The design of your newsletter depends to a large extent on the visual and clicking habits of your target group. 

Especially at the beginning, you may struggle with finding out what exactly catches the eye of your customers, be it the youthful MTV Generation or the culture- enthused senior citizens.

There are however a few universal rules for the design of a newsletter, you should follow strictly - regardless of your target audience.

The basic rules of newsletter design:

  1. Email recipients seem to be often annoyed if download time takes too long due to large amounts of data. As a rule of thumb, you therefore shouldn’t exceed thirty kilobytes in the B2C sector and sixty kilobytes in the B2B area. Spam filters do not like large emails either and those over a hundred kilobytes land more quickly in spam folders.
  2. Limit the width of your newsletter. For HTML newsletters 550 to 600 pixels are recommended. Regarding text newsletters, you should write, if possible, not more than 65 characters per line.
  3. Newsletters are read quickly. Therefore, use short and meaningful sentences. Avoid textual wasteland and lengthy teasers.
  4. The font of the text should in no case have less than size11 and in general should not change too often in an email, as it has the effect of looking blatant and dubious. You should also avoid writing words in capital letters.
  5. Use sans-serif fonts like Arial or Verdana as fonts with serifs make the reading of texts on screen more difficult.
  6. Regarding sentences, the beginning of your newsletter usually gets the greatest attention so therefore, always put important information in front. Example: Instead of "5 years Asian e-marketing - 20 percent discount on advertorials!" you'd better write "20 percent discount on advertorials - Asian e-Marketing is turning 5!"
  7. The preview window receives in general most attention and there ought to be available here the most relevant information. Do not waste this space with unnecessary graphics or meaningless corporate logos.
  8. Create a clear and concise structure in your newsletter. This can be achieved by using paragraphs, bullet points and subheadings. A table of contents is compulsory as well, while three to five topics are often sufficient.
  9. Email marketing is relationship marketing, so make use of the greatest advantage of email marketing namely personalization. For example, a salutation like: "Dear Mr. Smith" should be in any case preferred to a salutation like "Dear newsletter readers”.
  10. The subject line usually determines if your newsletter gets opened at all. A good subject line is short (not longer than thirty to forty characters), meaningful and descriptive.
  11. Make sure that your newsletter with be displayed correctly with the most common email programs. So, keep the HTML code easy. In some email programs (such as Outlook 2007), there are display restrictions that you should consider implicitly.
  12. Your newsletter design and your website design should form a unit. Take advantage of a consistent corporate design for customer loyalty.
  13. Images of people are usually conceived very intensively, so keep this in mind when presenting your products.
  14. Users click anywhere - not just on links. Offer therefore many options to click. Images should be linked at all costs. Titles and price information can be linked as well, but do not overdo it: spam filters are allergic to too many link units in newsletters.
  15. Navigation menus are - especially if they go over the entire width of the email - a perfect wall, which ensures that there is no further reading. Therefore, it is necessary to put menus in a marginal column or at the end of your newsletter.
  16. Avoid trade jargon and make sure that the content of your newsletter is understandable by everybody.
  17. Avoid spelling errors.
  18. Mind to use a bright background, so that the recipient can print out your newsletter better.
  19. Avoid attachments as you run the risk of landing in spam folders. Another reason is that users generally don’t like to download files due to fear of viruses.
  20. Sex, porn, casino, super special offer: Avoid typical spam words! You shouldn’t type several exclamation marks, dollar signs, or other currency signs either.
  21. Ask your subscribers to recommend your newsletter!
  22. Ask the recipient of your newsletter to add your sender address into his/her address book or to be incorporated into a "white list". In this way you reduce the risk that your newsletter ends up in the spam folder.
  23. Check all links included in your newsletter before sending out.
  24. Do not use background pictures as they are for instance not displayed in newer versions of Outlook.
  25. An imprint is a must!
  26. An unsubscribe link is required!
  27. If you use a two-column layout, please make clear with the column width which one represents the main text. Actually, your layout should by no means have more than two columns.
  28. Integrate customer testimonials and positive reviews in your newsletter.
  29. Reward your customers. Work with coupons and rebates.
  30. Ramp up the suspense. Write about what interesting offers/news awaits the reader in the next editions of your newsletter.
  31. Valuable "giveaways" (such as PDF downloads) are also a good tool for customer retention. Include a link in your newsletter instead of attaching a file.
  32. Use a consistent framework layout, as it eases the readers’ orientation.
  33. Consider trigger-mails - newsletters sent out on certain occasions, such as a birthday or a trade show – as they are popular with customers.