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xceptional Email Newsletters with Salesforce Marketing Cloud

5 Best Practices to Create Exceptional Email Newsletters with Salesforce Marketing Cloud

A deep-dive into best practices to follow when building successful newsletter campaigns in SFMC ...

A thoughtfully created, well-designed newsletter can connect your brand to your audience and improve your credibility and authority. Over time, it will increase brand recognition and help you build strong relationships with customers. But only when done right.

There’s plenty you can do to create effective newsletters that resonate with your audiences, create natural and direct touchpoints with them, and increase your brand’s visibility and value. One is to use Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) as your ESP. Another is to follow the five best practices given below. Ready to make your newsletters shine? Read on!

#1: Nail the subject line

For commercial emails, the “battle for the inbox” is a real struggle. The average person receives hundreds of emails a day. So how can your newsletters stand out amid all this clutter? With a powerful subject line!

One of the first things a person sees in their inbox is email subject lines. If they receive multiple brand emails, they are unlikely to open them all, much less read them or act on them. However, you can get your subscribers to open your emails by creating subject lines that:

  • Are compelling and unique
  • Reflect the value the newsletter will provide them
  • Use language and words that attract attention
  • Encourage further engagement with personalization, offers, incentives, etc.

SFMC’s tools like Email Studio will help you create amazing 1-on-1 newsletter campaigns with optimized subject lines. You can also use Einstein Copy Insights, an AI-based feature, to uncover language insights in subject lines and make changes to drive more engagement.

Also keep these best practices in mind:

  • Keep subject lines short. Aim for a ballpark of about 50-90 characters
  • Give the reader a preview of the email’s content so they want to open the message and know more
  • Use numbers to inspire curiosity
  • Choose words that create a sense of mystery or urgency
  • Add personalization. Even a first name can make a huge difference to open rates

Another tip – try emojis if they fit with your brand’s overall tone, voice, and vibe. When used properly, emojis can add creativity to subject lines and inspire recipients to open the newsletter. Just don’t overdo the smileys, otherwise your newsletters will look spammy and subscribers will go straight to the Delete button.

Chipotle uses one single emoji in its subject line. But it’s more than enough since it perfectly complements the emotion of the text:

Chipotle- newsletter
Image Source

#2: Make newsletters mobile-friendly

As mobile use grows, mobile opens account for a substantial number of total email opens, with some sources saying that 4/10 of emails are opened on mobile phones. That’s why your newsletters must be mobile-friendly.

To create a mobile-friendly design, choose a template that will look good on both desktop and mobile devices. SFMC will help you with this, since it contains both types of templates plus content blocks for mobile-optimized newsletters. Templates are responsive since they automatically resize newsletters when viewed on a mobile device.

Use these out-of-the-box templates and update content blocks as required to quickly create newsletters and send them to your target audience. When building the template, select a responsive layout. Also preview and test all elements of the newsletter on different devices and screen sizes to ensure that the mobile version loads correctly on every device.

When designing newsletters in SFMC, consider these options:

Other best practices to keep in mind for mobile newsletters:

  • Maintain your brand’s overall look-and-feel
  • Include concise sentences and section headers to improve readability on smaller devices
  • Include white space around the landing page link and the Unsubscribe link

Another good tip: CTA buttons should be at least 44 x 44 pixels for mobile. Include clear labels and make sure the CTA stands out from the rest of the copy.

#3: Include valuable copy

Since newsletters are not salesy marketing tools, you are not trying to sell your products. Rather, you want to provide useful, appealing information to an interested audience. The first step to create copy that addresses the recipient’s unique profile and needs is to decide its purpose. What do you want your email copy to do: Entertain? Inform? Convince? The copy should clearly reflect this purpose and deliver value accordingly.

Place the most important content first. Add CTAs to encourage action (“Download eBook”, “Shop Now”, etc.). You can have more than one CTA and include the same CTA more than once. Just make sure to give the reader only one thing to do. Don’t confuse them with a CTA like “Download this eBook to invite a friend and shop more”!

