The Ultimate Guide to Creating Engaging Email Newsletters in 2024

Email newsletters remain one of the most powerful tools for building relationships, providing value, and driving business results. In fact, email generates $42 for every $1 spent, which is an astounding 4,200% ROI, making it one of the most effective marketing channels available.

However, with the average person receiving over 100 emails per day, it‘s more important than ever to create newsletters that stand out and deliver real value to your subscribers. Here is the ultimate guide to crafting engaging email newsletters that get results in 2024.

Set Clear Goals and Success Metrics

Before diving into tactics, it‘s crucial to define what success looks like for your email newsletter. What are the key objectives you want to achieve? Some common newsletter goals include:

  • Increasing brand awareness and staying top-of-mind
  • Driving traffic to your website or blog
  • Generating leads and sales
  • Building deeper relationships with customers
  • Reducing churn and improving retention

Based on your primary goal(s), determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) you will track, such as:

  • Open rate: % of subscribers who open your emails
  • Click-through rate (CTR): % who click on links in your emails
  • Conversion rate: % who take a desired action like making a purchase
  • Bounce rate: % of emails that aren‘t delivered
  • Unsubscribe rate: % who opt-out of your emails
  • List growth rate: How quickly you‘re adding new subscribers
  • Forward/share rate: How often your emails are shared
  • Overall ROI: Revenue generated per dollar spent

Research Your Audience and Segment Your List

To create newsletters people actually want to read, you need a deep understanding of your target audience, including their needs, interests, challenges, and preferences. Some methods to gain these insights:

  • Surveys and interviews
  • Website and social media analytics
  • Customer service and sales team feedback
  • Competitive research
  • Creating buyer personas

Armed with this information, segment your email list so you can better tailor your message and content. Some ways to segment subscribers:

  • Demographics: age, gender, income, job title, etc.
  • Behavior: email engagement, website activity, past purchases
  • Interests: content topics, product categories
  • Stage of the customer journey: new leads vs long-time customers
  • Geography: country, state, city, or time zone

According to HubSpot, marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue. Yet 89% of marketers do not segment their database. Start segmenting to deliver more relevant, personalized newsletters.

Develop a Compelling Content Strategy

Your newsletter content is the core of providing value to subscribers. An effective content strategy:

  • Aligns with your audience‘s interests and your business goals
  • Provides a healthy mix of educational and promotional content
  • Incorporates different content types and media formats
  • Encourages interaction and feedback
  • Has a consistent voice, tone, and style

Gather content ideas from sources like:

  • Most popular blog posts and website pages
  • Customer FAQs and support tickets
  • Keyword research and search trends
  • Social listening and online communities
  • Team brainstorms and knowledge sharing

Examples of engaging B2B and B2C newsletter content:

  • Industry news and insights
  • How-to guides and tutorials
  • Infographics and data visualizations
  • Videos and podcasts
  • Case studies and customer stories
  • Interviews with experts or influencers
  • Behind-the-scenes and company culture
  • Surveys and research reports
  • Product tips and use cases
  • Sales, discounts, and special offers

Plan an Editorial Calendar

Consistency is key to a successful email newsletter. Create an editorial calendar outlining your content plans and send frequency. Most marketers send newsletters weekly (86%) or monthly (37%). However, your optimal cadence depends on your audience, goals, and bandwidth.

Use a spreadsheet or tool to map out your newsletter topics, authors, formats, and publish dates in advance. Plan around key themes, seasons, events, product launches, etc.

Leave some flexibility to feature timely content. According to Litmus, 12.3% of email content was made up of timely, contextual elements last year and it‘s a growing trend, so make room for agile content.

Design Newsletters for Engagement

Good email design guides readers through your content and compels them to take action. Follow these best practices:

  • Put the most important content at the top
  • Include a clear, prominent call-to-action button
  • Break up text with headings, bulleted lists, and white space
  • Add compelling images that complement your copy
  • Keep your design clean and focused
  • Ensure brand consistency with colors, fonts, and voice
  • Optimize for mobile (81% of users check email on mobile devices)
  • Use an email template to save time and maintain consistency
  • Test your design across different devices and email clients

Write Newsletters People Want to Read

Even the best designed emails fall flat without great copywriting. To boost engagement:

  • Craft direct, curiosity-provoking subject lines under 50 characters
  • Limit yourself to one key message per email
  • Write in a conversational, human tone
  • Use "you" and "your" to speak directly to the reader
  • Provide value with relevant, actionable content
  • Keep copy concise using short sentences and paragraphs
  • Highlight key information with bold text, italics, and color
  • Have one clear call-to-action
  • Add a P.S. line to reinforce your main message
  • Use urgency and FOMO when appropriate
  • Proofread thoroughly and test all links

Your copy should ultimately drive clicks to your website, landing page, or app to continue engagement with your brand.

Leverage Personalization

Personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates but 70% of brands fail to use them. Go beyond just using first name by using dynamic email content that adapts based on triggers like location, purchase history, email engagement, etc.

For example, show new product recommendations tailored to past buying behavior. Highlight local events or offers based on geolocation. Suggest content similar to what that subscriber has read in the past.

Get started with dynamic content blocks you can drop into your email template and customize for different segments. Just be sure to follow privacy laws and avoid seeming like "Big Brother."

Optimize for Mobile

Over 40% of emails are opened on smartphones and tablets in 2024, so design with mobile in mind:

  • Use a responsive template that adapts to screen size
  • Keep subject lines under 30 characters to avoid cutoff
  • Put key content and CTAs near the top
  • Use a single-column layout and large, touch-friendly buttons
  • Include alt text for images
  • Minimize image file sizes to enable fast load times
  • Test emails on multiple mobile devices/email apps

A/B Test and Improve

A/B testing just one element of your emails can boost conversions by 49%. Top things to test:

  • Subject lines
  • Sender name/address
  • Call-to-action copy and placement
  • Body copy length and formatting
  • Images and videos
  • Personalization
  • Send day and time

Start with your subject line as it‘s the biggest factor in whether your email even gets opened. Test things like length, statement vs question, including numbers, capitalization, etc.

Only test one variable at a time so you can accurately pinpoint what‘s working. Let each test run until you have a large enough sample size (at least 1,000 opens) and a statistical significance of 95%+.

Track and Refine Your Results

The average email open rate across all industries is 21.33% in 2024. How do your newsletters compare? Regularly review your key metrics to gauge performance and identify areas for improvement.

Benchmark your results against past campaigns and industry averages. See which segments, content types, and design elements are generating the highest engagement.

Use those insights to continually optimize your newsletters over time. Also keep an eye on email deliverability as ISPs tighten spam filters. Prune inactive subscribers and maintain list hygiene to maximize inbox placement.

Email Newsletter Examples to Inspire You

Theory11 uses vivid product images with a clear CTA button:

[Insert Theory11 example]

Curated adds variety with guest posts and keeps their content teases compelling:

[Insert Curated example]

Litmus highlights a single topic per email and makes great use of animated GIFs:

[Insert Litmus example]

Spotify uses dynamic content to recommend new music based on subscribers‘ listening history:

[Insert Spotify example]

The Hustle keeps things concise while telling fascinating business stories:

[Insert The Hustle example]

Start Sending Better Email Newsletters

Creating email newsletters that engage readers and drive results is both an art and science. Focus on providing real value, leverage data to personalize, and always be testing and iterating.

Remember, email marketing is a long game centered on building trusting relationships. Deliver consistent quality and put your audience‘s needs first.

Looking for more help with your email newsletter strategy? Download our complete Email Marketing Guide for dozens more tips and tools to level up your newsletters in 2024 and beyond.