6 Email Newsletter Layout Elements You Shouldn’t Skimp On

Obvious email newsletter layout elements that publishers often forget to style

The reason you create white papers and special reports is to build a large and thriving email list. Since you’re putting so much effort into creating that list, it only makes sense that your email newsletter looks its best, right?

Our own email newsletter is currently undergoing a makeover and there were some points we came across in the re-design that we wanted to share with you. We always like to share our email design best practices, but here are some email newsletter layout elements that cannot be missed!

Big Bold Headlines: Your catchy headline isn’t going to be very catchy if it doesn’t catch their eye with drastic size or color. We often recommend a strong color or size for headline-based emails, typically daily emails with one featured story. We also recommend doing it way above the fold.

While looking at our own most successful email newsletters, we discovered the following elements that you should also pay attention to in your email newsletters – the copy that gets people to keep reading and stay engaged:

  • The promises you make: Be sure to always fulfill any promises in the body copy.
  • The topics you cover: New and updated content is great to share with audiences.
  • The specifics you use: Using a number to express the number of tips someone will learn from your email is a practical strategy.
  • The interaction you create: Audience members won’t necessarily get involved with the conversation if you aren’t asking questions.

Social Media Buttons: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Don’t limit yourself to email addresses. Include your Twitter, Facebook and YouTube buttons in your email newsletter so you can gather subscribers on as many lists as possible.

Most publishers include them at the top of their newsletters, and many savvy publishers — who know that users scroll to the bottom to unsubscribe — add them to the top of their footer as well.

Big Beautiful Photos: As you know, we love a good headshot. Faces have proven to grab the attention of the reader and engage them immediately. If your editors are pulling on your pant leg and begging you to keep their faces secluded on the author page, then try stock photography instead. Using a featured image with your leading article draws attention in also.

When including images, assign alt text to each in case images are blocked. Alt text associated with images will allow people to know what the image is, even when blocked. Apple’s iOS enables images to display by default, which is good news for email marketers using visuals.

Actionable Calls to Action: Every email newsletter, even if editorially driven, should have a call to action. It should at some point drive the user to do something, whether it’s buying a product or asking them to click into the full article, or even read another article. We use text ads in our emails for products that relate to the topic at hand.

Since we want our content to be the focal point, we don’t make a big deal out of it, but we can’t miss an opportunity to help fund our team of writers too! In our new email newsletter design, you’ll find the calls to action to be more prominent than text ads and visually driven as well.

Idiot-Proof Mobile Integration: Don’t forget a mobile version of your email newsletter. Mobile emails don’t just look like three-word paragraphs anymore — smartphones have made them easy to read and click-worthy.

While designing for Android, stay under 600 pixels. The Litmus Blog suggests that the overall size if trimmed to be between 320 and 550 pixels. This size requirement is specifically for non-iOS phones, because Apple devices will automatically resize the content. Your creative calls-to-action need to be eye-catching and tappable, with a minimum size of 44 x 44 points.

Also, font for mobile emails needs to be larger than that of standard emails. Apple will automatically increase small font to be the minimum of 13 pixels. On Android devices, 16-18 scale-independent pixels are considered medium and large text sizes. Many designers recommend a minimum of 14 pixel font for body text and minimum of 22 pixel font for headlines.

Obvious Unsubscribe Links: To stay CAN-SPAM compliant  and also keep your customers from hitting the “junk” button, your unsubscribe link shouldn’t be hidden or missing.

In fact, some publishers choose to make their link big and bold. Others simply tell customers that hitting the junk button won’t unsubscribe them, and to properly unsubscribe they need to click this link to Unsubscribe.

A well-crafted email newsletter has to have catchy snippets, be skimmable, include valuable information, direct users to social networks, and present related products. These characteristics provide a content-rich email newsletter for recipients, and ways to generate revenue for publishers. However, when it comes to the creation of email newsletters, the “right” way to do it is the most efficient manner that presents the best design.

It also means creating better content than anyone else in your niche. Why should a subscriber sign up to add you to their inbox if there’s a better, more comprehensive email newsletter out there?

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