Five tips for newsletter success

FIPP’s new Innovation in Magazine Media 2015-2016 World Report includes a chapter on newsletters, well worth a read. Find out more about the report here.

Below, Innovation Media Consulting’s John Wilpers, co-editor of the Innovation World Report curates five tips for success from’s director of digital innovation Callie Schweitzer and managing editor Edward Felsenthal, Quartz’s Simon Davies, and Prof. Brad Best’s analytic advertising class at the Missouri School of Journalism.

1. Don’t make your readers search for the sign-up page

Put sign-up buttons in prominent locations throughout your website, especially at the top of articles.

2. Make the sign-up process easy

Signing up for your newsletter should be hassle-free. Quartz only asks for your email address and your time zone (to deliver the newsletter at 6am your time). Ask only for essential information; fewer steps equal happier subscribers. 

3. Show restraint in your subject line length and tone

As tempting as it is to jam your newsletter subject line with tonnes of topics to lure readers in, learned through A/B testing that overloaded subject lines actually decrease open rates. As a result, editors use a maximum of 45 characters in subject lines, which also result in the subject lines being readable in full on most smartphones.

Subject-line restraint also applies to its tone: “I always think about the subject line as something that’s going to make a reader take an action,” Schweitzer told The Poynter Institute. “But that does not mean being sensational.”

4. Deliver on the subject line’s promise

With some newsletters, “it’s hard to find the reason you clicked,”’s managing editor Edward Felsenthal told Poynter. The story in the subject line should be the top story in the body of the email.

5. Design your newsletters in a mobile-friendly fashion

Make sure your subscribers can easily read articles and click links when viewing your newsletters on their mobile devices.

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