Humans ’see’ before they start reading anything and that forms the first impression.
So your newsletter layout is important for user experience and conversions. It should be responsive, designed for skimmers and easy to use for you to implement.
You can work smartly by “borrowing” from the best and latest layouts used by some of the successful newsletters. These are layouts that are unique, easy to navigate, and focused on providing memorable user experience.
Without overwhelming you with the mammoth that is ‘newsletter layout’, we have broken down the layout into 4 main blocks. These can be designed individually but eventually have to look cohesive. These are:
- Main body
- PS section
The golden rule is, don’t overwhelm the reader by cluttering it.
Secondly, the reader should instantly get connected to your brand and shouldn’t take two seconds to recognize who sent it.
Thirdly, it should work with all kinds of emails that you plan to send.
Basically the lesson is, your header should be simple, brand-oriented and versatile.
You can cut some fat from your email and just go with the logo of your brand or name of your newsletter. Check this example from 'the nutgraf':
If you are super confident and want to take up a challenge, go without the header.
You can keep it recognisable by keeping a consistent style- a similar style of illustrations or the same genre of photography. See how Harry’s does it:
If you know how to do it well without cluttering, you can put more than just a logo. See how Moo’s email puts pretty important links just below the logo:
Driven by better load time and to make emails mobile-friendly, a minimalistic newsletter is not just a fad. It’s now embraced for its ease of implementation for writer and smooth navigation for the reader.
See this 'Brain Food' from Farnam Street Blog
Create well-defined sections with alternating colors or the use of different graphics so that even a long email is consumable.
Check out this HelpScout newsletter for clearly separated sections.
Whether you’re using one CTA or multiple, make sure it’s always clearly defined and visible with a different color or clearly visible button.
Sticky Notes does this very cleverly with CTAs that look harmless & are prominently visible
Emojis & Icons
Emojis & Icons are a great way to add expressiveness without burdening your email with heavy images or illustrations. For Velocity’s newsletter, emojis also do the job of bullets:
Make liberal use of blank spaces between blocks of text, images, and other elements. Links and buttons should be padded with extra space to give those fingers room to click.
Choose a color scheme according to your brand or choose something that can apply to all kinds of emails. It doesn’t have to be super vibrant or even colorful.
Check this monochromatic look by Sticky Notes:
Or this one with pastel colors by Hers
But there are times when you can experiment. You can have a solid color background & make give your emails a unique personality that compliments your brand personality too.
Bold colors and large fonts are good for grabbing attention on key information pieces.
PS - It’s a tease you give as you walk away.
PS is the section after your sign-off and before the footer. It is (officially) the most non-used section of any email. Out of 23 newsletters, I have subscribed to, only 13% seem to be using it well.
When I filtered my mailbox with emails from Ramit Sethi, having the section ‘PS’ in them, I found 78 such emails! And I have no doubt it’s working for him… the guy is the author of ‘I will teach you to be rich’. I think that closes the case for the PS section but let me give you some tips on how to use PS section and not suck at it:
- Don’t just use PS to summarise email for lazy scanners use it to pack something interesting in two lines.
- It’s a great place to keep an open loop for your next email. Show them what’s coming up next.
- If it’s a promotional email, use it to answer an objection or re-iterate the most important point you made in your mail copy
- If you have something unrelated but you can’t really send a separate email for that, put it in PS section
What about PPS? Well, I don’t want to write a thesis on PS & I think only legends can do that well.
A thoughtful footer is like ending with an impact.
It’s a place where people can go to if they got your newsletter in a forward email from a friend. This is where you can pitch to download your app or donate to your Patreon Account.
Contact Info: Make it easy for people to visit your website or contact you by providing these links in your footer.
Email Preferences: It is always good to have a subscriber change from daily to weekly subscription, or even unsubscribing rather than putting your email in spam.
Download links: If you have an app or valuable guides that people can download, you can put those links in the footer. Don’t have to pitch ‘why to download’, just the links would suffice.
Background: Use a background that doesn’t take the attention away from your main copy but still separates it. Usually, pastel colors or grey tones are a good choice.
Copy: Most footers have ‘vanilla’ language. You don’t have to really jazz it up but you can write as if you are speaking to a human. Also, keep only the necessary information here.
Chronology: Arrange the links in a chronological fashion from most important to the least important info.
What’s the best way to start?
Newsletter design is not something I do professionally but the above-mentioned points are something I learned in my journey as a professional marketer. You don't have to be a marketer or learn all of this.
So what’s the best way to start?
No, you don’t even have to code anything from scratch or pay a subscription to a template platform.
You can look at the SendX template library and build something with customizable content blocks and all design elements provided. You can sign up for a free 14-day trial and get access to ALL of it. No credit cards required.
Many are based on human psychology, so you can trust them to work in your favor. Check out the library and let us know in the comments section about which template do you like the most.
Frequently asked questions
1) What should be the layout of an email newsletter?
The email newsletter layout can be broken down into 3 main blocks. They are the Header, Main Body, and Footer.
2) What should be the characteristics of the Header in an email newsletter?
Your Header should be simple, brand-oriented and versatile. The following 3 characteristics would define an effective Header for an email newsletter:
- It should not be cluttered.
- It should instantly connect the reader to your brand.
- It should work with all kinds of emails that you plan to send.
3) What are the characteristics of the Main Body of an email newsletter?
The following characteristics will make for an engaging main body of an email newsletter:
- Ease of implementation for writer and smooth navigation for the reader
- Well-defined sections with alternating colors
- The use of different graphics so that even a long email is consumable
- Clearly defined CTA which is visible with a different color
- Emojis & Icons to add expressiveness without burdening your email with heavy images or illustrations
- Liberal use of blank and free spaces to give room for clicking
4) What should go into the Footer of an email newsletter?
5) What is the best way to start with email newsletter designing for someone who is not a marketing or designing expert?
You can look at the SendX template library and build something with customizable content blocks and all design elements provided. You can sign up for a free 14-day trial and get access to ALL of it. No credit card required.