Robbie Richards shares why (and how) Databox is the most powerful tool his agency uses to share and improve SEO and PPC performance for clients.
Case Study | Apr 1
Belynda Cianci on December 11, 2019 (last modified on January 6, 2020) • 17 minute read
As marketers and creatives, connecting with other sources of information, tips, and examples of great content helps to keep the saw sharp and expand our understanding of the industry. Even info sources from outside your direct line of work can provide insights that help your craft and make you even more effective from day-to-day.
There’s a lot of information out there! With so much to choose from, sometimes it can be overwhelming to find just what you’re looking for.
We’re always on the lookout for a solid recommendation, so we reached out to 38 professionals to find out the best email newsletter they open when they need to go back to the well for inspiration.
We learned some cool and surprising sources for great info and examples, with some crowd favorites in the mix. If you’d like to see specific examples in your industry, check out the categories below:
During our survey of best email newsletters, a few names came up repeatedly—our experts loved them for their timely information, comprehensive coverage of meaningful topics, and their power to inspire and delight. Here are our top three most recommended:
Quite a few of our experts shared their love for the SEO and traffic-building insights contained in the Backlinko newsletter.
Nevena Sofranic of Omnes Group called the weekly newsletters from founder Brian Dean “like mini-tutorials,” that allow them to “implement some of the insights.” says Sofranic, “I am not a marketing professional, I am an owner of a recruitment agency, and this helps me stay up to date.” David Silverman of Solution Loans agrees, praising the newsletter for its, “really useful SEO tips via email each week that you can use right away.”
Farasat Khan of IsItWP likes that “They don’t blast my inbox with their emails. They provide valuable insights within their newsletter.” Khan also likes that the newsletter is self-contained, and not a launch-pad for what’s on the site. They “have it all. I don’t have to click on links to read more.”
Search It Local’s Alexander Porter also likes this approach, calling Dean and the team “on the cutting edge of value-driven content marketing. Their guides are so full of practical tips, graphics, and guides that there’s always something new to learn – whether you’re new to digital marketing or an old hat.”
Said Porter, “They flip the script with their email newsletter. Driven by plain text and white contrast, Backlinko newsletters forgo graphics and interactivity while staying true to their ethos of providing value. You’ll still get the answers and insights you signed up for. But with zero distractions in the form of color or images, you won’t be distracted along the way. Design-wise, Backlinko newsletters have mastered the art of simplicity without losing any of the value their site based blogs and guides are so famous for.”
“While many marketing newsletters come with endless CTAs and sign up options (you know who you are!) the Backlinko newsletter regularly arrives in your inbox with zero CTAS,” showing readers that “The Backlinko team has a clear, transparent focus on providing value and expecting nothing in return. No hyperlinks in sight. And you know what that does? It makes me go to their website to consume more content. To sign up for courses. And to recommend them to everyone I can – just like I’m doing right now.”
Oksana Chyketa of Albacross also loves Backlinko’s simple approach. “It’s a plain, readable and mega-short text, no images, usually only one link, and straightforward subject line.
Chyketa knows the value of what’s inside Dean’s emails from the very first word. “Here are some stats regarding subject lines: about 47% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone and at the same time about 69% of email recipients will send that email directly to their spam folder based solely on the subject line. So, every time I get Brian Dean’s newsletters I always know what they are about just by examining the subject line – simple and straightforward.”
Several of our experts love the irreverent and informative daily take on business & tech provided by Sam Parr and his band of renegade journalists over at The Hustle.
Cierra Flythe of BoardActive says, “ It features rich media to give a high-impact visual statement, and the copy contains short text with immediate insight into their current topic. Being direct and featuring interesting creatives draws a reader in immediately.”
Jarie Bolander of The Daily MBA calls it, “well written and timely,” adding that they enjoy that “All the information is relevant to what I do for a living.”
“The Hustle focuses on business news with an emphasis on Silicon Valley and Bay area companies,” says Ian Wright of BrilliantAirports.com, adding, “What makes it better than other business newsletters is that it is both informative and funny.” Says Wright, “they often include a bunch of really interesting business stories you don’t see elsewhere,” and calls The Hustle “My only must-read daily newsletter.”
