How to win at email newsletter writing in 2020 and beyond

Once you start building an email list, the last thing you want to do is disappear on your new subscribers. Nope. If you disappear on them only to show up in their inboxes when you want to sell them something, then there’s really no point in getting them to subscribe in the first place because they will continue to be cold leads. 
That’s where email newsletters come in.

But, wait, I hear you say….Newsletters are so 2010!

And if you’re thinking of old style of email newsletter, then I 100% agree with you.

The old style of email newsletters consisted of business updates, promos and sometimes blog posts (or links to them). Some of the giant brands still do this but others have started moving away from this as well.

Most people are inundated with emails that they probably won’t even read. They’re exposed to a ton of brands and marketing information on social media, and they don’t have the time and headspace to actively and intentionally consume and remember everything they see, read and receive. The old style of email newsletter is simply not enough to capture and retain their attention.

Email marketers now need to work harder than ever to stay in the front of readers’ and prospects’ minds. It’s no longer effective to simply hammer your subscriber list with offer after offer. Marketing emails need to do more than just remind people to buy from us.

So what should email newsletters be like in 2020 and beyond?

  1. They need to provide outstanding value to subscribers—so much so that subscribers look forward to reading.
  2. They should position you as an expert and build trust for you and your business.
  3. They should communicate with your readers more directly and personally than social media posts.

How to win at email newsletter writing

1) Be intentional and strategic with your efforts: Every newsletter you send should have a purpose that goes beyond just staying in touch with subscribers. Each newsletter should have a goal that’s aligned with your business vision and aims. This is why it’s vital that you create a content plan for your newsletters.

2) Be consistent with when you send: Choose how often you want to send your newsletters and send them on the same day and at the same time each week (or whatever interval you’ve chosen). When’s the best time to send? This will depend largely on your audience. Think about when they are most likely going to check and read their emails. When would they most appreciate receiving your helpful/inspiring emails? Strive to remain consistent so that your readers get used to receiving your emails on particular days and times of day. But don’t be afraid to change up the time or even the day you send email until you find what works best (not too often of course). Testing and tracking is critical here.

3) Be consistent with what you send: That doesn’t mean only ever sending your subscribers one type of content. You definitely want to have variety with that! But you should make sure you are consistent with the kinds of things your content covers as well. This means your content should always, or at least most of the time, relate back to your brand and business niche. For example, if your blog is about marathon running, don’t suddenly start emailing your subscribers about how to start a blog or get out of debt. If your subscribers keep asking for this kind of content, then of course go ahead and give them what they’re asking for but you may want to segment your list so that subscribers who only want to hear about running don’t receive content they don’t want.

4) Choose an email layout and design that suits your brand and your subscribers: There isn’t one right way. If you have a very visual brand, say a kids crafts with blog, then your subscribers might appreciate newsletters with lots of color and images. Subscribers to a legal blog, on the other hand, might prefer emails where the text is the main focus and images are minimal if included at all. But that’s not always the case – a legal blog that caters to a tech savvy student population might get better results with a colorful design and the odd GIF or too. This is why it’s so important to test things and get to know your subscribers.

5) Don’t rely on images to convey important messages: Most email clients have images turned off as a default, so make sure readers will understand everything in your newsletter even if they don’t see the images. And if you use images, make sure to use high-resolution images that are clear and in focus.

6) Make sure your newsletter content is concise and easy to read and digest: Don’t try to cram too many things into your newsletters. Keep it focused and to the point. Be concise and remove any excess “fluff.” Most people don’t read emails word-for-word, at least not the first time they open them. Use headings and paragraphs so that readers can easily scan your newsletters.

7) Don’t neglect your branding: Use your brand colors and fonts whenever possible. If your email provider doesn’t have the exact font you need, that’s okay; choose one that’s easy to read and looks good across all devices. Your style of writing and how you communicate is also part of your brand. Make sure your brand voice (i.e. your brand’s personality) comes out in everything you include in your newsletters (and all of your content everywhere!) and that you choose the right tone for each situation. Check out this article for more about voice and tone.

8) Your newsletter should be full of great content: Provide super valuable content that your subscribers are excited to read and receive. Never be afraid of sharing some of your best stuff with your subscribers – even if you think it’s something you could charge for. When subscribers get a taste of your best content and when they feel valued and taken care of by you, they’ll be far more likely to invest in your paid products or services.

