How To Understand Email Newsletter Design in 9 Steps

Christy Walters


June 22, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

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Having a unique and appealing email newsletter design can help you stand out from your competition. With this complete guide to designing and optimizing your newsletters, you can learn about the most appealing formats for newsletters. You can also get industry tips to help you boost your clicks and engagement.

How To Design an Email Newsletter

Designing a newsletter can be simple, especially with a variety of tools available to help. Follow the steps below to start the creation process:

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1. Choose a Goal

The goal of your newsletter can vary depending on its purpose. You may try to increase open or click-through rates, increase sales or brand loyalty, or create a channel for the flow of information. Knowing what you want to share and what you want your audience to learn and understand from your newsletter can help you make important decisions about your layout and design.

2. Choose Dimensions

Choosing a fixed width for your newsletter can help you understand exactly how much space you have available to fill. It can also prevent the need for horizontal scroll bars on some devices. The ideal width for a newsletter is between 550 and 600 pixels. Consider putting the most important information between the top 300 and 500 pixels because that’s the average size of an email preview pane for most email clients on a desktop computer.

3. Set Up Your Document

You can use any type of graphic editor program to create your newsletter template document. Adobe Photoshop is one of the most common, but there are a variety of other similar paid and free tools you can use as an alternative. Make your document bigger than the size of your actual newsletter, such as 800 pixels wide by 1000 pixels long, This creates a background frame in which you can add a 600 pixel-wide centered container for your header.

4. Include Viewing Options

Accessibility is key when creating email newsletters. Include a line near the top of the template that invites recipients to view the newsletter outside of their traditional email client. Something simple like “Having trouble? View this email in your browser” can let readers know they have choices to view the content in a way that’s more preferable for their needs.

5. Create the Header

The header is the part of the email design template where you can do the most branding. Using fonts, colors, and graphics that you already use in other channels can help increase brand recognition. Consider using elements from your website headers, such as your logo or fonts and colors, and incorporate them into your email newsletter design. This encourages continuity across all your platforms and campaigns.

6. Build the Body of the Newsletter

After you’ve completed the header, you can create another 600 pixel-wide container below the header for the body content of the email. Here, you’ll likely include information from your website or blog about recently released articles, upcoming products or events, coupon codes, or other information to share with your target audience.

7. Add Social Links

Near the bottom of your newsletter, you can add a place for your social media links and other options to share your content. Create a button that includes a call to action (CTA) like “Share this newsletter with friends!” This gives your subscribers an option to send your content to others and lets you track this kind of information for your metrics. You can also create a section for your social media icons or handles to encourage people to connect with you on other platforms.

8. Include the Footer

The footer goes below your call to action button and social media links. Its purpose is to hold additional information that’s expected in an email newsletter. You may add a “Contact Us” link that goes to the contact information on your website. You may also add an unsubscribe link so users can opt out of communications if they choose.

9. Review the Final Product

Once you’ve finished the template, look back through and review each section before downloading the completed file. Check for typos, misspellings, unintended changes in color scheme, and any other mistakes. This can save you time from having to go back in and make changes after testing before you email it out to your subscribers’ list. Be sure to save the document in a format that’s compatible with your email marketing program for an easier uploading experience.

The Purpose of an Email Newsletter

The purpose of an email newsletter is to communicate information with your users and customers. It’s cost-effective because you’re able to do most of the work in-house with tools you already have or use for other purposes. This style of communication can get information out quickly about current and upcoming projects or services, alert people to events, and give sneak previews of your content marketing efforts like blog posts or articles in related disciplines. To make your email newsletter as effective as possible, tailor it to the needs of the organization, your current users, and your untapped target audience.

How Do Email Newsletters Work?

Email newsletters do more than just inform the public. They’re designed to engage users to make a deeper connection with a company and its offerings. You want people to take action by providing them with something they can’t get anywhere else. For example, a band and their promotional team may offer a presale code for concert tickets to people who subscribe to their email list. You can use the elements from your design to interest people in what you’re presenting and get them to make a conversion, or complete the action plan you create within your newsletter.

Best Practices for Email Newsletters

There are certain practices you can follow to make your email newsletter designs as engaging and effective as possible for your subscribers. Use these guidelines to polish and perfect your correspondences:

Clean, Crisp Images

Using clear images that fit appropriately in their frame and resize based on the size of the viewing screen can make your newsletters look more professional. Email newsletter images may include photographs, icons, and vector graphics. If you’re using photographs that you’ve taken or hired a photographer to take, be sure you can enlarge and shrink them while preserving quality. You may also consider using stock photos or custom illustrations that fit your specifications.

