Email Newsletter Design to Increase Conversion and Loyalty

5th Edition

Report PDF cover image

Newsletters can create much more of a bond between a user and a company than a website can. However, usability problems have a much stronger impact. This report shows what happened when real people used a broad set of real newsletters. We watched and observed as they tried to get on and off subscription lists, maintain their subscriptions, and receive and review issues in their inboxes.

This 666-page report presents 211 design guidelines based on five rounds of usability research. Discussions and 583 screenshot illustrations supplement our findings.

Topics covered

  • Understand how users manage email and email newsletters on various devices
  • Managing email and email newsletters
  • Reading newsletters on various devices
  • Discovering new newsletters
  • Saving and forwarding newsletters
  • Impact of spam and unsolicited newsletters
  • Personal newsletters (B2C) vs. business-related (B2B) newsletters
  • Subscription process 
  • Link name and placement
  • Newsletter names and descriptions
  • Collecting information from users
  • Confirming subscriptions
  • Encouraging new subscriptions
  • Frequency and delivery
  • Sender information, subject lines, and pre-headers
  • Content
  • Content selection
  • Voice and tone
  • Personalization
  • Keeping content fresh
  • Hyperlinks
  • Images and videos
  • Advertising
  • Layout and visual design
  • Subscription maintenance and unsubscribing 
  • Unsubscribe links
  • Maintenance options
  • Unsubscribe process
  • How to confirm email newsletter cancellation
  • Study methodology details, including test tasks, questionnaires, and other study protocols that have been refined through our five rounds of research

What’s new with the 5th Edition?

The fifth edition contains new guidelines, increasing from 199 to 211. The fifth round of research was focused on the use of newsletters on mobile devices.

Research method

The information in this report is based on five rounds of studies, conducted over 10 years. Usability research methods included:

  • One-on-one usability testing
  • Eyetracking
  • Email and online-based diary studies

Representative users tested the usability of 461 newsletters. The studies took place in the United States, Australia, England, Hong Kong, Japan and Sweden.


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