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Creating content that connects brands with audiences

How great newsletter design can improve your email marketing efforts

Email is one of the most powerful marketing channels you have at your fingertips. An email newsletter can bring readers compelling content, relevant news and drive both customer engagement and sales.

Whether it goes out daily, weekly, monthly – or all three – you can pack your newsletter with quality content, brand storytelling, personalised offers and value-add information that shows your audience you understand their needs and value their business.

Why visual impact matters

You can build in analytics, too, to identify what content readers enjoyed and what they didn’t. Then you can adapt your content to make sure the balance tilts more towards the ‘like’ end.

After all, content marketing is made for experimentation: if your content isn’t getting the results you want, review your process and try again.

But while you may spend a great deal of time preparing what you are going to write, how it reflects your brand, and how you are going to add value, don’t forget to focus on how your newsletter is going to look when it lands in the inbox.

The truth is, good (but why not aim for great) design is one of the most important considerations you should make when creating content. Even the best content won’t capture attention if it’s not brought to life by great design.

In short, if you want to stand out from the crowd, your content must have visual impact. Have a look at why visual design is important for content marketing to find out more.

E-newsletter case study: Real Business redesign

Three days after the redesign of Real Business’ newsletter, average click rate saw an increase of 245 per cent.

Caspian’s Real Business, which champions entrepreneurship in the UK, offers newsletters that provide subscribing businesses with a daily brief, a weekend read, events news or a special weekly edition tailored for finance directors.

The Real Business website recently underwent a brand refresh, which included an update of the newsletter designs.

While the change was necessary in order to keep all communications in line with the new design aesthetic (to provide a consistent user experience), it was also a chance to ensure that the newsletter made the greatest impact it could.

Amazingly, while nothing about the actual content changed, the impact on open rates and click-throughs was fast and dramatic.

“Within just a few days of the newsletter relaunch, we saw a significant improvement and much greater page views, compared with the old-style format,” says Praseeda Nair, Real Business Editorial Director. “This shows the power of design – the better something is designed the better the response”.

The numbers tell the story: over the first three days that the newsletter design was in place, average click rate saw an increase of 245 per cent, while the open rate increased by 6.5 per cent.

What changed: Getting more out of newsletter design

Remember, the content didn’t change. So what newsletter design changes made the difference?

1. Mobile optimisation

As part of the overall design changes, the team looked at how well the newsletter and links would load and view on mobiles.

With mobile becoming the go-to choice for B2B buying, it is crucial that every newsletter designer makes sure their content is fast-to-load and easy-to-view on any smartphone or handheld device.

Now, each newsletter that comes from Real Business is completely responsive and intelligently designed so that it fits to all screens.

It is crucial that every newsletter designer makes sure their content is fast-to-load and easy-to-view on any smartphone or handheld device.

Each Real Business newsletter is responsive to different devices.

2. Type and colour

In taking on the new website brand values, the newsletter gained fresh, up-to-date typography, and a bold, yellow highlight colour.

This makes it easier to navigate through the headlines and draws the eye immediately to key stories.

There is also plenty of space between headlines, which are accompanied by short descriptors. This makes it easier for readers to scan quickly through and choose which feature to read first. In short, everything non-essential was taken out.

3. Imagery

To keep loading easy and cut down on clutter, one key image appears on each newsletter. This keeps the layout simple and directs the reader straight to the story the editors think they will find most interesting.

How great newsletter design can increase your impact: cut down on image clutter

The Real Business newsletter avoids overloading the reader by using one key image.

4. Teamwork and testing 

Importantly, the editorial team worked closely with the designer to make sure the content worked well with the new format. They tested each change and learned from the process of trial and error.

Just as in any content marketing project, communications between design and content function is crucial.

What the whole experience goes to show, says Nair, is that every company can get more out of its email newsletter, engineer more content and get more out of leads.

Learn more with our Content Marketing Guide

Need more advice on newsletter design or want to create best-in-class content?

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