Michael Dinich of Your Money Geek recommended The Morning Brew to us, saying it “has one of the most beautifully-designed newsletters I have seen. The content is informative, it’s laid out wonderfully, and they do an amazing job of incentivizing readers to forward the email to colleagues and friends.”
Dorian Reeves of SH1FT also loves Morning Brew. “They use a friendly, young people-oriented tone to talk about the news. It saves a lot of time to just read their emails in the morning instead of browsing three different apps for news.”
Sometimes a brand goes the extra mile in delivering value and creating experiences for their subscribers. Here are a few brands doing it right, according to our experts:
Umarah Hussain of Colewood says, “we love Airbnb newsletters as they’re a breath of fresh air. They stand out from the clutter we amass in our inboxes every day. The newsletter is clean, minimalistic, easy to view and to navigate. It’s great to see what images and little typography can do to bring a company to life.
Says Hussain, “Overall, Airbnb provides its subscribers with image-heavy yet interactive newsletters, which would not only intrigue just about any travel-savvy human, it would increase click-through rates and user engagement would upsurge.
Karoline Kujawa of ClearPivot shared the love for BestBuy’s email newsletters. “They use all the best practices,” says Kujawa. “They include creative and attractive videos, GIFs, and images. They personalize and use unique, attention-grabbing subject lines and preheaders. And emojis.” They also share relevant personalized info, like current rewards available within the email.
Birddogs gets a vote of confidence from Andrew Clark of Duckpin. “While I sometimes find Birddogs’ newsletter’s humor to be a bit extra, I applaud the company for leaning fully into its personality and knowing how to connect with its target audience, even at the expense of ridicule by others.” Said Clark, “Given their marketing, I would guess the team is comfortable in their skin and are okay with a little bit of heat if it generates sales.”
Lexi Grafe of Elementive cited the great approach of outdoors brand REI. “I personally always click on REI’s newsletters, because they are always visually appealing and never touch on more than three elements, which makes reading through the entire newsletter very straightforward.”
“What I enjoy most about the newsletter is that it has a very personalized call to action at the end that goes beyond visitors purchasing something. REI appeals to their reader’s humanity. For example, this month they said: ’Join us in making changes to a habit by taking part in our 52-week Opt to Act Plan. Together we’ll leave the world better than we found it.’”
Sam White of Soul CBD showed some love for another adventure brand. “Patagonia does such a great job of showcasing new products and the technology that goes into the products. As innovators in their market, the emails have amazing imagery to better connect users to what makes their products unique in a crowded space. They also do a great job of incorporating interest pieces that have always been at the core of who they are.”
George Hartley of SmartrMail enjoys opening emails from the “Home of Australian Artists” Bluethumb. “The emails are simple and laid out well, yet incredibly beautiful. Being from an art gallery helps with this as the emails are filled with gorgeous images of artwork.
Nick Galov of Review 42 recommends the newsletters of video commerce company Darby Smart. Says Galov, “One of the most engaging newsletters belongs to Darby Smart. It is fun and colorful, yet all of the information is clearly organized. The newsletter doesn’t contain unnecessary information and doesn’t look too salesy. Instead, it provides a careful selection of the most popular articles with a clear CTA button. Plus, each article has an engaging photo that draws people to click on it.”
Editor’s Note: Want to be sure your readers are sticking with your email communications? Keep up to date on list growth and unsubs with the Mailchimp dashboard.
Sameer Somal of Blue Ocean Global Technology chose to highlight the PR and Communications firm LEVICK Communications “Because their email format and inserted media are so engaging, I have never considered ‘opting-out’. I often forward their Tomorrow newsletter to others. As an entrepreneur & keynote speaker active in the legal community, I often share the facts and perspectives gleaned from LEVICK’s email newsletter.”
The key to this sharability, says Somal, is that “LEVICK offers content with a purpose; they are an excellent resource for those seeking to make more informed Public Relations and Digital Media decisions.”
