The 4 Types of Email Newsletters

Email newsletters have made a sly comeback over the last year.

While massively successful newsletters like Morning Brew (1+ million subscribers) and The Skimm (7+ million subscribers) have been hitting “send” for years, the rest of us are just catching on (or dusting off our old, retired newsletters).

In the digital age of ad inundation, everywhere you look, something is being sold to us. 

So marketers are realizing that if we give a lot of “value” without asking for anything in return (except an email address, of course 😉), customers will be more than happy to invite us into their inboxes and read our newsletters while sipping their morning coffee. 

Each of the below 4 types of email newsletters have the same foundation. We’re giving value in return for being allowed to email people.

What is value?

It’s information that your customer finds relevant or useful. 

Depending on how you want to curate that information (and the size of your team), we’re going to show you the core types of newsletters circulating the web right now. Let’s preface—these aren’t the only newsletter templates available, but these will get you started if you’re new to email newsletters.

Ready to hit “send”?

Here are the 4 core types of email newsletters. 

#1: “Letter-from-the-editor” or “Featured Article” Style

This type of newsletter is best suited for: 

  • Brands with something to say and/or points to make
  • Companies wanting to take a stance on something happening in their industry (have an opinion, provide tactical advice, etc.)
  • Businesses willing to dedicate more resources and time to create a valuable newsletter

For this type of newsletter, you’ll either need to be a decent writer or you’ll need to hire one.  While other types of email newsletters don’t require you to be a good writer (as you’ll see below), this one definitely does. 

With that said, just because you can write doesn’t mean you should write forever. This type of email newsletter can be 200–2,000+ words—it just depends on the topic and how dedicated your audience is to reading lengthy content.

Here’s an example of a short letter-from-the-editor style email newsletter: 

This is less than 200 words, yet still as effective as a longer from-the-editor style newsletter. As long as the below bases are covered, your subscribers are going to love reading your newsletter alongside their morning cup of coffee.

  • Why does this matter to my subscribers?
  • Is this valuable to my subscribers?
  • Is this topic relevant to my industry?
  • Is this engaging enough to make my subscribers keep reading?

(NOTE: Need a helping hand with your digital marketing efforts? Or maybe you just want proven, actionable marketing tools, tactics, and templates to implement in your business? Check out the latest deal from DigitalMarketer, and you will be on your way to helping your business grow.)

#2: “Link” or “Curated Content” Style

This type of newsletter is best suited for: 

  • Brands and businesses who want to provide quick value to their customers
  • Companies strapped for time and people power

This newsletter style is for the businesses that either don’t want to, or don’t have the resources, to write letter-from-the-editor style newsletters. Here’s the thing—just because you’re not writing lengthy, storytelling newsletters doesn’t mean that you’re not doing a great job at your newsletter. 

You can still send value to your list through the “link” or “curated content” style newsletter.

There’s just one thing you CANNOT mess up when it comes to this newsletter style. If you choose to go with this style, it is very important that you make sure you are committed to providing context for each link. Just sending links isn’t differentiated enough… you need to be explaining why your subscribers should care about the content you’re linking out to.

These links can be internal links (i.e. your own content) or external links (i.e. other people’s content).

Here’s an example of a “link” or “curated content” style email newsletter:

#3: “Blog” Style

This type of newsletter is best suited for: 

  • Brands with a dedicated blog and/or content repository
  • Companies that want to drive A LOT of traffic to their content

The “blog” style email newsletter has one goal and one goal only. You’re trying to drive traffic to specific websites. This is short, punchy writing that makes people want to follow through on the links you’re providing. 

A quick tip is that you don’t have to necessarily link to a blog, just linking out to wherever you keep content is the goal (ex. YouTube channel, Medium profile, etc.)

You can think of the “blog” style newsletter as a hybrid of the “link” style and “letter-from-the-editor” style. While you’re certainly not writing 2,000 words to explain why people should consume the content linked, you’re still showing the value behind them clicking.

Here’s an example of a “blog” style email newsletter:

#4: “Hustle” Style

This type of newsletter is best suited for: 

  • Brands with a dedicated content team that can really put pen to paper
  • Companies that are big on the affiliate side of marketing
  • Businesses that want to establish themselves as THE AUTHORITY in their industry

The “hustle” style is going to require you to be, or have, a great writer(s) on your team. You’re going to be using your newsletter to link internal and external content; all focused on different topics within your niche. 

This style is heavy on the storytelling, just as the letter-from-the-editor style is. You can even think of this email newsletter style as a bunch of mini letter-from-the-editors put together into one newsletter. 

Quick tip: Make sure not to make your first emails image heavy—this can decrease deliverability, sending your emails to the spam folder and effecting your open rates (booooo!).

Here’s an example of a “hustle” style email newsletter:

Like we said at the start of this article, you don’t have to follow these styles to a “t”. Each of these email newsletter styles is a great launching point, and then your subscribers will show you what they really love to see through their open rates, link clicks, and even by looking at your forward rate.

If you’re subscribed to DM Insider, these email newsletter styles probably look familiar. 

We use a combination of styles in our weekly DM Insider emails, sent exclusively to our Insider list.

Here’s what those subscribers are getting on a weekly basis:

The first section is letter-from-the-editor style of a featured article that is original content from DigitalMarketer.

The second section is “link” style, which we call Inside Five. It’s 5 links, each with a paragraph that explains why the linked content is valuable to the subscriber. This section was very purposeful for the DM Insider newsletter template. 

We added it to make sure that if a subscriber didn’t particularly relate to the featured article content (i.e. the featured article focuses on Instagram marketing and they’re not advertising on Instagram), we’d give ourselves a chance to give value through other related digital marketing topics. 

The last section of the DM Insider newsletter highlights sponsored content and candy content. Sponsored content refers to a tool that we advocate for (and currently don’t get paid to promote). These are the tools that the DM team is using and wants you to know about too.

The candy content is swipe files of great marketing strategies in the wild. These are headlines, ads, emails, anything that caught our eye and made us think—wow, that’s good marketing. 

Alright, we think you’re just about ready to hit that pretty “send” button and publish your first email newsletter. All you need to do is figure out what newsletter style (or combination) fits your audience and goals best and you’re ready to become the next Morning Brew, The Skimm, or DM Insider.

(NOTE: Need a helping hand with your digital marketing efforts? Or maybe you just want proven, actionable marketing tools, tactics, and templates to implement in your business? Check out the latest deal from DigitalMarketer, and you will be on your way to helping your business grow.)

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