Consistent Text, Logos, and Icons

Keeping your branding consistent across channels can help increase brand recognition and credibility, especially for newer brands trying to break into a specific market. Once your customers or subscribers associate specific fonts, colors, or images with your brand, they’ll have an easier time recognizing your communications.

Filters, Memes, or Video

In casual and social interactions, it’s now common to put filters on your photos and share memes and videos in place of a traditional conversation. These might be tools you can use in your email newsletter designs depending on your target audience’s relationship with this type of media. You can use funny images or videos in moderation to add a conversational and familiar tone to your interactions to add to your content rather than distract from it.

Obvious CTA

Make your CTA as clear and obvious as possible so the reader understands the mission of the newsletter. Using one prominent CTA is preferable to help you track the metrics for success for the campaign.

CTA Hierarchy

Though you may only use one CTA, it’s helpful to list it up to three times throughout your entire newsletter to give readers multiple opportunities to make the conversion you want. You can do this by creating a CTA hierarchy. Though all your links may point to the same place, you want to make it clear which is the main CTA and which ones are supporting CTAs. The most important one comes first in your content and is the biggest, brightest, or most prominent. Supporting CTAs may restate the same information using lighter colors or solo links instead of buttons.

Mobile Response

Many people have their email accounts linked to their phones to check their messages from anywhere. Consider how your email looks on different mobile devices. Single-column newsletters generally work better because they don’t require a horizontal scroll bar. Optimizing for mobile devices may help you receive more conversions from people who only check their emails on their phones.

Newsletter Length

Learning more about your target audience and their reasoning for subscribing to your email list may help you decide the best length for your newsletter content. This information can help you decide the balance between images and text. For an audience looking for information, you may be able to include more or longer paragraphs in your newsletter. For those who want promotional deals or product advice, you may choose more images. Consider running tests throughout your campaigns to better understand your subscribers and their preferences.

13 Kinds of Newsletters

Email newsletters can come in a variety of styles to meet an organization’s specific purposes. Some types you can use for your company can include:

1. Business Newsletters

Business newsletters can target internal employees or external audiences. They’re based around a specific company and their industry. These types of newsletters may contain information about relevant field news, employees, or job openings.

2. Real Estate Newsletters

Real estate newsletters may focus on one agency or the industry as a whole and target realtors or those in the market to purchase a property. They could include information like selling tips, company news, or information about available properties.

3. Wellness and Health Newsletters

These types of newsletters may contain information related to topics like health care, healthy eating, and exercise. Content could include exercise videos, workout playlists, case studies, and information about new companies in the industry.

4. Monthly Newsletters

Monthly newsletters can contain the broadest types of information. They’re more concerned with delivery time than being framed around specific content. Their common purpose may be to update people about what has happened since the last newsletter and what events or instances may occur before the next.

5. Retail Industry Newsletters

These types of newsletters focus specifically on retail topics like sales or advertising. The target audience could be either internal employees or customers. Internal newsletters may share knowledge articles or opportunities for professional development while external ones may try to make sales.

6. Sign-Up Newsletters

You can trigger these types of emails when you sign up for a specific service but not necessarily by subscribing to an email list. When you complete the registration form, it may ask you if you want to opt-in to emails. If you say yes, your name could go on a list and you’d receive a sign-up newsletter.

7. Nonprofit Newsletters

Nonprofit newsletters may focus on the efforts of the organization internally and out in the community. Information may include staff updates, new projects, partnerships, or fundraising efforts.

8. Classroom Newsletters

Classroom newsletters may help teachers or administrators keep parents and students informed about happenings at the school. Information could include upcoming deadlines, days off, field trips, or classroom expectations.

9. College Newsletters

College newsletters may be a suitable tool for getting information out across the campus to students and faculty. These types may come from the college or certain departments, clubs, or sports teams.

10. Fashion Newsletters

Fashion newsletters may sometimes coincide with retail newsletters, depending on the company. They often focus on new trends and products, styling tips, or thrifting advice.

11. Holiday Newsletters

Holiday newsletters may come out at certain times during the year to focus on discounts or promotions, products that are in season, or the history of certain holidays and their relation to a specific industry.

