After understanding the importance of email marketing, you may have already made up your mind to start sending out newsletters. Perhaps you have already identified an email marketing service provider. But now you are faced with the task of creating an email marketing template for your newsletter and you are confused and don’t know where to start.
In this post, I will show you 6 free ways to create beautiful email marketing templates. By the end of this post, you should be able to create a newsletter template, even if you have never created one before.
Essential Elements Your Email Marketing Templates Should Have
When creating your newsletter template, it is important to keep it straight forward and simple. How you brand your newsletter should not distract your readers from your core message.
Here are some of the important elements that you should consider including in your newsletter template.
- Header – This comes at the top of your email. Most people include an image with their logo but you can include whatever else that might be relevant to your organization. You can also include your organization’s tag line here.
- Text – Include editable text regions in the template. These are areas where your text will go.
- Images – Decide where the images in your newsletter will go. You can include one or more images.
Most email clients do not automatically show the images when someone clicks open the newsletter. The email client blocks them unless the reader chooses to view the images. That is why it is important not to send emails with images only, since if all the images are blocked, it will appear as if you sent a blank email.
For this reason, when designing your newsletter, keep in mind that it should still make sense, whether or not the images are seen.
- Call to action – Your newsletter should always have a call to action. This is what you want your reader to do after they have finished reading your newsletter. One of the calls to action you can include is for your readers to click a button or link in the mail that will redirect them to your website, where you want them to perform an action.
Make the call to action quite compelling and explain to the reader how they will benefit from performing the action. Even though ‘Click Here’ is a call to action, it is not a very good one since it is not compelling.
Your call to action should include actionable verbs. An example of an actionable call to action includes
- Read more
- Buy Now
Including a sense of urgency will make people more likely to take the action.
If you include links in your email, make sure that they look like links to increase chances of people clicking on them. Preferably, links should be underlined and in blue.
Also, don’t put a bunch of links together since this will make it hard for someone to click on a particular links, especially if they are on phone.
- Mobile friendly – Whichever design template that you choose, make sure that it is mobile friendly. 55% of people read their emails on their mobile devices. You can also go for responsive email templates.
Mobile friendly templates are not necessarily responsive templates. However, responsive templates are always mobile friendly. Responsive templates respond to fit whatever device the reader is using to access their emails. This can be a desktop computer, mobile phone or tablet.
- Fonts – Decide the type of fonts to use and the size. Typography will determine the readability of the newsletter, so choose font types that appear well on the web across all platforms.
Examples of fonts that appear good on email include
Font types that do not appear good on email are
- Font size is important, especially if you consider that most of your readers will be accessing the newsletter from their phone.
Ideally, it should be possible for the reader to comfortably read the text with one while holding the phone at arm’s length.
According to D Bnonn Tennant, most people can comfortably read font size 16. 1 out of 10 people have some kind of visual impairment, so using font sizes that will cause eye strain is not advisable.
The harder your emails are to read, the higher the chances that people will stop reading them altogether.
- Unsubscribe link – According to CAN-SPAM Act, it should be easy for subscribers to opt out of your mailing list whenever they want to. Violation of this rule can see you face tough legal penalties.
All emails that you send out should have an unsubscribe link. Information on how to opt out of your list should be clearly spelt out and legible.
Also, consider that if you make it difficult for your subscribers to leave your mailing list, most of them will just mark your emails as spam. This will negatively affect your sender reputation in future.
If a lot of people mark your emails as spam, then it will affect your deliverability. This means that most emails that you send will be ending up in the junk folder instead of the inbox.
- Mailing address – According to CAN-SPAM Act, your newsletters should have a valid physical mailing address.
You can opt for a single column or multiple columns. This will mainly be dictated by the amount of information that you want to include in your newsletter.
- Single columns are ideal for short emails that include a single call to action.
- Multiple columns are best for emails which include a variety of content.
Purpose of Your HTML Newsletter
The purpose of your newsletter will also play a key role in determining its design. There are basically 3 types of newsletters.
- Read Me – If you want your subscribers to mainly focus on reading the content of the email, use few images and more text. You also need to have good copywriting skills, so that you can hold the interest of the reader from start to finish.
- Buy Me– If you want your subscribers to buy something from you, include more images that are sharp and have descriptive summaries, in case the images fail to get loaded when the subscriber opens them.
- Join Me– If you want your subscribers to join you in a particular cause, event or to do something, your emails should be short and to the point. They should also have a clear call to action button. Include all the details of the event or cause.
