Definition: Newsletter marketing is the practice by which companies send informational and product-focused content via an emailed letter to a subscriber list that comprises potential and existing customers. Online businesses utilize newsletters to keep their brand top-of-mind for consumers, establishing authority in the space and notifying readers of products that may interest them.

Gauging the success of newsletters

Like all marketing initiatives, newsletters need to have a quantifiable impact on the business. The first step is setting measurable goals, which often include:

  • Increase recipients, measured in subscribers
  • Read the newsletter, measured by open rate
  • Fulfill the desired action (typically a visit to the website), measured by click-through rate
  • Make a purchase, measured in attributed revenue

These base goals are catered to various sales campaigns or business initiatives the newsletter could reinforce. For example, an online clothing retailer heading into the Fall season may want to promote their collection of jackets and other winter clothing. The newsletter could then contain content about winter fashion trends, with tracking links to cold-weather products.

Effective newsletters are informational, not sales-driven

Web users of every ilk are regularly bombarded with offers, sales, and promotions. To get customers to open and read an email, the content needs to be genuinely interesting - beyond an attempt to sell them merchandise or services. Users are much more likely to open an email targeted to educating or entertaining them, and this is accomplished in the subject line. But with that expectation comes the necessity to actually follow through on the subject's promise.

Newsletters give online businesses an opportunity to demonstrate authority and expertise on the subject of their products. Tell subscribers why certain materials are better, some styles are popular, or a story about your brand. These give readers a reason to trust you and also tell a story that brings more personality to your brand. Customers with a strong attachment to a particular company spend 23% more than average consumers, and the newsletter is a prime candidate to distinguish a brand from the competition.

One proposed methodology for newsletters is 90/10: 90% information, 10% sales material. With the right balance, less is more and the educational material will lead to more sales than product copy.

Checklist for an effective newsletter

Businesses from a variety of industries utilize newsletter marketing to reach their target audiences and create brand exposure. Each company designs its distribution differently depending on the wants and needs of its readers. However, every newsletter contains certain necessary elements to make it successful:

  • Creative headlines: Subject lines should entice the reader to open the email and accurately represent its contents.
  • Relevant and consistently scheduled: Information should be specific to the target audience and be published in regular intervals.
  • Strong call to action: Every newsletter should have a desired action to be performed by the reader.
  • Uncluttered format: If leads are confused or overwhelmed by the formatting, they are more likely to unsubscribe or be disengaged with the newsletter.
  • Mobile responsiveness: More people are using mobile devices to check email and shop online. Companies need to make sure their newsletters are optimized for tablets and smartphones for the best results.
  • Unsubscribe: Businesses want to keep leads as happy as possible, even if that means losing their subscription to a newsletter. Furthermore, opt-in forms must be visible for potential customers to sign up.
  • Incentives: Rewards will not only attract consumers to opt into newsletter marketing, but to make a purchase.
  • Terms and Conditions: Leads will want to know what their personal information is being used for when they sign up for a newsletter. Include a link to your privacy policy so they can be reassured that their data won't be shared.


Bigcommerce is the leading ecommerce platform for growing and mid-market retailers.

Learn more:
1. Visit our commerce blog
2. See our best-in-class features
3. Request a demo


Try Bigcommerce free for 15 days and see what plan is right for you
Start free trial
High-volume or established business? Call for a demo. 1-866-581-4549

Start your free trialHigh-volume or established business? Call for a demo.1-866-581-4549