you can see in the example below from one of my newsletters: 

    You can even go lower for it to look great on a mobile device. Make sure you choose a template that is most suited for mobile from your email marketing tool, since most people prefer to open their emails on their mobile devices. 

    Use a readable font and a normal to large font size. The last thing you want is to have people unsubscribe from your newsletter because it is hard to read.

    I personally don’t recommend using lots of graphics in a long-form email newsletter, especially if it’s an essay, because people will get tired of scrolling for long minutes waiting to arrive at your conclusion. 

    Whatever point you’re trying to drive across, you can do it with a simple quote in-between two paragraphs (you don’t want to overdo it).

    2. Short-form email newsletters

      So many newsletters can fit into the short email newsletter format, since most announcements can be a 1-minute read. 

      Think about short newsletters as your go-to Twitter threads where you get the most important information that will drive a point across without taking a deep dive into the topic for which you may be asked to read a linked blog post or eBook.

      Short email newsletters are meant to be informative. That’s also where you need to bring your creativity to make the information impactful, entertaining and action inspiring. 

      The only rule here, for me, is to make it attractive enough so that your audience will keep opening your emails in the long run. Design matters.

      Think about the newsletters you are currently subscribed to and try to find out which of those keep you coming back the most. What kind of graphics or design elements go into them? 

      Once you have that figured out, you can incorporate what works for them in your own newsletter. Make sure you stay true to your brand throughout and be creative with things like banners, coupons, thumbnails, GIFs, anything to engage your audience while getting them to click on important links.

      Who should be using short form email newsletters?

      Anyone. This format is great for e-commerce, SaaS, and digital product updates that don't require long form content and focus on conversion. A good rule of thumb would be to not confuse your newsletter with a sales page.

      If you need to read more about email marketing and what it can do for your business, check out the MailerLite Blog which will help you get the marketing tips you need to succeed in your email marketing journey.

      And if you enjoyed reading this post and would like to learn more about content creation or get business inspiration delivered to your inbox, simply join my email list where writers, creators and businesses get a fresh perspective and insights from a fellow writerpreneur. Now go create your next best piece!

      About the Author:

      Priscille B. Fatuma is a social media specialist, writer, editor, and digital marketer. She can be found making sense on LinkedIn.