Now that we are clear on which elements your email marketing templates should have. Here are 5 ways how you can go about creating your first template.
1. Use Email Marketing Templates from Email Marketing Software Companies
Premade templates– Most email marketing software companies provide ready-made templates that you can use to design your template.
All you have to do is to look through their template gallery then choose the one that is most appealing to you. You can customize the templates using different colors, image and text that you want.
Drag and drop design – If you do not want the ready-made templates, the other option is to use the drag and drop editor provided to custom make your own template.
You can drag various elements into your newsletter. For instance, you can drag and drop the content block, image block, header, social media buttons and whatever else you want.
2. Download Email Templates Online
Designing your own email marketing templates from scratch can be quite intimidating. If you don’t want to do this or if you do not have the time to do it, you can simply download email templates online and then upload them to the email marketing provider of your choice.
Here are 7 places where you can download newsletter marketing templates for free online.
- Litmus – You need to register an account with them before you can download their templates. However, the templates are free to download once you have registered. They have 5 sleek and modern designs that you can use.
- 99 designs – This is a platform where designers hang out. When they introduced their newsletter section, they held a competition, where designers were asked to come up with the best newsletter templates.
They then chose best templates and uploaded them on their site. This includes 3 templates in 4 different colors. This includes a newsletter template, promotional email and a notification template.
You can download these templates free of charge and use it with the email marketing Software Company that you registered with. Most of these companies provide an easy way to upload the templates.
- Themezy – You can easily download the templates even without registering with an email address on the website. The 16 templates are responsive.
- Zurb – Offers 5 responsive design templates, which you can easily customize.
- Email on Acid– They provide a free template. Their blog post explains how to use the template and customize it.
- Pure 360– Their designs are nice and clean. They are also easy to use and they have a Pinteresting template, where you can pinup images.
- freemailtemplates.com – They have free email templates in different categories. You will be sure to find something that you love. You can download and customize the templates and then upload them to your email service provider account.
3. Design Your Newsletter Templates Using Photoshop
If you are a designer or if you can use Photoshop well, then use it to design your HTML newsletter. This is a great tutorial to use to design your newsletter.
4. Design Your HTML Newsletter in Word
If you are not good in Photoshop, consider using Ms Word to design your newsletter. The major disadvantage of Word is that it will export messy code when you are exporting it to your email marketing service provider.
However, your email service provider should be able to clean up the messy code automatically.
Here is a great tutorial on how you can design a newsletter with Word.
5. Code Your Own Newsletter from Scratch
If you are good in code and you are familiar with HTML and CSS, you can build our own template. This will give you full control over the design and how you choose to brand it.
MailChimp has an Email Template Reference that you can use to get started.
Test Your Email Marketing Templates
Once you have picked and finalized your newsletter design, don’t just type your content into it and send to your subscribers. You first have to test it and ensure that everything is working well.
15 minutes of testing can save you hours or days of crisis management. This is what would happen if you were to send out an email with something wrong in it.
When testing, keep in mind that your design should look good on different email clients. That is, it should look good in Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook etc. Check how the images appear and if the newsletter lands in the inbox or junk folder.
You can also test by using a 3rd party service provider like Litmus.
Moreover, you can test it by sending it to yourself first. Everything in the design should be working well. If there are any problems, make the necessary adjustments before sending it to your entire list.
In summary, here are 5 ways of creating email marketing templates.
- Use resources provided by your email service marketing provider.
- Use the premade template designs that your email service provider has
- Design your own emails using the drag and drop editor that email service providers have
- Download a free template from online from one of the many websites that provide templates. Customize the design then export it to your email service provider.
- Use Photoshop
- Use Ms Word
- Code your own newsletter template
What challenges have you faced when designing your email marketing templates? I would love to hear from you. Let me know in the comment section below!
Are you an NGO or a Non Profit organization? Would you like to get more funding for your projects?
Julie can help you do this by writing better emails/newsletters to send to your donors. Her main aim is to help you attract and retain donors, so that they can give more money towards your organization.
She can also manage your website and get more people to visit it by writing engaging blog posts, white papers, reports, brochures, case studies and whatever else you need. She does all this with the aim of attracting more people to your website, so that they can see and understand what you do and get encouraged to give financial support towards your organization.
If you need someone to write, format or set up your fundraising newsletters or write fundraising copy for you, you can reach Julie at email@example.com.