After 4 Years, We Rebranded Our Email Newsletter. Here’s Why

Every Thursday at 2:00 p.m. ET, we email our weekly newsletter to more than 30,000 subscribers. It contains our most recent educational blog posts, videos, and webinars.

This email earns a high open and click-through rate every week. And the majority of our audience regularly shares positive feedback with us about it.

But we started to wonder: Could we do even better? Were we missing anything? So we went to the experts — you, and all our subscribers — to find out.

This year, we asked more extensive questions in our annual survey. We questioned subscribers about what they liked and what they didn’t. We asked them what changes would improve the email.

When we began analyzing the results, we learned some surprising things. Here’s what you told us and what we did about it.

You said we should stand out more. We took that pretty seriously.

When we asked readers what they thought of our newsletter, one said, “OK, but just ordinary.” And another said, “The simplicity is great. But your branding needs to be stronger.”

Great emails stand out. They stop readers in their tracks. They’re valuable and beautiful. And they have strong branding.

That’s why we’ve rebranded our email with bright colors, a new name, and a new logo. Introducing FWD: Thinking — our updated and improved newsletter.

After running a split test of this updated newsletter against our standard newsletter, we saw positive results. We got great email engagement and happy feedback from subscribers. One subscriber even messaged us to say, “Love this new layout!”

But this newsletter isn’t simply rebranded. Using your feedback, we’ve revamped the content, too.

You asked for quick, easy-to-digest advice. We added it.

As we were reading through the survey results, themes quickly appeared. Time was the most common one. You said you don’t have a lot of it, so you need information you can digest in minutes.

“Give me quick wins,” one reader said.

Another said, “I’d like more content with small, easy steps.”

That’s why we added a quick tip section to our newsletter. This section highlights inspirational quotes, actionable advice, and pro tips. You can read it in seconds and apply it quickly.

Related: The 4 Survey Emails That’ll Give You Answers to Your Most Pressing Questions

You’re busy. Now, you can instantly find out how much time it’ll take to read a post.

Many subscribers told us that they’re not sure if they have the time to read an article when they receive our email. So they archive the message to read later. Then, they never get to it.

That’s why we added read times to our posts within the email. Now, you know what your time commitment is before reading and can plan accordingly.

Related: How to Craft Irresistible Newsletter Content

You said our newsletter was overwhelming. We made it easier to focus on what’s important.

You can’t have too much value in an email, right? That’s what we thought. So we pack each of our newsletters with tons of valuable content.

But some of our readers said this was actually overwhelming. “I think maybe fewer items per newsletter would make me more likely to read it. It’s kind of overwhelming when there are so many articles to read,” said one subscriber.

This feedback was a challenge for us. Although some readers were overwhelmed, others appreciated how much content we included in each email.

Instead of cutting content from the email, we decided to make it easier for readers to focus on what’s new.

In our newsletter, we originally had 3 sections with educational content. The design of each section was identical.

While this format was simple and easy to digest, it could also overwhelm time-strapped subscribers by giving them too many choices.

In our updated newsletter, we’ve made it simple for readers to tell which post is the most important — with design hierarchy. Instead of 3 identically-weighted content sections, we now have 1 featured post and 2 supporting posts.

We placed more emphasis on the featured post by using a larger image, describing the post in more detail, and centering it. We decreased focus for the 2 supporting posts by making them smaller and decreasing the explainer text.

This use of hierarchy makes it easy for busy readers to pick the one post they should read. And for those who want to read every post, we still have the same amount of value in each email.

Related: The Top Email Design Trends You Must Know

You have questions. Now you can ask them directly from our newsletter.

This reader comment had a big impact on our redesign: “I don’t know how to start, and I don’t know how to make the time to do [email marketing]. I work long hours, and I get back home very tired.”

We wanted to help. After brainstorming how we could better serve this reader, we came up with an idea: What if we asked our readers to submit questions directly from our weekly newsletter? Our team of email experts could answer these questions by creating a detailed blog post or video.

So we added a new question submission section to our newsletter. Now, readers can submit their questions. And we can write content to answer those questions in the near future.

Related: The Simple Question You Should ALWAYS Include in Your Emails

What do you think?

We’re excited to see how you like the improvements. Have questions or feedback? Tell us in the comments section below.

10 Comments

  1. Rafał Alitojć

    10/4/2018 8:47 am

    Great improvements, especially those with reading time and a hierarchy of the posts in your emails.

  2. Rachael

    10/4/2018 4:30 pm

    Excellent article. I’ve always enjoyed your newsletter and have gotten good at scanning for information that would apply to me and where we are at with our business. I am in the middle of redesigning our newsletter, in part based on what your previous newsletter format was. Now I will incorporate some of the suggestions you made here.
    Q: Is there a button I can use to ask my readers to submit a question? It would be fun to incorporate that in to our new newsletter.

  3. Liz Willits

    10/17/2018 4:15 pm

    Hi Rachael,

    Thank you!

    For the survey button in our newsletter, we used a button article element in AWeber and linked it to a SurveyGizmo survey. If you’re an AWeber customer, you can drag in a button element too. Then, just create a survey in a survey building platform such as SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo.

    Liz

  4. Leo Searle

    10/5/2018 5:44 am

    Excellent article. I especially appreciated the way you clearly and honestly acknowledged where you had been falling short, then explained the changes you have made and why. This was one of the most useful emails I’ve received from anyone for quite some time. Thank you.

  5. Liz Willits

    10/17/2018 4:13 pm

    Thanks for reading, Leo! And for your feedback.

  6. Rahul Dubey

    10/6/2018 9:20 am

    Hi Liz,

    That was much needed! This brand new layout is something that will make Aweber stand out from competition. Other email marketing platforms should learn from AWeber. Now, I know many a few crucial factors about every AWeber newsletter comes to my inbox. And this will ensure event better open rates for your newsletter.

    Thanks Liz.

    Regards,
    Rahul D
    LearnDigitalwithRahul.com

  7. Liz Willits

    10/17/2018 4:13 pm

    Thank you, Rahul!

  8. James

    10/18/2018 5:49 pm

    This is a great read, regardless of whether someone subscribes to your newsletter or not. Walking us through the insights and rationale and excellent, and a good reminder why we should always be testing our assumptions and why it pays to listen to our customers (and also analyze their engagement.) Kudos.

  9. Ruslan Werntz

    10/21/2018 10:59 pm

    Wow, I loved this new idea you guys have. It so great, as I was reading through the blog, I came up with few ideas for my email list.

    The “Minute Section” is BRILLIANT. Anyone could have come up with it, yet you guys nailed it.

    I’ve been using AWeber for almost 2 years. Satisfied Customer. Although I have employees who are in charge of my email marketing, I still love to get involved. Not for the sake of being controlling. It’s fascinating how a simple email can influence a person thoughts.

    Keep up the good job guys.

  10. Liz Willits

    10/22/2018 10:38 am

    Thank you for the feedback, Ruslan! And thanks for reading our blog and being an AWeber customer.

    Liz