12. Event Newsletters

Groups may send event newsletters before or after an event. Ones sent before may have a lineup and a CTA to register for the event. Ones that come after an event could include recaps, links to recordings or other content, and provide a registration link for the next big event.

13. FAQ Newsletters

FAQ newsletters may focus on questions from users or customers about certain products or services. They may be most common around product launches or certain times of the year when a product or service is more in demand.

10 Newsletters We Enjoy Receiving in Our Inbox

There are many formats you can use to provide content to customers or users in a way that’s most interesting and accessible for them. Here are 10 types of newsletters that we enjoy receiving in our inboxes.

1. Welcome Newsletters

You may receive welcome newsletters when you subscribe to a new service, register with a new organization, or make a purchase from a new company. These generally give you an overview of the history and mission of the organization. They can also provide welcome incentives as well as recent information that they’ve already provided to their current subscribers.

2. Industry News

Newsletters that focus on industry news can keep you up to date on trends, advancements, and other information that could affect your job or work prospects. They’re also helpful to do some personal professional development for learning new skills or receiving guidance or tips from some of the most successful people in your field.

3. Roundups

Roundups typically include information from a variety of different sites or sources that have a common theme. Companies may use this type of newsletter to share content from all their subsidiary or sister brands. Themes can include anything from business to education to current events. The content can range from articles to videos and add variety to your reading or give different perspectives about similar information.

4. Listicles

Listicles usually provide tips, product suggestions, and other types of recommendations in a quick, easy-to-read format. These may include plenty of options to link to specific products or articles throughout a company site to experience more content in a controlled way.

5. Behind-the-Scenes Content

Receiving a newsletter that focuses on behind-the-scenes content can give the reader a sense of exclusivity, creating or deepening their bond with the company or organization. This may be a good way to encourage the view of a more personal or authentic business and create a feeling of transparency for subscribers.

6. Survey Results

Survey results newsletters can provide data on a variety of topics. These are even more interesting when the reader has taken part in the study by answering a questionnaire or filling out a feedback form. Survey result newsletters can be timely when they’re related to current events or industry trends.

7. Product Launches

Product launch emails can be a fun alternative or supplement to in-person launch parties. They’re an engaging way to introduce new items and involve a wider audience. Offering discount codes or a chance to win one of the new products may be an additional option for encouraging engagement.

8. Product or Service Spotlights

Even when there’s not a product launch, you can still spotlight certain products or services that you offer to bring them to the attention of your subscribers. Some products may become more useful during specific seasons or could benefit from a boost to increase sales at certain times of the year.

9. Employee or Customer Spotlights

Employee and customer spotlights are fun options for both internal and external newsletters. Internally, they can help you learn more about your co-workers or people that have jobs at other locations throughout your company. They can also help you put faces to the names of some of your clients and target audience members. From a customer perspective, it could interest them to learn about the people who create and provide the goods and services that they support.

10. Exclusive Opportunities

Offering exclusive content in newsletters can evoke feelings of belonging or being let in on a secret that others don’t know. This is a powerful tool for brands because it increases bonds of trust with a company and encourages users to keep checking their emails and stay subscribed to find out what special information or clues they might find out next.

How Can Email Design Get Your Brand Loyal Customers?

Engaging directly with your customers can be an exciting way to develop brand loyalty. You can use your email designs and content to encourage these bonds in a variety of ways, which include:

Provide Important Updates

Providing important updates through email newsletters can keep your company or brand forefront in a subscriber’s mind. Regular, engaging connections help them remember the good things about your company or those that are time-sensitive and may interest them. Sharing updates is a way of supplying value easily and cost-effectively.

Offer Free Gifts

Offering free gifts is a great tactic for attracting initial subscribers, but continuing the practice periodically for all readers can help establish brand loyalty. It not only makes customers feel like they’re getting something exclusive that others aren’t, but it can make them feel like your company cares about its clients, customers, or readers. These gifts don’t have to be anything large or expensive. Consider easy incentives like access to a regularly paid e-book or a code for a free song download.

Include Special Offers or Discounts

Offering discount codes, special sales, or buy-one-get-one opportunities is another way to provide value to customers with no extra work or strenuous load on your organization. This may also give subscribers but hesitant buyers a chance to try your products at a discount and develop love, a need, or use for them that turns into customer loyalty.

Create Brand Loyalty Programs

Brand loyalty programs are a fun way to encourage people to purchase more products or engage more with your services to earn rewards. These may come in the form of extra discount codes, free samples, or shoutouts on social media.

