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The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

Master Your Email Creation Strategy With Engaging Elements

Like most people — I receive roughly 100 emails a day from various senders. 

I would be lying if I said I open and read every email (in fact, for complete transparency, my unopened email box is currently sitting pretty at 21,000 emails). 

But the emails I DO open have one thing in common: they use email elements that capture my attention and keep me interested enough to not only keep reading but actually engage. 

Think of your emails as an opportunity to build a relationship with your audience and craft your entire strategy around that thought. 

You want your audience to trust you, and the best way to achieve that is by being consistent in creating excellent content and including elements that amaze your audience. 

Today, let’s dive into the elements that keep your email content fresh & compelling - and leave your audience wanting more. 

Table of Contents

TL;DR: Key Takeaways

Compelling subject lines are crucial for open rates: According to research, they’re the sole reason 64% of people open an email.

Engaging copy keeps readers interested: Your audience will judge your emails quickly. 69% decide to send an email to spam after only the first few sentences.

Visuals enhance the reader’s experience: Graphics help keep your audience engaged and help your brand live rent-free in their mind.

Effective ctas drive action: Keep your CTAs simple, yet effective to maximize the opportunity for your audience to follow them.

Design and layout matter immensely: Optimize for mobile, most of your audience is likely reading on a mobile device.

Personalization increases engagement: Segment your audience to provide a bespoke newsletter experience

Analytics guide strategy refinement: Analytics give solid data on what you are doing right, and what you can improve.

Legal compliance is non-negotiable: Following the law keeps you out of legal trouble and avoiding hefty fines.

Automation streamlines processes: Simplify your life by automating emails to go to the right subscribers, at the right time.

The Importance of Compelling Subject Lines

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

Subject lines are your first impression, and the copy you choose can make or break your email campaign. Write compelling subject lines that interest your subscribers and pique their curiosity so they click and read the entire email.

According to research, 64% of people open emails based solely on the subject line, highlighting the importance of clear, compelling, and attention-grabbing subject lines for your email campaigns. 

Why Listen To Me: I live for the thrill of knowing my emails are being opened, read, and appreciated. While working as a Business Development Representative for a media agency, I maintained a 35% Response Rate approaching creators for sponsorship by using personalized, genuine copy. 

Crafting Engaging Copy That Resonates

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

When was the last time you opened an email sent by a business? 

For me, it was today, and it was because I was curious. The email was from a business that I had subscribed to, and it said, “Hi there, congrats - you’ve been selected!” 

I didn’t know what I had been selected for, but I wanted to find out. Turns out it was a marketing email offering me a specific discount in exchange for sharing feedback about a product. I reacted exactly how the person who wrote the copy intended: I was curious, interested, and fully prepared to engage with the email. 

The subject line was short, sweet, and to the point. It used a little bit of mystery to entice me while still staying true to its brand. And because it used the word “selected,” it made the email sound more like something exclusive that only people who are “invited” have access to. 

You can create the same feeling of exclusivity with your audience by using similar language in your email marketing efforts. But what is most important is defining what your audience is looking for and what they will respond to. 

Use your knowledge and marketing research on your target audience to hone in on the best copy to engage your subscribers. And if you’re not sure, use A/B testing to see what subject line resonates with your audience best. 

Attention-Grabbing Headlines

When you only have a few words to deliver a message, every character counts. You want to drive engagement to open the email and find out more by grabbing their attention, often in a crowded inbox.

One way to keep a reader’s interest is to make your subject lines time-bound and create a sense of urgency. 

For example, offer your audience a discount, but it only lasts for 2 days. This encourages the reader to act immediately and open the email for more details. 

Show your audience the upfront value of the email — and it’s important to do so immediately. 

Research shows that 69% of email recipients report emails as spam after reading only the subject line, meaning that those few words make a huge impact in a very short window of time. 

It also means that your audience isn’t going to fall for clickbait techniques, so it’s not even worth it to try them. Instead, use value-driven and authentic headlines to their attention right away. 

Check out this email I got today from Buffalo Wild Wings:

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

Instead of advertising the coupon itself, the subject line created a feeling of exclusivity by saying a new offer is available in my account. It also creates a little mystery about the offer—while being authentic.  

This email from Etsy reminds me of the upcoming holiday:

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

The subject line is simple but a great reminder about Mother’s Day coming up (and planting the seed for future emails about Mother’s Day gift ideas). You can also use subject lines that invoke emotional feelings in your audience, such as familiarity or nostalgia.

Personalization and Relevance

Ensure that your subject line is relevant to what’s in your email. Your audience won’t be as likely to engage if they open your email only to see that the email isn’t aligning with the subject line. No one likes clickbait or being “tricked” into reading something they did not expect to read. 

While this is absolutely a best practice, relevant subject lines are also the law. The CAN-SPAM act requires that your email subject lines are relevant to your email’s content. Not doing so can lead to hefty penalties: up to $51,744. More on this later. 

