How to Write an Effective Email Newsletter

January 30, 2010

Note: This post was originally published on the WebMarketCentral blog.

A few years ago, I was tasked with reviving a declining company newsletter. In the previous six months, subscriptions had declined by 50%, and unsubscribes were significantly outpacing new subscriptions. Over the next six months, subscription increased by more than 400% and the rate of unsubscribes was reduced by 90%. How did that happen?

First, the newsletter was split into two separate publications. One went only to customers, and focused on topics customers cared about: new product releases, patches, usage tips, changes in support offerings or hours, customer events and the like. The other version – the prospect newsletter – was designed primarily to appeal to prospects, although existing customers were welcome to sign up. It was completely reoriented from an all-about-us format (“Our new product is the greatest thing since boneless chicken, yada yada…”) to more an industry newsletter that just happened to be sponsored by the company.

Next, the newsletters were promoted separately, with the customer version promoted only through communications to existing customers, and the prospect version promoted using a variety of other marketing methods. After testing several programs, the most successful turned out to be promoting a white paper in popular trade publication newsletters (such as IndustryWeek) and promoting newsletter opt-in on the white paper download registration page. It was also promoted on the company’s home page—which is long gone now, but you can see how the newsletter was promoted in the upper right of this page (click on the icon that looks like a newspaper, next to the pop cans) from the Wayback Machine.

The key to retaining readers, however, and getting them to encourage others to subscribe, was to revamp the content — to change it from dull to dynamic, from insipid to interesting, from stuffy to stimulating. For instructions on how to accomplish that task, check out the new How to Write Effective Email Newsletters page on

Despite the increasing ubiquity of newsletters, they can still be an effective marketing tool—if written from the perspective of the reader rather than the sponsor.

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8 Responses

  1. Hi thanks for sharing this article, I’ve just visited the link you have provided and it really helps me understand how to create a good email newsletter for my clients.

    Hiyashi Panghi

  2. These tips are really helpful. I’m trying to do my assignment in school regarding creating an effective newsletter and I think I can make it on time using this blog post of your.

    Thank You,

  3. Lorna 

    Thanks for the tips, I am looking for ways to spice up my current newsletter, you have given me a good starting point! Thanks again!

  4. These tips are really helpful, really appreciate you sharing them. Needed a different way to approach my new newsletter!


  5. Janis 

    So how did the former newsletter looked like?

    Thanks for your tips and links anyway! They will be of great help really, especially to people like me who are just starting to build something online.

  6. Your links and tips will help me, a new approach to my newsletter.

  7. Great info and good source for new business startups like myself. Just trying to get my head around the concept of newsletters so thanks for sharing.

  8. Tom 

    No worries, glad you found this post and found it helpful!

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