Anatomy of an Email Newsletter

Email Newsletter Elements

We previously posted an email design checklist, which covered overall design & style tips, including how to handle formatting, fonts and images.  Great design is important, but you need to make sure that your email newsletter has all of the necessary elements. Compare each of your designs against this checklist before approval and coding.

Preheader Text
1. Inform recipients of the primary message content and call out top offers.
2. Include links to “View with Images” and, if relevant to your audience, “View Mobile Version.”
3. Consider including “add to address book” instructions (though this may not be important enough to take up preheader space in every newsletter).
4. Consider popping your “Unsubscribe” link up here if you have any spam complaint issues (also make sure it’s present in the footer).

Header & Navigation
1. Include consistent branding elements, such as your logo.
2. If your publication has a name (or even if you just call it “Newsletter”), include your label in a distinctive, readable font.
3. Include the newsletter’s date or issue number whether you send it daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.
4. Consider adding navigation elements to important pages on your website, both for branding consistency and to boost your clickthrough rate.
5. Try including forward-to-a-friend (FTAF) functionality and/or social media site links.

Table of Contents
1. Consider including a table of contents above the fold, particularly if your newsletter is very long or complex.
2. Use anchor tags to link directly to content sections further down within the newsletter.

1. Include a primary message area above the fold.
2. Include content such as news, upcoming events and special offers.
3. Include multimedia and interactive content such as links to videos, interactive tools or other exciting site features.
4. Be sure to use calls-to-action (both text links and buttons) to draw readers back to your site.
5. Decide whether it’s brand-appropriate to include bylines with stories. This can help establish credibility and build a reader following for certain writers.
6. Optimize opportunities for dynamic content, such as account information or segmenting by location for upcoming events.

1. Include legal text and CAN-SPAM requirements, such as your physical address and unsubscribe link.
2. Consider including editor information, key contact phone numbers and email addresses.
3. Include preference center links if applicable.
4. Offer additional opportunities for interaction, such as customer service links.
5. Consider adding social media links in a social media bar.

Here’s an example of the elements in action:


View this checklist and more annotated examples in this interactive PDF, created with OpenMoves’ OpenPages technology. Now that you’ve reviewed the checklist, do you find your newsletter is falling short? Let us review your newsletter and help you create a layout that gets results. Contact us to get started.

Thanks to the DMA/eec’s Email Design Roundtable for this checklist; check out their website for more email resources.

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