Personalization is an email element that is not only legal but also gives your email the extra “oomph.” Using your subscriber’s name in your subject line as part of a dynamic email content strategy can take your emails to the next level. 

Names aren’t the only personalization element you can wield. Personalize your emails even further by using other information you may have collected about your subscribers. For example, you can use beehiiv’s advanced segmentation to see where your subscribers are coming from and create custom content based on how they found your newsletter. 

Even better—incorporate custom welcome emails for your new subscribers. In newsletters on beehiiv in 2023, welcome emails had an open rate of 47.05% across the platform. That means that welcome emails are an amazing opportunity to wow your audience with personalized, custom subject lines and keep them hooked with engaging copy.  

Incorporating Visuals and Multimedia for Impact

Include visual and multimedia elements to break up your email text and make your content more interesting. By adding content that adds visual interest, you can really pack a big punch, keeping your audience captivated and engaged. 

Eye-Catching Imagery 

Make your emails eye-catching with imagery that pops out of the screen. Choose imagery that is eye-catching, like this email from the New York Times:

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

That picture is compelling and engaging—it really pops out of the screen—and also sets up the introduction below. 

You can channel the same energy in your emails as well. Use relevant, eye-catching images that add value for your audience. Choose images that make your audience stop and look for a moment. The NYT photo does precisely that — you naturally want to spend more time looking at it, and the perspective feels like you were there. 

You can also consider using GIFs to promote visual interest with moving, dynamic images. GIFs can instantly capture your audience’s attention in a way that static images can’t.

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

Emails with images give a huge boost—according to research, nearly 10% of respondents saw an increase in open rates when including images in their copy. 

Videos and Animations  

Add videos and animations to your email to go beyond the short GIF. Ensure they are relevant to your topic and provide value for your audience. 

Adding a video to your newsletter is a great way to expand upon an idea in video form, and cater to different preferences or learning types. For instance, if you write a “How-To” in your email, you can include a video that further breaks down the steps and helps visual learners understand the process better. 

You can also use video to introduce yourself to your audience. People often want to put a face and name to the writer they’ve been following. When you introduce yourself, you expand the relationship with your audience, making your interactions more genuine and increasing engagement. 

Ensure you include your video as a linked image, not an embed. For starters, the email provider you’re messaging may not support an embedded video. And an embedded video may be too big of a file, creating loading or deliverability issues. Take the much easier route and include your email as a link. 

Optimizing Calls-to-Action for Conversion

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

Without a strong and compelling Call to Action (CTA), no email is complete. What is the next step that you want your readers to take? A strong CTA guides your audience to their next logical step and encourages them to take action beyond simply reading your email. 

Clear and Compelling CTAs 

Your CTA should be clear, compelling, and easy to digest. Don’t overcomplicate the steps that you want your audience to take—that just increases the likelihood that they will not take them. 

Crafting CTAs that aren’t confusing or misleading is just as important. Make sure that your CTA is understandable, regardless of someone’s background. The actions that you ask them to take (such as liking your page or subscribing) should be simple and easy to follow. 

Strategic CTA Placement

Strategically place your CTA, so your audience takes the next step more often. You should put your CTAs in two spots, above and below the fold.  

The “fold” is referring to the line that you must scroll beneath to get to the rest of the email. While you will most often hear that your CTA should be above the fold, both have their advantages. Here’s how: 

1. At the top of your email (“above the fold”): this gets the CTA in front of people without them having to scroll.

BabyCenter keeps it real simple with their parenting newsletter:

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

The CTA is in their branded buttons, perfectly matching their brand colors and communicating their next steps with ease. 

ExtraLife, a fundraising group for Children’s Miracle Network, also uses above-the-fold CTAs:

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

In this case, even the subject line is a CTA–and you know what to expect: details on the next fundraising event. 

2. At the end of your email (“below the fold”): this gets the CTA in front of people who read the entire email and are ready to take the next steps. 

Mixtiles does below-the-fold CTA placement in a way that encourages you to scroll to find the discount, while using great background images to inspire you to want to buy their product.

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

The design of the graphics is top notch because the line formed by the bottom of the wall gallery is perfectly along the fold, drawing the eye to the fold (and encouraging you to scroll down).

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

Scrolling down leads to an immediate payoff with a nice discount to encourage you to take the next steps, making this email a brilliant and effective use of below the fold CTAs. 

Designing for Readability and Engagement

You want your readers to have the best possible user experience. Designing your emails around their experience increases their willingness to read the whole thing and increases your engagement. 

Responsive and Mobile-Friendly

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

The vast majority of people who read your emails will be on mobile devices. When designing your email, consider the experience of a mobile user. 

Make sure that paragraphs are short, and go to a new line when your paragraph gets too long. This makes it easier for someone on a smaller screen to read your emails without getting lost in blocks of text. 

