Lists, headlines & blurbs, single stories most valuable
The most valued email newsletters in the Nielsen Norman Group’s latest round of usability studies used these formats:
1. Headlines with short blurbs. This was, by far, the most favored format.
If you have more than 5 topics or articles, consider:
- A concise headline
- Blurbs ranging from 1 line to 2-4 sentences to even a few brief paragraphs
- Link to the full story for more information
If your email newsletter also covers more than 2 printed pages, add a table of contents.
2. Bulleted lists of information such as upcoming events, discounts and specials.
3. Single-story newsletters, such as daily meditations, articles, recipes, promotions, promotion, recipes or events. Include the full story if you use this approach.
Make them short and focused.
Note that all of these formats are short and focused. Subscribers considered newsletters with too much information or diverse content overwhelming and cluttered.
Note: Include no more than two full-length stories in your email newsletter. Keep them tight.
Whatever format you choose, be consistent. Subscribers learn your format and use it to find what they’re looking for.
Subscribers also valued in email newsletters:
- Relevant, interesting information
- Clean, easy-to-use design, little clutter
- High-quality graphics and images
- Few ads
Subscribers did not value in email newsletters:
- E-commerce or sales newsletters
- Irrelevant, impersonal information
- Frilly design
- Unsolicited newsletters
What format do you use for your email newsletter? What format makes the most sense?
Source: Kim Flaherty, Amy Schade, and Jakob Nielsen; Marketing Email and Newsletter Design to Increase Conversion and Loyalty, 6th Edition; Nielsen Norman Group, 2017