What is an email newsletter?

A newsletter is an email that offers readers and fans who subscribe a list of your most interesting content, announcements and promotions. It can be helpful for keeping audiences in the know and in gaining traffic.

Why use email newsletters?

  • Connect and interact with audience
  • Call to action – fill in a survey, donate money
  • Increase traffic to website / social media
  • Promote services / campaigns
  • Get immediate results e.g. analytics
  • Partnership building – share content with other organisations
  • Improve visibility
  • Save time
  • People often read emails!

293.6 billion emails were sent per day in 2019!

What makes a good newsletter?

  • Relevant to audience
  • Encourages audience to engage
  • Content that is educational (e.g. 80%) not just promotional (e.g. 20%)
  • Mixture of content – photos/videos/text
  • Simple design
  • Small number of articles – don’t overload!
  • Minimal copy – break up text with short sentences – e.g. no longer than 3 line paragraphs

Useful things to think about


  • What is the goal of your organisation?
  • What problem does my organisation solve? Does anyone care?
  • What personality will my brand have?
  • What feelings do people have thinking about our organisation?
  • Who are your competitors and how are you different?
  • What are the colours of your organisation?
  • What fonts do you use?


  • Who are they?
  • What do they do?
  • What are their interests?
  • How do they consume information?

Tone of Voice

  • Use Active Language – ‘Tom kicked the ball’ Not ‘the ball was kicked by Tom’
  • Be as clear as possible – No Jargon! No long words! Use language people understand
  • Be specific – don’t be vague and talk around the call to action, be direct
  • Be personable – ‘We and Us’ rather than the organisation name

Content Tips

  • The six W’s
  • Six Questions – Who, Where, Why, When, What, How?
  • Rule of 3 – three consecutive things can be easily remembered

Audience Engagement

  • What is the main thing you would like subscribers to do?
  • Pick 1 primary call to action – and put it first!
  • Make it simple to do
  • Other calls to actions should be ‘if you have time’ options

Catchy Subject Headers

  • 47% open emails based on subject line
  • 69% report email as spam based on subject line
  • Keep it short – 8/10 words max
  • Don’t make false promises
  • Do tell them what’s inside
  • Make it personal
  • Create a sense of importance
  • Topical


  • Create a template
  • Ensure design is simple, doesn’t distract and matches your branding
  • Use photos (make sure they have ‘alt text’ as some emails don’t automatically download the pictures)
  • Different background colours can work well
  • Themed designs e.g. at Christmas / New Year
  • Designing for different devices – e.g. check it looks good on mobile and desktop


  • Tue-Thurs 8am-10am some of the best times to send
  • Weekends – less interest but more engagement!
  • Different for each organisation
  • When is your audience online?
  • What is your capacity?
  • Limit the number of times you send emails – don’t spam!
  • Does sending monthly/quarterly create too much content?
  • Try to keep to a schedule

Useful Tools

MailChimp – free tool to create content, manage email lists and send emails

  • Saves on costs – free up to 2,000 subscribers
  • Grow your mailing list
  • Divide your mailing list for different audiences
  • Track email results – very good analytics built in!
  • Save time

Canva – free tool to make easy and attractive posters, logos etc

Fiverr – connects you with freelancers who can design/make things

Test Test Test!

  • Every audience is different
  • What works for you?
  • Trial and error
  • Try different styles and subject lines?
  • Try different styles
  • Change the way you encourage people to engage – surveys, drop-ins, videos, events
  • Feedback
  • Tip: Always check every link in a newsletter

See the slides from the session

We would like to say a big THANK YOU to Matthew from Healthwatch Lewisham who designed and delivered this session for free for local charities.


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