Five of the best email newsletters

Get inspired to improve your email newsletter with a glance at these five engaging examples

Email newsletters remain the most popular way for B2B brands to engage an audience on a regular basis.

A recent survey showed that 74% of marketers use newsletters to reach their audience. But with so many out there, a lacklustre offering risks being banished into inbox obscurity. But there are plenty of newsletters worthy of your time. Content Desk, for example, compiles the week’s content marketing comment, inspiration and guides into an email newsletter that lands in your inbox on Friday lunchtime.

The following five examples – from a variety of sources – all proffer clues as to what makes a successful newsletter. From tone of writing to design, glean some inspiration for your newsletter to keep hold of those subscribers, drive business and most importantly, engage your audience.


theSkimm was started by two long-time friends and producers at NBC News. It delivers daily news updates in a distinctive style.

As easy to digest as a perfectly chilled aperitif, the stated aim is to ‘make it easier for you to feel smarter’. Complicated global events are reduced to one-liners and cultural references, just held within the boundaries of good taste by the high standard of the writing and an in-on-the-joke understanding of its audience.

Each Daily Skimm begins with an offhand context of how it was created (for example: “Skimm’d over a bowl of chilli and The Bachelor”) and a surprising quote – alongside a Facebook and Twitter share button. The main content is a story split into background, current detail and ‘theSkimm’ – comprising the top line info of what has happened.

But where content marketers can really learn from theSkimm is in its focus on brand ambassadors where a bevvy of Skimm’bassadors drive the message on social media. The more subscribers you recruit, the more goodies (or ‘swag’) you’re offered. So while social-savvy advocates help boost the marketing, theSkimm can get on with the content.

By creating a true community feel to the content and messages (each Daily Skimm ends with the birthdays of Skimm’bassadors), it has recruited a smart, politically and culturally aware army of advocates.


Dave Pell, the creator of NextDraft, signs off each of his daily emails as ‘Managing Editor, Internet’, which just about sums up the style of the newsletters.

An investor in Silicon Valley, Pell has become principally known for NextDraft. Each day he scours news sites and curates 10 stories to feature (‘from Jerusalem to J-Lo’), typically introduced by a playful headline.

Where NextDraft excels is in the wry humour that pervades. wanting readers to feel like they are reading an email they could reply back to, and building a human connection online.

Content marketers aiming to build relationships would do well to take a look at NextDraft – with its mixture of impeccably sourced content and an amiable, always-human tone of delivery.

WTF with Marc Maron

Marc Maron’s podcast WTF is one of the success stories of the digital age. In 2009, Maron was a struggling and embittered stand-up comic in the midst of a messy divorce and being fired from his job as a radio host.

He began interviewing fellow comedians, and moved the operation to his garage in Los Angeles. WTF remains the high watermark of interview podcasts and acts as virtual therapy for guests, listeners and Maron alike – attracting everyone from Robin Williams to Barack Obama.

To connect the strands of his live shows, podcasts, books and news, Maron’s stylishly designed weekly newsletter drops in subscribers’ inboxes at the start of each week.

True to form, Maron pontificates on what’s happened to him, what he’s been doing, eating, what may have irked him in the previous days – ending with a quick update on his upcoming podcast guests.

For content marketers, the WTF newsletter is a great example of knowing your brand. In Maron’s case, his own neuroses and rage-ridden self-help has become his defining feature. As such, the newsletter is driven by this distinct voice.

It’s a good lesson for content marketers putting together newsletters: whether it’s industry insight, practical tips or opinion pieces, find out what attracted your subscribers in the first place and give them more of it.

The Spin

The Guardian’s weekly cricket email is one of Content Desk’s secret comforts on a Tuesday afternoon.

For a newsletter from the sports desk of one of the world’s largest newspapers, The Spin is a surprisingly personal read.

Helmed by the considerable journalistic heft of senior sportswriter Andy Bull, the newsletter focuses on one topic per week.

Human stories are the order of the day, and in that sense cricket is the ideal environment – a haven of oddball characters and eccentric minutiae.

The Spin recognises these things as the crucial point of difference for cricket, taking advantage of these eccentricities and revelling in their joy.

As content marketers, we can recognise the pleasure of being swept along by the words of a skilled writer with an acute focus on the idiosyncratic.

Even from the desk of a large corporation, a sense of the personal in email newsletters is achievable.


MarketingProfs’s newsletters may lack in design flair, but they make up for it by being filled with reams of practical marketing information.

There’s a daily email as well as a weekly newsletter compiling the best bits of the week. Where MarketingProfs stands out, and where it is a lesson for all content marketers, is in its focus on a truly multimedia offering.

There are videos, podcasts, at-a-glance articles, ‘how to’ guides and seminar links – for which you are encouraged to sign up as a MarketingProfs Pro member and receive discounts.

This commitment to creating useful content across a wide variety of platforms is something that all content marketers can learn from, including how widening the net in terms of delivery can help draw in a broader audience.

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