Marking a company name could backfire

Newsletter optimization: This is how you get (even) more out of one of the best marketing channels

But there is a long way to go to click-through. Here are a few tips that will help you optimize your newsletter.

How do I get more sign ups?

The best newsletter is useless if the recipient group is (too) small. So a permanent goal should be to add more people to the newsletter distribution list. With a few simple adjustments, you can ensure that your newsletter is noticeably more frequently subscribed to:

Avoid the word "newsletter"

I know - that's a weird first tip in an article about newsletter optimization. The word "newsletter" has a negative connotation for many people and is often associated with spam.

Instead, communicate a more descriptive title. For example, some time ago I sent out a monthly "conversion newsletter". Since it was not particularly well received, I decided on the title "Regular conversion tips by e-mail" - the entry rate was then in the double-digit range - significantly higher than before.

Give the user a reason - or several

(Almost) nobody subscribes to your newsletter just for the sake of the newsletter. Make it clear why you should subscribe to your newsletter. What does the user get out of it? What is the content? How does it help you?

As part of this article, I got the chance to do a little A / B test on for this really simple adjustment:

Illustration 1: The newsletter registrations could be increased by 12.9% through simple communication of advantages.

In the right place at the right time

A current trend is to get users to consume the content with a huge, all-covering call to action to sign up for the newsletter. These code snippets, known colloquially as "Exit Intent Popups" or - more technically correct - as "(Exit Intent) Modal Windows" appear before leaving the page or after a certain time or scrolling height (or simply by mistake) and must be treated with extreme caution enjoy.

They may have a positive effect on registration rates, but often cause annoyed users and jumps and thus reduce the conversion rates of other goals such as B. Sales. After having tested this type of technology several times, I do not recommend its use.

Figure 2: Exit intent popups may help collect email addresses, but often have a negative impact on overarching goals.

Many website operators place the newsletter sign up field in the footer. Unfortunately, it is of little use there, as many users simply overlook it or consider it to be unimportant due to its positioning.

The best time to offer the user your own newsletter is when they have a positive experience with the website. This can be, for example, after or during reading an article or while looking at a product in detail. In my tests, it turned out to be strong in conversions and not at all annoying:

Fade in an opening box for the newsletter sign-up at the bottom of the screen of your valuable content pages after at least 20 seconds of stay and more than 30% scroll height, so that the content is not or only minimally covered.

Make sure the box can be easily closed and then won't open again for at least 24 hours. Otherwise the user is quickly annoyed. (But it is also sensitive ...)

For large websites: Offer customized newsletter content for different recipients (groups)

If you are responsible for the email marketing of a larger portal, it is advisable not to offer the same content to all users. A finance portal, for example, could offer dedicated newsletter mailing lists for the subjects of "investments", "shares" and "insurance" and thus increase the entry rate and relevance. The more you know about your user, the more personalized - and better - your content can be.

Think for yourself what a suitable "Content Recommendation Engine" could look like for your needs group.

How do I get users through the double opt-in?

145 words of boring theory

In certain countries - including Germany - commercial or promotional emails are only permitted with the recipient's prior consent. This consent is called "opt-in". Since the once declared (presumed) consent of the recipient could come from a third party (for example by entering an e-mail address in a form), "(...) the person actually advertised is not bound by the opt-in. That even the advertiser was deceived in the process does not matter, because his fault does not matter.

In order to avoid this problem, the double opt-in is therefore often chosen: Here the advertiser can be sure that the consent to the sending of e-mails actually comes from the account to which the advertising e-mails will later be delivered. The request necessary for the double opt-in was recently often viewed by the courts as not anti-competitive. "(Source) The double opt-in happens here by confirming the consent by clicking on a link in a request or confirmation E-mail.

Yawn Done.

TL; DR: Recipients have to confirm their email. This is called a double opt-in.

The double opt-in. Your enemy.

Users often think that registration for the newsletter is complete after registration (single opt-in). They do not know that the confirmation of their own e-mail address is still pending and so it is not uncommon that you are never allowed to write to someone who is actually interested. Annoying.

What requirements does my single opt-in page have to meet?

In order to prevent users from thinking that the registration process is complete, the most obvious of all means helps: a large, eye-catching, unmistakable heading that tells the user that he is not finished yet.

You should not place any distracting content next to this information on the single opt-in page (the page that the user arrives at after entering his or her email address). It is imperative that everyone User understands that one more step is needed.

With my "Smartimize" tool, I solved the whole thing as follows, which resulted in just 21 non-completed double opt-ins with more than 2,500 entries (this corresponds to around 0.8%).

Figure 3: The single opt-in page must immediately make it clear that one more step is necessary for inclusion in the newsletter distribution list.

Of course, a good single opt-in page is only half the battle. The other half is covered by the double opt-in email itself:

What is important for my double opt-in mail?

Many users have had the same email address for many years. The flood of daily e-mails is preprogrammed and so it quickly happens that you overlook individual e-mails or consider them unimportant and not open them.

So that your double opt-in email is seen and the link clicked in it, follow these simple tips:


Even the subject line must make it clear that 1 more step is necessary. Words like "Welcome to our newsletter" or similar. are quickly dismissed as unimportant information emails and not opened.

Figure 4: The subject of the double opt-in email should make it clear that action is required here.


Your double opt-in email should (and for legal reasons) contain no advertising content. Advertising at this point would only distract or deter and ensure that users do not complete the registration process.

Just repeat the main reason for users to verify their email address. For example: "Confirm your email address now and receive regular tips by email."

