By Michele Linn published December 17, 2010

A Checklist: 7 Keys to eNewsletter Success

Over the past several months, we’ve followed the journey of Graham Kilshaw at Interference Technology as he worked to improve his eNewsletter, EMC Business Bulletin with the help of the CMI community (thanks, everyone!)

Based on his experiences, Graham developed this checklist for his eNewsletter that he offered to share with our readers.  (As a note, 61% of B2B marketers use eNewsletters, but only 55% of users think they are effective. If you are one of the 45% who is looking to improve your efforts, definitely check out this list.)


Who is your audience and what is the goal of your content? This may seem like an obvious question, but your answer will certainly impact your content and how you measure your success.

In the case of Graham and his team, they determined the goal of the EMC Business Bulletin is simply to engage their audience of prospective advertisers for Interference Technology magazine so that they view them positively. For them, this is first and foremost a branding exercise. They may develop leads from it, but that is not their primary purpose. To measure this, they use open rates and click rates.

Subject line

Tease them, ask a question, but don’t give away the answer. Use 50 characters max.


Don’t overlook the importance of layout. When we first asked the CMI community for advice, many of the suggestions were around how to make small changes to the design to improve the experience for the user.

In addition to the design elements, decide how much content you want to have in the eNewsletter. Graham suggests saving the good stuff for the website to ensure people click through from the email.


The devil is in the detail! Make sure you develop a checklist like this and have everyone in the team follow it every time. In Graham’s case, his checklist is used by his writer, editor, production team, and management.


You guessed it . . . content is king!. People simply read stuff that is interesting, and in Graham’s case, readers prefer practical instead of theoretical.

Regardless of your subject matter, try to be conversational. In Graham’s case, he found that blog-style content worked better than traditional newsletter content to draw people in.

Call to action

Make your call to action very clear (such as “Click to read more”). In addition to simply driving traffic, also invite feedback.

Sales message

It’s OK to have a sales message, but make it relevant to but separate from the post. Graham plans to place short text messages in italics at the end of each post.

Anything else you would add to this checklist?

Are your email marketing efforts feeling a bit sluggish? Let our 7-Minute Email Marketing Workout show you how to get your subscribers’ hearts pumping again.

Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Vice President of Content at the Content Marketing Institute. She is one of those people who truly loves what she does and who she works with. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

Other posts by Michele Linn

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