Email marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing channels. Unlike most of the other marketing vehicles, marketing emails, including editorial newsletters, are not subject to algorithm updates that can mess with your marketing campaigns.
That’s why all top businesses are keen on growing their email lists.
But how do you create an editorial newsletter that captures the recipient’s attention and holds it long enough until they click your CTA?
This comprehensive guide will give you six actionable tips on how to write an editorial newsletter that converts. You’ll learn why you must switch to a mobile-friendly newsletter template right away. You’ll learn how to improve the quality of your email newsletter by personalizing the content, telling stories, and adjusting the voice and tone of emails.
Finally, you’ll discover some of the critical metrics that will help you evaluate your campaigns accurately. But before all that, let’s start by answering this question:
Editorial newsletters are an effective email marketing tool that allows publishers to share content with their current and potential customers. The newsletters are composed of extracts from the publisher’s website written in an easily digestible format. They are then sent out in emails attached with relevant videos, images, and other resources.
Newsletters are primarily used for marketing the best content from a website. For this reason, many organizations would curate the newsletter from their best article of the week, month, or quarter.
Newsletters are also very effective for sharing key announcements with subscribers. They deliver the news directly to the customer’s inbox, informing them of changes that affect their relationship with your company.
For instance, an eCommerce website can dispatch newsletters communicating the launch of a new website or a change in shipping and warranty policies. That’s an important announcement that has a direct impact on the customer’s experience.
Whatever the reason is for sending newsletters, you must format the content correctly. Remember, we live in a digital world where almost everyone has a razor-thin attention span. In fact, one recent study shared by Time shows that humans have less attention span than goldfish.
The study reported that the human brain loses concentration after just 8 seconds! That’s a very short window to make a nice impression.
The fact that your newsletter is also popping into a smartphone that’s probably buzzing with other notifications doesn’t make things any better. The worst part? A poorly curated newsletter will not only be ignored, but it can also increase your unsubscribe rate.
A well-executed email marketing campaign can be effective. Data shows that the ROI of email marketing can exceed 300%. A study carried out by VentureBeat reported that every $1 spent on email marketing generated $38! That makes email marketing more effective than channels like radio, tv, display ads, among others.
So, how exactly do you ensure your newsletters are written perfectly for your unique audience? Here is how:
Mobile users have been increasing steadily in the last few years, forcing online businesses to rethink their designs.
Most recently, Google adopted a mobile-first strategy where they use a website’s mobile version for indexing and ranking. Why is that? Because they noticed the dramatic shift of users from PC and laptops to mobile devices. Soon afterward, popular eCommerce websites, blogs, and other online businesses redesigned their platforms to cater to mobile gadgets.
The same trend has affected email marketing campaigns.
Studies report that, on average, 47% of all emails are opened from mobile devices. Moreover, the number is expected to grow in the coming years.
Creating a mobile-friendly editorial newsletter is not just an option. You must do it if you want your campaign to succeed. It is especially important if your audience is made up of teens and millennials. Reports show that a significant percentage of this demographic almost always opens their emails from a smartphone.
How exactly does a mobile-friendly newsletter look?
The content of the email must be optimized for small screens. The text has to be easily readable, and it should fit perfectly on the screen.
Images, videos, graphs, and other resources, must be of great quality. Don’t force your readers to zoom in and out of the photos to understand what they mean. That’s an unnecessary hassle that can reduce both open and click-through rates.
Content is perhaps the most crucial element of your newsletter.
Your headline determines whether a subscriber will bother opening the email or not. Unless you come up with something catchy, the editorial newsletter you spent hours creating will be cleared from the notification bar.
Don’t focus too much on the headline and forget about the rest of the email. Go through the metrics of your email subscribers and identify what sets them apart. Look at the demographics, spending, or reading patterns, among others. You can also ask your subscribers to choose the content they’d like to receive.
A self-select subscription option comes highly recommended for several reasons. One, it eliminates the hectic work of auditing email lists to identify client’s interests. Your subscribers will do that for you when signing up.
Two, it almost always guarantees a high open rate. The self-select option eliminates guesswork from the email campaign. Subscribers declare their interests beforehand, so it’s up to you to create the content they want and deliver it to their inbox.
Take a look at this example from SHRM.
Subscribers can choose between different topics. There is also the option of choosing daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly newsletters.
Compile that data and place your audience into several categories based on their interests. Now, create relevant content for each of these groups. The simple strategy will boost the performance of each newsletter. It also creates a personal connection with every client.
Another effective way to increase the traction of your editorial newsletter is by creating content based on themes and trending topics. We saw a lot of this in 2020 when virtually all businesses were sending COVID-related newsletters. Black Friday and Christmas-themed newsletters are also pretty common.
Create a calendar and adjust your content to align with holidays that are relevant to your customers.
Giving your newsletters a personal touch makes the recipients feel special. A study carried out by Experian also showed that personalized emails perform so much better than generic blasts.
In this study, the open rates of personalized promotional emails were 29% higher. The unique click rates were also higher by 41%. The best part? The transactional rates of personalized emails were six times higher than non-personalized emails!
Statista carried out a similar study in 2016 focusing on the open and click rates. The results were very predictable, as shown on the graph below.