Reinforce the copy and its main message with visuals. Photos, GIFs, and other media enhance a newsletter and provide more enjoyable user experiences. They also increase newsletter click-through rates by 42% or more. But don’t overwhelm the reader with too many visual elements. Graphics, photos, and video should enhance the message, not detract from it. A newsletter with multiple moving parts that confuse the reader won’t be read. Worse, it may be marked as spam and you may see more Unsubscribes than you want to.

The Sonos newsletter includes high-quality copy that’s well-organized and flows beautifully:

Sonos- newsletter
Image Source

Also remember these best practices when designing newsletter copy and imagery:

  • Copy should reflect your brand’s voice
  • Avoid using auto-play audio elements
  • Each media element should complement the text
  • Use SFMC to preview how copy and images render on different devices
  • Use video content to engage with the audience and encourage more opens

#4: Get the design basics right: Use fonts and colors wisely

In your newsletters, what you say (copy) is as important as how you say it (design). High-quality and valuable copy is digestible and readable. It also has:

  • A logical flow
  • Well-placed sections
  • Good line spacing
  • Readable fonts

In every newsletter, use a simple, clean template. Embrace white space so the reader doesn’t feel bombarded with too much information. Use complementary and contrasting colors strategically to grab attention and ensure that the reader can easily read every part of the newsletter without strain. For example, use a dark color against a white background for the copy and a lighter color against a dark-colored CTA button.

Also choose web-safe fonts. Avoid fancy fonts with unreadable curlicues and other bells-and-whistles. Stick to the classics like Arial or Times New Roman that render properly across a majority of devices.

Some more newsletter design tips:

  • Make sure content is visible to everyone, even to visually-impaired readers
  • Use fonts that are big enough to be read by any reader on any device
  • Include alt text in all images so that even if the images don’t render, people still know what they say
  • Use bold colors to highlight products and other important information

Target gets it right with a balanced combination of text, visuals, and colors (particularly its signature red)

Target-newsletter
Image source

#5: Optimize the newsletter audience, frequency, send time

For millions of people, digital devices are an extension of their arms and brains. Knowing this, you have an opportunity to get your newsletter to the right audience at the right time. To find the “right” audience, you must understand them better. For this, do your research to find your target audience based on factors like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Profession
  • Interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes

Then segment your audience based on your newsletter goals. Segmentation ensures that the newsletter only goes to those subscribers who want to receive it. A captive audience is crucial for more opens and click-throughs so don’t skip this step during newsletter planning.

Next, optimize send time and frequency by researching your segment to understand when they are most likely to open your newsletters and how frequently they prefer to receive them. SFMC includes features to help you with both. For example, Einstein Send Time Optimization (STO) can predict optimal send times when a subscriber is more likely to open and engage with your newsletter. You can also view the STO dashboard to predict future message engagement and tweak your newsletter send times and frequencies accordingly.

SFMC also includes powerful features for A/B testing and preference center setup so you can understand your subscribers’ frequency and timing preferences. By prioritizing A/B testing, you can give the audience what they want to increase engagement as well as opens and clicks. Implementing a custom preference center will help you manage subscribers’ preferences around newsletter type and frequency. They will be able to decide how they want you to contact them, how often, and about what topics. They can even unsubscribe easily if they no longer want to hear from you. Giving subscribers these easy options is a great way to build two-side relationships and maintain their interest in your newsletter offerings.

Wrap-up

We hope these five best practices guide your newsletter efforts in SFMC and enable your brand to reach its full potential. For more customized support or advice, contact the Email Uplers team. We will show you exactly how to put these tips into practice and achieve your marketing goals with unique, on-brand newsletters that impress, wow, and convert.

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Chintan Doshi

Chintan is the Sr. Manager Email Marketing & CRM at Email Uplers. He loves email marketing and has been in the industry from last seven years. His track record of email marketing success covers building email programs from scratch and using data-driven strategies to turn around underperforming accounts.

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