Integrate Social Media

Using a crossover strategy between your email newsletter campaigns and your social media platforms may help people become more involved with your company through different channels. This allows you to connect with them in different ways and become invested in your brand through the content you provide.

Email Newsletter Design Tips to Boost Clicks and Engagement

Email newsletters can be a great tool for increasing brand awareness and loyalty through clicks and engagement. Use these tips to help optimize your designs for success.

Write a Great Subject Line

The subject line of an email may be the first and only thing a subscriber reads before deciding if they want to open your message. In fact, according to, 47% of people decide whether an email is worth opening based on this element alone. Optimizing your subject lines for mobile devices, making them original, and including elements like emojis may make your articles more clickable to subscribers.

Choose the Best Sender Name

Sender names can help provide credibility to your email newsletters. Well-known brands may be able to use their brand name as a sender address, but it can be more personal to have the sender name be an employee name. The name and location of the sender can help a reader decide if the email is safe to open or if it should go to their spam folder.

Use the Right Email Template

Using a template can help your email newsletter look its best when it arrives in a subscriber’s inbox. Look for and create templates that are functional on desktop and mobile devices and can resize images and text on different screen sizes. Keep templates consistent for different kinds of emails, especially if you run a variety of different campaigns with the same sender address.

Brand Your Emails

Email newsletters are a great way to increase your branding with customers. Include your logo or other images from across your website and social media channels. This helps increase credibility and consistency. It can also boost trust and engagement.

Use Web-Safe Fonts

Some fonts are easier to read than others, especially on screens. Choosing the right font can help dictate how your customers perceive your newsletter. Choosing web-safe fonts can ensure that your newsletter displays the way you want it to across different email clients and devices. It’s also an excellent choice for increasing accessibility and creating an uncluttered experience for readers.

Pay Attention to Images

Consider the type of images you’re sharing with clients. Consider their sources and how the content of the images relates to the written content in your newsletters. Some people prefer to see more images, while others disable images in their emails. Consider these options when choosing and placing images to provide the best quality for all readers.

Set the Mood With Color

Color schemes can help with establishing brand recognition, creating an aesthetic, and influencing purchases. You can use both your brand’s colors and complementary or contrasting colors to set a mood, such as themes for seasonal campaigns.

Keep Text Short

The goal of a newsletter is the opposite of your website. You want people to click through links in your newsletters to visit websites or landing pages to complete conversions. According to Constant Contact, emails that are approximately 200 words have the best click-through rate. You can run tests with your subscribers to find the right balance of text and images to complete the most conversions.

Make It Scannable

Because you’re trying to get people from your email newsletters to your online presence, making them more scannable can help people find the most important links and information easily. You can do this through strategic design and structure planning to draw the gaze to certain elements. Grouping things into sections and using subheadings and bullet points can help people find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible.

Make Your Emails Accessible

When talking about emails and online content, accessibility means making sure that any reader or user can easily interact with your content, no matter their impairments or disabilities. In some places, there are legal requirements to meet accessibility needs, but it’s good practice even without mandates. Consider things like adding alt text to images, using accessible fonts in large sizes, and smaller blocks of text in your formatting.

Create an HTML Email That Looks Like Plain Text

Plain text refers to content that doesn’t have special formatting. While it may be cleaner for a reader, it’s less preferred for an email creator because it creates unclean links, makes it harder to track clicks, and doesn’t offer much flexibility for design. By using a combined plain text and HTML email method, you can have more creative options while still getting the basic feel of a plain text email.

Nail the CTA Design

One of the primary goals of your email newsletters is to get clicks from subscribers and get them to convert on your CTA. Make sure it’s visible and written in actionable language. Provide it in different formats throughout the email, up to three times. This gives people multiple chances to engage. You can also use color to influence your subscribers’ feelings about the CTA, such as using red for urgency.

Test Your Email

As stated earlier, email newsletters can appear differently to subscribers depending on their email clients. Send yourself a test email and resize the browser window to see how it looks and view the email on your phone. Consider opening accounts with multiple web clients to send the test email to all of them to preview the content.

Use these tips to help design your next email newsletter. Whether you’re looking to sell products, increase your engagement, or share a vast amount of knowledge with your target audience, perfecting your email newsletter design templates can help you meet your goals. Keeping your newsletter designs clean and accessible may help you reach the widest audience and keep people wanting more of your content with each new communication.

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Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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