So, how exactly do you personalize your editorial newsletter? Start by giving your subscribers relevant content. It’s a rookie mistake to send an email on an article about how to properly wear heels to a man who will most likely wear flat shoes.
Mentioning the name of the recipient is another effective strategy. Some companies actually include the name in the email subject line. It draws the recipient’s attention and increases the likelihood of them reading your email. Check out this example:
Finally, sign off your editorial newsletters with the editor’s name. It’s a subtle detail, but it makes the entire email feel personal.
Every business is trying to send out email blasts to consumers. Your subscribers are probably signed up to several email lists. For a chance to stand out, you must find a unique voice that hooks your readers. A tone that only leads them to your CTAs, but leaves them waiting for the next newsletter.
Make sure that the tone and style relate to the recipient. The language you use to promote content to a 50-year-old will rarely be effective to a teen. Create a content style guide to ensure consistency in your email copy.
For instance, CB Insight is a popular B2B company that provides actionable insights to corporations and startups. They have a very successful email marketing campaign with over 720,000 subscribers.
But what comes to your mind when someone mentions B2B newsletters? You’re probably thinking, boring long-form emails full of unnecessary jargon, right? Yes, that’s how most B2B editorial newsletters look.
CB Insights, however, breaks this culture with casual yet informative emails. They use a conversational tone and will never shy away from sprinkling jokes and vivid examples. They even close their emails with an “I Love You” message! Take a look at this example.
That brings us to a common question asked by many businesses. Should one automate newsletters or curate them?
Automated newsletters are beneficial in many ways. For one, they provide a hands-free experience. The software will pick and send the emails while you focus on other things. That may sound enticing, but automated systems lack a human touch, and this affects the newsletter’s performance.
For that reason, business owners are encouraged to curate the content themselves. Sure, it’s time-consuming and exhausting, but the results are well worth it.
A nice story will keep your readers hooked to the email until the end. That’s precisely what you want, considering you’re competing with other media for the client’s attention.
Many charity organizations use this email marketing strategy. A humanitarian body will tell an inspiring story about the lives your donation will change. They’ll even provide the names and pictures of these people.
No one does newsletter storytelling better than Unicef. Just have a look at this email opening.
Businesses can use a similar approach. Instead of describing your products like everyone else, tell an inspiring or humorous story. Talk about how a client was struggling with poor conversion rates on his website until you came along. Support the story with before and after images showing the impact of your expertise.
Evaluation is an integral part of every marketing campaign. The process shows where you are at the moment and the gaps you can exploit to reach your target.
Take your time and go through the metrics of each newsletter. Identify the best- and worst-performing ones. What’s the difference between them? Do a thorough analysis, and you will start to see the key elements that move the needle.
Here are some of the email marketing metrics you need to look at:
The delivery rate shows how many people are receiving your newsletters. In other words, it represents the size of your audience.
A decreasing delivery rate may be an indication that more people are unsubscribing from your newsletter.
A bounce rate shows the number of emails that are not reaching recipients’ inboxes. An email bounce can either be “hard or “soft.”
A hard bounce shows the emails that could not be delivered because the recipient’s email address is invalid or closed.
Soft bounces are caused by temporary issues like a full mailbox.
Your goal should be to keep the bounce rate as low as possible.
An email open rate is supposed to show the percentage of people that open your emails. Sadly, this metric is rarely accurate. You see, for a system to consider an email opened, the recipient must do one of two things; enable the images present in the email or click a link inside the email.
What this means is that anyone using software that blocks images will never be captured in the metric. The open rate usually suffers underreporting issues, so it’s not very reliable.
That said, you can increase the number of people opening your newsletters by creating personalized and engaging headlines.
It shows the percentage of people that sign out of your subscription list after opening a certain email.
Note that a low unsubscription rate is not an indication of a good email list. People can stop opening your marketing emails while remaining subscribed to your list, so take this metric with a pinch of salt.
Now, this is the metric you need to worry about. The click-through rate represents the percentage of people that are clicking the links present in your email.
Click-through rates are a representation of the effectiveness of a campaign.
The quality of your newsletters determines how high your CTR will be.
Test and retest so you’ll know which elements of your editorial newsletter work and which don’t. So, the next time you send one, it will be more effective.
Editorial newsletters give you a unique opportunity to stay in touch with your clients. They allow you to deliver quality content and noteworthy news to your customers’ inboxes.
For your newsletters to be successful, it’s critical that you curate them with your clients in mind. Personalize the content and make sure it’s relevant to their needs. Be creative and curate the content in a story-telling format supporting text with images, graphs, and videos.
Don’t forget that most of your customers will be reading the email from a smartphone. Therefore, optimize the content for mobile devices to enhance their experience. Finally, evaluate the performance of your campaign. Look at the key metrics discussed above and adjust newsletters accordingly.
Successful email marketing can be challenging but not impossible. With the above guide, we’re confident that you will create highly effective editorial newsletters that will help you reach your marketing and, by extension, your business goals.
Nicholas Rubright is the communications specialist for Writer, an AI writing assistant designed for teams. Nicholas has previously worked to develop content marketing strategies for brands like Webex, Havenly, and Fictiv.