Click request

The click request is the most important part of the email. This type of confirmation email is usually not read word for word, but is simply scanned in search of a clickable element. In my experience, a clearly visible button with appropriate labeling works best here.

Figure 5: The content and click request in the double opt-in e-mail should be limited to the essentials and be easy to understand for everyone.

How do I increase my newsletter open rate?

Don't be spam

In order for an e-mail to be opened at all, it must first reach the recipient's inbox. It is therefore essential not to be classified as spam. Because: Nobody looks in the spam folder and if you are unlucky, your emails will be completely blocked by the email provider of your recipient.

5 tips to avoid being classified as spam:

1. In the double opt-in email, ask your recipients to add you to their address book. Send a corresponding vCard (.vcf) with. You can find vCard generators on your trusted search engine. As soon as you are in the address book, the probability of being classified as spam is very low.

2. Do not formulate your newsletter and especially the subject line in a too promotional way. Words and text phrases such as "free of charge", "success", "money back", "guarantee", "100% satisfied" and the like. set the alarm bells ringing for every spam filter.

3. Offer a simple opt-out option that is clearly visible at the end of every email. This reduces the number of complaints ("mark as spam") submitted by users to their email providers.

4. Carry out a spam check before sending your newsletter. Good newsletter tools offer a corresponding functionality.

5. Maintain your recipient list. Delete recipients for whom you have been rejected by the server ("bounce").

The first impression counts - with every email

The small preview in the email client or browser of your recipient is the only chance for your newsletter to be read. Specifically, the preview consists of the following modules that are relevant for you:

Sender name

While most senders (rightly) use their company name as their name, it can make perfect sense to use the overarching topic of your newsletter (e.g. "Marketing Hacks"). The mostly prominent display of the sender's name means that it receives a lot of attention. If your newsletter is worded very "personally", the name of the author can also work instead of the company name or topic.

Subject line

The subject line of course varies with each newsletter, which is why I can only give very general tips here. The boys (and girls) from konversionsKRAFT, for example, have been working with icons a lot lately, which means they get more attention than other emails in the inbox.

Figure 6: konversionsKRAFT attracts attention in the inbox through the use of icons.

Many people also react particularly attentively and positively to their own name. Starting the subject with the recipient's first name can improve the open rate.


A component that is far too often neglected is the text excerpt from the email. As with the META description of a website, there is valuable space here for further information. The first paragraph or sentence of the email is used as a text excerpt. Most newsletters give away space for only partially motivating calls to action such as "If the newsletter is not displayed correctly, click here".

Figure 7: Internet World shows how not to do it. The text excerpt from the e-mail makes you want less.

Pro tip: Place an invisible 1x1 pixel image at the very beginning of your newsletter. The ALT text. whichever you give this picture is used as a text excerpt in most e-mail programs.


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How do I increase click through rates?

Your newsletter can be your best traffic provider. Users who reach your website via a newsletter have already cleared two major hurdles: opening your email and clicking on the call to action in the same. They are highly qualified and, in my opinion, the most valuable traffic you can get.

In the past I have seen or accompanied a number of email marketing campaigns whose conversion rates from click in the email to lead or purchase are beyond the 50% mark (not to mention repeat purchases). As soon as this "click through" has happened, it is only up to the landing page to convert the traffic properly (here are a few tips). But how do I get the user to click in my newsletter?

Your newsletter shouldn't look like an advertisement

"Advertising is unsympathetic. I'll wear it out again."

This or something like that is what most people think of email advertising. Advertising messages or calls for action should therefore only be used very sporadically.

Do you want to use your newsletter to promote the sale of a product? Then don't even think about initiating any sales pitch in the first two emails. Position yourself as an authority. As an expert. After a few emails, you can then point out your product in a friendly way.

You should also be careful when designing your newsletter. The more designed it looks, the more likely it is to be perceived as advertising. My idea for an A / B test: Test your "branded" newsletter against a simple text email without (a lot) graphic design.

Your newsletter should link to exactly one target page

With newsletters it is like with marketing landing pages: the more decisions the user has to make, the less he converts. (See also: The Paradox of Choice)

Don't show the user your whole "vendor's tray" in a single email. If you do everything right (see next section), you will have plenty of time to gradually advertise the various landing pages as "bite-sized".

If you only link one landing page, got to Your newsletter revolves around just one topic. This is good for the reader in the end, for you too.

How do I ensure that my recipients do not unsubscribe?

Really. Goods. Content.

Provide people with valuable information. Make sure that the content gets them further and that they can use the knowledge or information they have gained in some way for themselves.

As an example, take my articles here at or my lectures, if you've seen one before: I would never publish or present anything that doesn't contain tips that can (if possible) be implemented by everyone. Otherwise I would lose readers or audience - and my reputation - directly. It's no different with newsletters.

Make you want more

The film industry is leading the way. Good series end with a cliffhanger - a scene or plot that leaves room for the next episode. Use this principle for your newsletter. Get as specific as possible without giving too much away.

Figure 8: In my (former) Conversion Tip newsletter, I keep users interested by using a cliff hanger and thus lower the opt-out rate.

Don't annoy your user.

I can understand if you are so convinced of your offer that you would like to send a newsletter every day. Unfortunately, the shot will usually backfire.

Therefore, only send newsletters at regular intervals - e.g. weekly or monthly. It is best to let the receiver choose the frequency itself and adjust it if necessary.

Conclusion & bonus tip

Building large newsletter distribution lists is not rocket science. By following the tips above, you will be able to quickly achieve visible results - especially if you are new to email marketing. Try it out, it's worth it :-)

Do you have any further tips for newsletter optimization? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you for reading