Columbia News, the official newsroom for Columbia University, needed a scalable email newsletter that would driver higher engagement. The content strategy involved solidifying Columbia as a research institution and highlighting University life for prospective professors, staff, and students.
- Existing newsletter hand-coded with HTML and CSS
- Took up to two weeks to put together
- Design breaks in different inboxes and on mobile devices
- No subscription page
- Visually outdated
- Sent out once a month
For the UX design… I reviewed existing newsletter templates within Mailchimp to understand its functional limitations. Then I created a wireframe and two designs on top of the wireframe that would be compatible with Mailchimp. My team and I looked over the two designs and selected the features we liked from each.
For the content strategy… I looked over user data of a year’s worth of newsletters and conducted several A/B tests after launch to improve open and click rates. For example, I tested over six weeks what kind of subject line led to higher open rates: triptych, which uses keywords to highlight the top 3 subjects featured in the newsletter; or a conversational subject line, which uses marketing-speak to intrigue readers. In the end, the triptych subject line had higher and more consistent results.
I also created a subscription landing page – an implicit requirement for this project – on our company’s existing website and ensured the sign-up form was GDPR-compliant.
- Achieved average open rate of 26%; ~8 points above industry average
- Doubled newsletter average click rate from 2% to 4% in one year
- Increased email subscribers by 15% in one year
- Design works on mobile screens and in most inbox platforms
- Newsletter could be put together within a day, instead of two weeks
- Supervisor ordered the email to be replicated and sent twice a week
- Email newsletter became the top 3rd referral medium for the Columbia News website
- Added a “Featured Events” section, which users