successful newsletters

8 Secrets Behind The World’s Most Successful Newsletters

A newsletter is one of the most common kinds of marketing email sent, yet it remains one of the toughest to get right. Almost every brand wants to have a crack at it as it gives you a direct option to communicate with your potential customers.

But what makes a newsletter successful?

Let’s take a look at what popular newsletters like Healthline, Nat Geo, and The New York Times have in common and what you can do with your next newsletter planning to engage your subscribers better than ever.

successful newsletters


8 Secrets behind the world’s most successful newsletters

A newsletter is an email that people subscribed to your mailing list receive on a periodic basis. It contains useful information pertaining to their interests along with informing them about deals and offers as well as what you are up to.

Newsletters are a great way to keep the audiences in the know and form a direct connection with them. However, many brands often struggle to strike the correct balance.

If you too are looking for ways to make your newsletter more engaging and one that converts, here are some of the secrets behind the most successful newsletters to give you some ideas. Keep reading.

1. Include infographics

As many as 67% of marketers use infographics in their marketing content.

The power of visual content in attracting interested people is not even in question anymore. Infographics help visualize tedious data, tell a story, and present information in engaging ways.

For example, here is an infographic from a McDonald’s newsletter that instructs how healthcare workers can avail themselves a thank you meal from a McDonald’s restaurant:


The use of the infographics highlights a process, breaking it up to make it easier to understand. Similarly, you can use infographics in your newsletters to break up the walls of text and make the content more breathable.

Click here to learn how to make an infographic in minutes. Remember that like all things that fo in a content piece, infographics should also be used as and when needed. Stuffing up the entire page will detract from the original purpose.

2. Ace the signup

The process of acing the perfect newsletter begins before the subscriber even gets to the newsletter. Signups are the form a person fills in to receive a newsletter. They need to be engaging and convincing enough for a person to willingly register themselves.

Learn more about creating the best newsletter signup here.  First things first, your form needs to be visually appealing — one that attracts the attention of the user right away. Next, list out clearly what they are to gain from signing up for the newsletter.

You can even go as far as to give the users the option to choose what they want to receive from you. The way National Geographic’s newsletter sign up does it in the below:


This gives subscribers the freedom to choose the content they want to see. It in turn increases engagement with the future content as it becomes one that is catered to them instead of being generic. 

3. Provide value

The purpose of a newsletter for a subscriber is to receive useful, important, and unique information about the topics they care about and that they might not get anywhere else. 

Ironically, many brands don’t get this aspect right as they focus more on advertising their products or other arbitrary logistics.

The sole focus of your newsletter should be to provide value to your customer. The promotional material should not exceed more than 10% of the content. The idea is to quietly slip in the advertising without it being too noticeable.


Healthline newsletters (in the example above) have aced the formula of creating a valuable USP. They provide findings and studies as the first source — making their newsletters a genuinely valuable resource to their subscribers. This brings them authentic engagements and increases their goodwill.

4. Pick attractive subject lines

The job isn’t done once you get people to sign up to your mailing list. Because even after signing up, they are not guaranteed to open up your email. You have to get them to open the mail.

Don’t rely on generic subject headings such as ‘September newsletter’ because they are easy to get lost in the sea of emails a person receives on a daily basis. Instead, be creative with them.

Create urgency in the reader to open the email to know the important thing you are telling them. As depicted in the example below:

The headline can be about a survey finding in the newsletter. Or an offer the reader cannot refuse. Or simply a piece of important news the reader ought to know about. Make sure it’s short, precise, and conveys the message without being clickbait-y. 

5. Have a clear CTA

Any content piece used in marketing most probably has a call to action you want the reader to take upon consuming it. And since a newsletter contains multiple pieces of content, there is a possibility of having multiple CTAs that can feel overwhelming to a reader. 

The simple solution is to have an overarching CTA that every content piece may lead to. And any different CTA you may have can be one that isn’t demanding or urgent.

A CTA that says something like ‘consider this if you can or if you have time’ lets the reader know they can always come back to it whenever they want. It doesn’t feel pressing or overwhelming. Most importantly, it doesn’t confuse the reader. 

6. Take care if compatibility on mobile

46% of emails are opened on mobile today. Mobiles are becoming just as important players as desktops, laptops, and tablets when it comes to email marketing. The key difference they have from the other devices is that they have significantly smaller screens. 

Therefore, it’s important to optimize your content for mobile. The text is the most important factor in it. Your copy needs to be short, precise and broken up into multiple paragraphs. Try to use images that don’t have a great height.

Space the content out and break up the text with pictures, videos, and infographics. It keeps it fresh and engaging for the readers. Play around with fonts to make important bits stand out more.

The New York Times newsetter (in the example below) is a great example of a simplistic design that is both easy to load and compatible on all devices. Not to mention easy on the eyes by using a fair bit of elements to highlight the stories.

successful newsletters


7. Keep it simple

Many brands get caught up in creating the most stunning-looking newsletters that take too much time and energy. The fact of the matter is that no matter how great your newsletter is, it is still going to be perused only once.

It renders using time-consuming designs useless. This applies to everything from content and copy to images and design. Keep it minimal and focus more on delivering the value you promised to the readers.


The above example of the newsletter from The Weekly Roast perfectly illustrates the policy of keeping things simple. It used subdued colors and minimal text but vibrant images to capture your attention.

This is the kind of structure that is not too time-consuming to create. The images don’t take too long to load on the mobile and there is a clear CTA for the users to know what the brand wants them to do post reading the email.

8. Keep learning

The last trick that successful newsletters use is that they keep evolving with the times. Even if your newsletter model is successful, you should strive to do better. Trends keep on changing and you should always look to capitalize on them.

Keep learning from the newsletters or brands you admire. The easiest way to do this is to subscribe to a newsletter of your choice and see what you like the most and least in it. Try to emulate it with your newsletter. 

Another way to do this is to directly ask your subscribers what they enjoy in the content from you and where they would want you to improve. People who are subscribed to you are already interested in what you have to say. They are likely going to enthusiastically respond to a question like this.

Lastly, you have tools like A/B testing at your perusal to examine your experiments. Tweaking around the mails and seeing which option works better helps you create better, more personalized content for your readers. 

9. Conclusion

Newsletters are the most common kinds of emails sent by a brand. It makes them all the more important to stand out from the crowd. The key to newsletter success lies in experimentation and learning from your mistakes.

Remember that trends change swiftly and you should strive to keep up with them. At the end of the day, it is about providing value to the subscribers who choose to be associated with your brand.

Let us know in the comments what you think are the most important aspects of a newsletter that you would wish to nail.

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