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5 ways to create an engaging email newsletter or campaign

21st April 2021
Reading Time
12 minutes

With the number of global email users reaching 4 billion in 2020, email marketing can be a very successful, proven way of marketing to your customers.

The winning formula? Craft something engaging that helps to build a strong and loyal base of supporters and followers.

This needs to be something that offers your recipient value or learning, or makes them feel part of a community. If it looks in any way suspicious or spammy or reads as a hard sales email, your reader is likely either to scroll past it without opening it, or to quickly abandon it after a first glance at the content.

Below we look at some of the ways you can design an email newsletter or campaign with reader engagement in mind.

1. Craft an inviting subject line

There is definitely an argument around what constitutes a great email subject line. Generally something short, snappy and that will stand out among a sea of other subject lines will do the job, but let’s dig a little deeper.

Do you personalise your email subject lines with a first or last name? Research carried out by Mailchimp found that personalised subject lines do increase open rate and subject lines that include both a reader’s first and second name saw the biggest increase. Hubspot also found that including the first name of the recipient in a subject line led to a higher clickthrough rate than those that don’t. With that in mind, next time you are crafting a subject line, think about how and whether it would be appropriate to include the first and/or second name of your recipient. You could even A/B test your email campaign using your standard subject line in one and a personalised subject line in the other.

Mailchimp also found that subject lines including words of urgency saw an increase in open rates. This may seem like an obvious one, but is something that probably isn’t best to lean on if you are sending frequent emails as readers will cotton on and it may even have a negative impact. There may be a certain amount of learned buyer fatigue at sales clichés like ‘Hurry! Sale must end at midnight!’

As much as you can follow the data on what works well for crafting a winning subject line, it will be very much dependent on the content of your email. It does need to be relevant and show what your email is offering. If you can crack that, you’re halfway there.


2. Include specific calls-to-action

Half the job is getting your recipient to open your email, the other half is maintaining their attention once they have made that choice to open it. Where relevant, adding a specific direction for your recipient can be a helpful pointer in terms of what you would like them to do with the information you have presented in your email newsletter or campaign.

This will depend on the tone and subject of the email. As we’ve mentioned, an overly salesy email is unlikely to be popular as this is the type of email that we are typically constantly bombarded with throughout the week by websites we’ve bought from or had dealings with in the past, as well as from spammers we’ve never interacted with at all.

However, if you are offering the chance for the recipient to learn more about a product or inviting them to trial something, tell them. Make it clear what you would like them do and how it would be adding value for them. These types of reasoned directions are likely to be met with more favourable responses, and in the longer term have the potential to build a stronger relationship with that recipient. This could lead to a sale or a take-up of your service at a later date.

It is also a good idea to stick to one particular action or direction within your email, as proposing numerous alternative actions has the potential to overwhelm. Your recipient may not understand the intent of your email or may find all the possibilities too tiring and time-consuming to consider and end up taking no action at all.


3. Own a theme

The best newsletter and email campaigns are those that leave their recipients eagerly awaiting the ping of their inbox with an email from your business or service. Think about how you can craft your email in order to make it stand out. We probably don’t have to tell you that most email inboxes are constantly overflowing with all sorts of offers, promotions and spam on a regular basis.

How can you make your newsletter different and something your reader will actively look out for in the future? Think about what you can offer them and how it will add value for them. Can you offer something informative or educational? Can you offer advice or solve a problem for them?

Choose a theme that you want your email to be known for, and make your readers want to keep coming back for more.


4. Pick a regular time to send

Being consistent with your email campaign sending will mean that your readers will get accustomed as to when you normally send an email out, in terms of time of day, day of the week, or time of the month. They will expect it, and if you are lucky may even look out for it in their inbox for any wisdom you may be offering. Consistency is key, but quantity is not a substitute for quality. Don’t let the quality of your email slide just because you are attempting to send once a week. If this isn’t doable, extend it to once every two weeks or once a month if this means that you can ensure that the content will be valuable to your reader. Once they have established your email campaign as a source of high-grade educational, informative, interesting or entertaining content, they are likely to keep coming back for more.


5. Test, test, test

We’ve mentioned this briefly in point one, but no matter how much time and effort you spend on crafting an exceptional email, you do still need to test. Testing is the best way to see how your email list will react to content that you want to share. It is needed as your email list will be specific to your business, so there is no definite right or wrong way of doing things.

Continued testing will also allow you to constantly makes tweaks and improvements that could help with your open and click-through rate.

It should be something that you are doing regularly as over time your list will grow and evolve. Recipients’ tastes will change, along with what is important to them. Without this kind of testing, your emails could become stale and lead to low engagement or even unsubscribes.


The power of email is not something that should be ignored. If you can succeed in building an engaged email list, it offers a loyal audience base for your business that you can call on at any time. This is within reason, however: to maintain engagement, quality cannot be comprised – otherwise, you risk losing your readers. Try one or more of the points mentioned above in order to increase engagement, but remember: test as you go to determine what works best for your audience.

If you feel your business could use some expert help in this area, check out our Email Campaign services and see how we can help you. Get in touch with one of the promotional services team at GWS Media today.


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