Consistent Branding

Your branding is what will make your audience recognize your emails. Keeping the branding consistent - like branded colors, branded images, etc.- keeps your emails memorable and helps them stand out from the crowd. 

Here is an example of branding by the planner brand, Laurel Denise: 

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

They use branded colors to stay consistent in all their emails and web presence, including a blue background for all of the images they take. The banner at the top with the logo is the same as that on their YouTube channel. Because their branding is consistent everywhere, they have a web presence. 

When you read their emails, you see their branding and know that it is from them (without having to read the sender). Use branding to make your emails stand out - and let your audience know they are from you through visual cues. 

Segmenting Your Audience for Personalization

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

Personalization in your emails can take your email content plan to the next level. Use segmentation tools to break your audience into groups and custom-tailor your content to individual groups for a more customized experience. 

Subscriber Acquisition and Growth

The best way to know how to grow your list? Understand where your subscribers are coming from. 

Segmenting your subscribers allows you to see how they find your content. The groups that have shown the most growth are excellent places to expand your efforts. You can see what’s working and what’s not and adjust your growth strategy accordingly. 

List Segmentation and Targeting

Segmenting your list allows you to offer your audience a bespoke experience. Send specialized content to segments of your list that hone in on data you collect from them. For instance, you can ask your audience how often they want to receive your emails. If they say once a week, segment those people into a group that only receives email blasts once a week. 

This approach gives your audience a customized experience and also hones in on their pain points and needs. beehiiv just launched advanced segmentation tools to elevate this experience. 

Leveraging Analytics for Continuous Improvement

Analytics give you critical insight into what you are doing right and what you can improve. There’s always an opportunity for improvement, and KPIs like Open Rates and Click-Through Rates give you a clear idea of how engaged your audience is. 

Open Rates and Click-Through Rates

The two metrics that measure the engagement of your audience best are Open Rates and Click-Through Rates. 

Notice that I didn’t mention your subscriber count. While that can certainly show growth, it doesn’t mean much if your subscribers aren’t engaging with your content. However, open Rates and Click-Through rates give you a birds-eye view of how much of your audience is engaging so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. 

Here’s a rundown of the two types of rates: 

  • Open-Rates: this percentage tells you how many subscribers opened your email

  • Click-Through Rates: this percentage tells you how many subscribers clicked links you shared in your email

It’s essential to stay aware and legally compliant when you craft your emails. I already mentioned CAN-SPAM above. The other primary law to be mindful of is GDPR. 

CAN-SPAM Act (US) and GDPR

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, known as the CAN-SPAM Act, is the primary regulatory law in the United States for email marketing. 

Here are the rules as outlined: 

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. 

  2. Avoid deceptive subject lines. 

  3. Identify the message as an ad. 

  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. 

  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future marketing emails from you. 

  6. Remember that subscribers and members can opt out of marketing email.

  7. Honor opt-out requests promptly. 

  8. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. 

As I mentioned earlier, non-compliance comes with a hefty price tag. Staying compliant is crucial to your email creation strategy. 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a law established by the EU to protect citizens' data. It is one of the strictest laws in the world and is required by anyone who “processes” data. Any data that can identify a person, like their name and email address, is covered under GDPR regulations. 

Article 6 covers what you are allowed to do with the data you collect from your subscribers: 

The Best Email Element Strategy for Your Newsletter

The first part (“the data subject has given consent…”) is especially important in email marketing. Under the GDPR, sending marketing emails to someone who has not consented to receive them is illegal. 

While it may be tempting to purchase an email list, GDPR does not allow you to do so. Instead, stay on the safe side of the law by growing your email list organically and ensuring everyone has opted in. 

Integrating Automation and Advanced Techniques

Use automation to send triggered emails when your audience takes specific actions. This ensures that the emails get to the right subscriber at the right time without you having to lift a finger. 

Email Marketing Automation

You can set up automations that run behind the scenes and get your emails out to the right subscriber at the right time. If you’re unfamiliar with automation, automation is a multi-step journey that your audience goes on when they take a certain action - like signing up for your newsletter. 

In that example, you could set up an automation to send your new subscribers a series of welcome emails introducing them to you and your content and begin your experience together on the right foot. 

Learnings Recap

  • Compelling subject lines make or break your emails- use A/B testing to hone in on what keeps your audience engaged and craft personalized subject lines for maximum open rates.

  • Keep your audience interested and engaged with compelling copy and eye-catching visuals.

  • Use segmentation to personalize your emails and give your audience a bespoke experience.

  • Make use of data from analytics to strengthen and refine your content strategy.

  • Staying legally compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR helps avoid legal trouble and unnecessary fines.

Final Thoughts

The elements you include in your email can make or break whether your email is read. That’s why you need a platform that gives you all the tools to incorporate these elements effectively. 

beehiiv offers rich design tools, powerful analytics, and robust personalization options - everything you need to craft a world-class email newsletter. 

Take the first step to elevate your content by starting your free trial with beehiiv.

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