9) Keep mobile devices in mind—always: Make sure to choose an email marketing provider that enables you to design mobile friendly emails (MailerLite is my number 1 choice). A huge percentage of email recipients use mobile devices to check and read emails, (Hubspot reports that 46% of all email opens occur on mobile devices) so you want to make sure your emails look great over across the widest variety of devices possible.

10) Make your emails personal and be relatable: Write like you’d talk to your subscribers if you met them in person. Share your own personal stories, including your struggles. Show your subscribers the real you. Remember: people connect with, buy from and become loyal to people far more easily they ever do to businesses.

11) Pay attention to your subject line: With so many emails vying for your readers’ attention, your email subject lines need to stand out and grab your readers’ attention. If your newsletter subject lines are boring, spammy or click-baity, then chances are your readers will just delete them without reading or even report them as spam. Never set expectations for something that you don’t fully deliver on in the actual email. Use subject lines that you think will resonate with your subscribers and which are appropriate for the content of your email. Create a swipe file of different subject line ideas and get sending, testing and tracking so that you can get to know exactly what works with your audience.

12) Test, track and adapt: Try different subject lines, times of sending and formats. Take note of what kinds of email subject lines tend to get the most opens and what types of content generate the most engagement. Test all parts of your newsletter strategy to find what works best for your audience.

Having a strategic and sustainable email marketing plan can be a game-changer for growing your business and increasing your bottom line. And now that you’ve got these tips, it’s time to start taking action. 🙂

Psst…If you haven’t set up your email marketing system yet, check out this step-by-step guide to getting started.

18 thoughts on “How to win at email newsletter writing in 2020 and beyond”

  1. This is so informative! I’ve been entertaining the idea of email newsletters so this has been really helpful, thank you!

    • Hi Sian,
      I’m really glad you found the post helpful. Newsletters are definitely a commitment but also such a help in building trust and staying top of mind with readers, customers and potential customers.
      If you’ve got any questions about getting started, let me know.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read the post and leave a comment.
      Have a great day. 🙂

    • Hi Lindsey,
      I’m glad the tips are helpful. It’s great that you want to start working on your newsletter – I’m excited for you!
      All the best,

  2. I love these tips! Sometimes my email marketing falls a little behind but really they need the most nurturing since they are the best people to sell to later on. So, consistency is definitely something I’m working on. Especially, with picking a day to send my newsletter out. Thanks for the awesome tips!

    • Hi Heather,
      I’m so glad you found the tips helpful.
      Consistency is a big challenge! I’d recommend experimenting a bit until you find a day and time that works well for you and your subscribers. Batch writing and scheduling newsletters can also be a big help.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. 🙂

    • Hi Noulai,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m really happy that you found the post informative.
      All the best,

  3. This is great advice! I’m new to blogging and am close to my first 100 subscribers… but I’m still working up the courage to start emailing! This will help!

    • Hi Tana,
      That’s awesome and a huge achievement. Well done!
      I’m sure your subscribers are going to be thrilled to hear from you. Go for it!

  4. This is informative. I have been trying to figure out what to put in my newsletters. I don’t sell products yet, so my newsletters are mostly about my blog posts and any other special thing going on such as the giveaway I participated. I am still not getting as much clicks even after working on subject lines. I need a plan, for sure. Hopefully these tips can help me in that department.

    • Hi Robyn,
      Creating a plan is for sure one of the most important and helpful things you can do for yourself and your subscribers. I hope these tips will help. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
      All the best,

    • Hi Jenny,
      Thanks so much for reading, commenting and pinning. I really appreciate it. 🙂
      I hope the tips will help you rock your email newsletters.
      Have an awesome day!

  5. I’m actually taking over the newsletter for one of the sites I manage so this post came at the perfect time. Thanks so much for the great tips!

    • Hi Summer,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I’m so glad the post is helpful.
      I’m sure you’re going to rock the newsletter that you’re taking over for your client. 🙂
      All the best,

    • Hi Tahmina,
      I understand the dread – sending regular newsletters can be pretty daunting at first! I really hope these tips will help. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
      Thanks for stopping by.


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