Design Inspiration

Guide: How to Make a Newsletter More Engaging

Guide: How to Make a Newsletter More Engaging

Email newsletters typically contain a lot of content—more than your average promotion email. That’s because newsletters convey in-email information instead of only driving readers toward a call-to-action button. With all that content and all that scrolling, it’s important to know how to make your newsletter engaging! Great design can help make your newsletter more navigable, more beautiful, and, yes, more effective. Check out these 5 tips for building a more engaging newsletter!

1. Improve navigation with an interactive table of contents

Newsletters that contain a ton of content can be made easier to navigate with a table of contents. A static table of contents can be useful to show readers what to expect, but what’s even better is an interactive one where readers can click to skip ahead to a specific section. The way to design one is by using anchor links, like Smashing Magazine does in its newsletter. Here’s a recent example (Subject: Performance, Sketch and Animation Handbook):

smashing magazine newsletter content strategy

You can’t tell from this static image of the newsletter, but that table of contents sure is clickable. Tap any link in the list, and you’ll jump down to the associated module. This technique is extra useful for long, long, long newsletters like this one, where a company is including plenty of in-email content (vs. enticing readers to click to learn more on a website). And what’s great about interactive tables of contents is that they’re pretty widely supported across email clients and they’re easily implemented (no coding necessary!) Check out our tutorial, How to Add Anchor Links in Email, to learn how.


2. Grab attention with a full-bleed hero module

One look at this newsletter from Dense Discovery, and we’re feeling brighter and cheerier already. The bold orange HTML background color used in the content row of the hero module instantly makes this email pop in our inbox (Subject: 40 / Calendar stencils and a browser history track):

dense discovery sample newsletter content

A bold, beautiful intro is a must for grabbing readers’ attention from the get-go. Using an HTML background color to create a full-width effect in the hero module is the perfect way to do it. You can see Dense Discovery uses HTML background colors in alternating modules throughout the newsletter to improve legibility and make the message more visually interesting, too.


3. Vary content width to keep it interesting

There’s design efficiency gained in keeping each module in your newsletter consistent. However, asymmetrical designs and variable content modules can create a sense of delight, fun, and interest. Just like Dense Discovery uses bold HTML color to add width to its opening module, the It’s Nice That newsletter also employs full-width modules throughout its newsletter (Subject: The Weekly Edit):

its nice that newsletter content services

If you’re looking for fun newsletter ideas, this example email is a great place to find inspiration! Varying the width of each module gives this newsletter a dynamic, playful appeal. Also, It’s Nice That uses huge font sizes and HTML background colors to add visual interest to its content. And don’t miss the animation in the header!


4. Animate your offerings with GIFs

Sometimes the best way to convey a product or offering is with a little animation. It’s a particularly helpful strategy with apps or web tools where a static screenshot just doesn’t do it justice. In this newsletter from Noble Desktop, GIFs are used to animate photo editing and coding techniques, visually communicating to readers what they’ll learn in class (Subject: New SQL Bootcamp Begins Next Week):

noble desktop fun employee newsletter ideas

Here’s the Lightroom animation:

email newsletter gif sample

And here’s the coding GIF:

engaging email gif sample

Neither GIF is particularly complex or has an extensive number of frames. Still, they give readers an idea of what to expect and level-up Noble Desktop’s communication. Adding well-formatted GIFs to your newsletter is one way to delight readers and make your email more engaging.


5. Make a personal connection

With all of our inboxes inundated with emails, it helps to make a personal connection. Sometimes the best way to stand out is to keep it simple and get a little personal. Check out this plain text newsletter from Skillcrush, for example (Subject: Your coding rebellion):

skillcrush How to make a newsletter more engaging

It reads like a letter and includes a personal sign-off (xoxo, Adda). Good copy is a must in letter-style newsletters like this one. What also helps are plenty of line breaks and well-formatted text. Think: left-alignment, large enough font size, live text, high contrast.

Are you ready to up your newsletter content strategy and design your own engaging email? The BEE editor has an extensive library of newsletter templates to give you a leg up. Choose from dozens of beautifully designed templates and customize in minutes with the drag-n-drop tool. Delete or add modules; replace images; format fonts—There’s so much you can do! Happy designing!

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Kelly Shetron

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