If you’re thinking of running an online business, then you’re absolutely going to need an email newsletter. Whether your business involves blogging, developing a mobile app, hosting a podcast, drawing a webcomic, or even shooting photographs — a newsletter is important for ALL of those pursuits.
Why? Because an email newsletter is a guaranteed way to get information out to your fans and followers. Of all the ways to promote and grow your online business, it offers the largest return for minimal effort. And the good news is that lots of services exist that make it easy to set up your first email newsletter.
The key to a successful newsletter? Making sure it looks good. Fortunately, you can find tons of free templates all across the Web. Here are some of the better ones we’ve found and how to use them.
How to Use Email Newsletter Templates
Email newsletter templates are fantastic because they handle all of the design work for you, allowing you to focus 100% on the words you want to say and the content to be included. However, as convenient as they are, you’ll still need to do a bit of work on your end.
1. Download and extract the template. All of the templates highlighted in this post are available in ZIP format. Not sure what that is? Check out our helpful post on how to extract files from ZIP archives. Once extracted, you should see a file called index.html or build.html — this is the template.
2. Edit the template. Open the HTML template file using a programming text editor like Notepad++, Atom Editor, or Sublime Text. Do NOT use a rich text editor like Microsoft Word or LibreOffice because they inject extraneous code that will ruin the email template.
Once opened, edit the template with the information you want to send out. Feel free to change anything about the template, including the text, images, and even the CSS design elements. If you’ve never done this before, you should take a few days to learn the basics of HTML and CSS.
3. Copy the template. Once everything is edited to your liking, open the HTML template file in your Web browser. Go to the menu and select Edit > Select All followed by Edit > Copy. This loads the template contents into your clipboard.
4. Paste the template. Now go to your email client — whether Gmail, Outlook, Postbox, Thunderbird, etc. — and paste everything into the body of a new email message. If it doesn’t look right, you may need to switch the email’s message type from Plain Text mode to HTML mode.
That’s it! Now you can send out the email to your newsletter list and your recipients will see a beautifully rendered email according to the template.
Antwort (German for answer or response) is a minimal template that’s meant to be a clean canvas for you to alter in whichever ways you want. It comes in three varieties: a single column layout, a double column layout, and a triple column layout. As such, Antwort is great for pretty much every kind of newsletter imaginable.
All varieties are responsive, which means they look great on both desktop and mobile. If there isn’t enough room to display columns, they turn into neat rows.
Like Antwort, Basic is a minimal template that’s meant to be customized however you want it to be. Whether you want to send out new product announcements or just summarize your most popular forum threads from last week, this template can do it all.
Mystical is perfect for community-oriented sites — including blogs and forums — that want to highlight their best content and send it out as a sort of digest for readers. It’s particularly useful for high-volume publications.
The template comes in four color schemes: blue, green, purple, and teal. But if you don’t like any of them, you could easily edit all of the CSS fields and use your own custom color scheme.
4. Click Me
Unlike most of the other templates on this list, Click Me is specifically designed for one-time emails that aim to do one specific thing. It would be especially good for welcome emails, password recovery emails, exit emails when users stop using your service, and call-to-action emails for new products.
Go ahead and change the logo image to your own. Unfortunately, this template only comes in white for preset colors, but feel free to edit it however you want.
5. Real Estate
Despite its name, Real Estate can be useful for any kind of email that deals with listings in general, not just real estate listings. For example, if your website offers a service that tracks certain new additions to Craigslist or eBay, then this could be the ideal template for displaying them.
Everything here is straightforward and there’s absolutely no clutter at all. The design is easy on the eyes and effective, meaning you’ll probably get a boost to your click-through rate with this one.
Like the Real Estate template above, Pizza isn’t a pizza-specific template. If your emails deal with changing item prices, flash deals, or limited-time offer coupons, then you’ll probably find this template perfect for your needs. In fact, you’ll likely be surprised by how effective it really is.
7. New Years
Just as we do whenever the new year rolls around, New Years is a template that’s tailored-made for looking back and summarizing all the highlights that happened over some time period, whether that means the last week, month, or year.
But it can also be useful for non-celebratory emails, too. For example, do you just want to send out a digest of interesting tidbits or bits of wisdom? This template’s format is surprisingly good for that. Your imagination is the only limit. Just make sure you customize the color scheme!
Bonus: Zurb’s Email Templates
If none of the above suit what you need, then you may want to check out the 11 free email templates that are available at Zurb. Have you ever heard of Foundation, the front-end framework that powers all kinds of themes and designs across the Web? If so, then you know that Zurb is the real deal.
What’s nice about Zurb’s email templates is that you can tell they’ve been made by people who have a knack for design. These templates are clean and effective, and there are many layouts to choose from, including some that have sidebars, ecommerce highlights, and other useful features.
And of course, these designs are all responsive. You can even test each template with Litmus and see what the emails would look like in dozens of clients like Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Android, iOS, and more.
Campaign Monitor is another place where you can get high-quality email newsletter templates. The first selling point here is that Campaign Monitor is a company that specializes in email marketing campaigns, so you can rest assured knowing that they have the expertise to make templates that work.
The other selling point is that you don’t just pick a template off the rack and use it as is — once you select one of the 24 featured templates, you can customize it further using the provided drag-and-drop editor. Change colors, add new elements, and shift things around to your liking.
When you’re done, Campaign Monitor will ask you to create an account with them, but you can skip it by clicking the Download as HTML & CSS link instead. You’ll still have to input your email address for the files, though.
What’s Your Newsletter About?
Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t overcrowd your newsletter with unnecessary information. Also, avoid spamming your readers with too many newsletters in a given time period. Remember that it isn’t hard for them to declutter their inbox by unsubscribing!
Which of the templates above do you like best? If you have an email newsletter of your own, please tell us about it in the comments! We’d love to hear from you, including any other tips you might have.