From out of the construction loans and manufacturing funding world comes a recommendation from Autumn Sullivan of Big Sea Co., a faithful reader of Mobilization Funding’s newsletter. “CEO Scott Peper writes the newsletter introductions himself. They are capital-A Authentic. He’s writing to a unique audience — general contractors and subcontractors within the commercial construction industry. Rather than talk about his product, he tackles issues like finding your purpose, leading with vulnerability, and how wellness should be part of your safety plan. The newsletters offer valuable advice mixed with empathy and authority. And NEVER include a sales pitch.”
Ellie Pearce of Whoever You Need recommends newsletters by Wyzowl, a firm that creates bespoke video content. “As they help you to promote your own website visually, they also create really helpful tips on their blog for most business topics such as SEO, how to promote your video and generally anything within the online world of getting your brand out there. Their newsletters are packed full of really insightful tips, new trends to look out for and so on. Their email structure is consistent, keeping to an image, title then text, and generally always has something in there that I can benefit from.”
Mark Rogers of Animalz keeps up with the Robinhood for a daily dose of finance knowledge Says Rogers, “First, it’s a daily newsletter, which is a challenge all by itself. Not only are they sending it daily, but it’s packed with a ton of interesting info about financial news every single day. It’s not just a list of links back to their own content. They link out to other content, which is essential to having a valuable email newsletter — you can’t just write about yourself.”
Sometimes, industry leaders share great content both on the stage, on their sites, and right to readers’ inboxes. These speakers and thinkers can deliver great insight that finds a home with thousands of readers.
Gary Stevens of Hosting Canada recommends marketing expert Tim Ferriss. “Tim Ferriss is a person but he is also a massive brand with his blog, podcast, and books. His newsletter is just him sharing his opinions and various topics he is currently interested in. It’s the best newsletter as there are literally millions of people who care deeply about his opinions.
Stevens enjoys its simple, engaging format. “The newsletter is called 5-Bullet Friday and every Friday, he sends out the five coolest things he has found or explored that week. This newsletter can lead any entrepreneur or person looking to improve themselves to new movies, hobbies, philosophies, or products. It’s truly a great read every Friday.”
Rebecca Graves of Spot On follows Warren Averett, calling the monthly newsletters “engaging, witty and well written. No small feat for an accounting/business services firm where the standard fare is usually dry and boring.”
Most of us are probably familiar with the business exploits of Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson. Our expert Gisela Hausmann reads them faithfully for their diversity and insight. “Each newsletter features articles covering six to nine of the following topics: Purpose, Virgin Group news, News about space travel (Virgin Galactic), Virgin airline news, news about one of Virgin’s projects that focus on saving the environment, sports (often featuring Branson himself), news about Virgin Racing (Formula E), fashion, fundraising for deserving projects, Business tips, pictures of the bare-chested Richard Branson in the gym.”
Said Hausmann of the offering, “In a world of boring and regurgitated content blogging and newsletter writing, Branson’s newsletter is interesting, personal, and full of great ideas on how to improve one’s brand. On top of that, the newsletter radiates his motto: ’Having Fun is key to success.’ Though I read one to two dozen company newsletters per week, I don’t know of any other that features business issues as well as solving the world’s problem in such a fun and positive way.”
Patricia Walterick of Open Space Digital, Inc. is an avid follower of Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You to be Rich” newsletter. Says Walterick, “Hands-down, Ramit Sethi’s company ‘I Will Teach You to be Rich’ has THE most compelling emails I’ve ever seen. They are incredibly witty, extremely funny, a little provocative, a little profane, deeply personal, very succinct, and incredible sales tools. It feels like reading a letter from a faraway friend and you actually look forward to reading the next one.”
Industry blogs and newsletters can provide fellow professionals in the trenches with a dose of reality, an alternate perspective, or occasionally, just a great laugh or think during a coffee break. There were several stand-out industry blogs our experts loved.
Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles shared Adespresso as a contender. “They write in-depth and analytical blog posts and create engaging webinars, so being alerted to the latest updates is always rewarding. Also, they are great at curating interesting marketing articles from around the web. And finally there ‘which test won’ segment is always revealing as they run regular split tests through Facebook and Instagram to test hypotheses and assumptions that many marketers have. They use their ad spend to provide you with answers to questions you may well have and that is never a bad thing to piggyback!”
Kristie Holden of Marketcircle couldn’t land on just one, giving us a top three and great reasons for each. Said Holden”
Anand Iyer, meanwhile, is a fan of the Moz Top 10 newsletter. “Round-up of top 10 most valuable articles about SEO. MOZ will also curate content from other relevant websites so that readers can make the most for the e-newsletter content.” Sharing the spotlight and the information makes them a valuable resource for prime inbox space.
Ron Smith of Revenue River shared with us the Phrasee newsletter, lauding it as “Witty, informative, engaging. “ Smith likes that they “make great use of parody and timeless pop culture to create messages that resonate. Vibrant images, crisp copy, and good CTA’s that make it hard not to click through.”
Editor’s Note: Want to see how your email campaigns fit into the overall performance of your marketing plan? Check out the Marketing Overview (Hubspot and Google Analytics) dashboard to get information in one place.
Guillermo Berasategui of Red Points enjoys something a little more data-driven in their inbox, turning to Statista for great insight. “Their newsletter is always original first-party data presented in nice graphics so you are able to read it in under a minute. Topics are very varied making it a nice five minutes break every day.”
For quick, valuable and targeted SaaS information, Aazar Shad of Userpilot turns to the SaaS Roundup by Chart Mogul “It has 3 best-curated articles. I trust it. The content on that news is amazing and valuable for SaaS content consumers. Why do I love it so much? They read the articles themselves and summarize it in the newsletter for me to check out.”
We agree, saving your readers valuable time and packing a punch with top-notch data makes it easy to click “open.”
Dan Madden of citrushr.com shared Inside Intercom as their favorite. “[The] newsletter is a round-up of what the team have been writing and reading that week. It’s always a good mix of content, and I tend to click on at least a couple of the links every time. The subject lines do a good job of making you feel like you’re missing out if you don’t click, i.e. ‘The secret to…’ or ‘The best advice on…’.”
Madden calls the newsletter “immediately eye-catching… compels you to scroll down for the whole length of the newsletter, and it’s divided into sections so as to not be overwhelming.
It’s easy on the eyes in other ways as well, Madden says. “The copy isn’t sparse but it’s not too blocky either, so it’s easy to skim read and get the gist of the content. The tone is conversational and friendly but there are some really deft phrases in there that are almost literary.”
“The newsletter ends with a section advertising the brand’s messaging platform. It’s titled ‘From your friends at Intercom’, which prompts the reader to venture further into this friendly, familiar community.”
From the world of education, Osiris Parikh of Summit Mindfulness enjoys Nexford University (NU) and its monthly newsletter. “Nexford’s newsletter is–in my opinion–one of the best newsletters higher education. Their content is not only extremely simplistic and eye-catching, but also timely and personalized. In addition, their CTA is clear and makes the reader feel that they are being invited to join initiatives ‘exclusively for curious forward-thinkers and current learners.’”
We think our customers are some of the smartest people around (clearly, we’ve built some pretty great content on their opinions and insights!) Peter Caputa IV of Databox gave a shout-out to the Seventh Sense Email Marketing Newsletter for their innovative and informative newsletter. Said Caputa, “Every month, Mike Donnelly, the founder of Seventh Sense sends out a narrative style email written in first-person voice. He (and Seventh Sense) are absolute experts at email marketing deliverability. So, the newsletter covers email marketing in an in-depth and sometimes a-bit-more-technical way. But, Mike manages to make it relatable and in plain English. He also always highlights other cool tools and content from people he respects.”
Said Caputa in closing, “As a marketer, Mike is a good guy to have in my network. The newsletter gives me an opportunity to keep learning from him.”
We hope you’ve found some new sources for inspiration somewhere in these great recommendations for best email newsletters. Great marketing and copy examples are all around us, waiting to influence our own efforts to make some noise out there. We can’t wait to see what shows up in our inbox next week!
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