Scalable Email Newsletter for Columbia University


Develop a scalable email newsletter that would driver higher engagement. Content strategy involved solidifying Columbia University as a research institution, and highlighting University life for prospective professors, staff, and students.


  • Promote Columbia University as a research institution.
  • Reduce time spent putting newsletter together (existing version took up to 2 weeks)
  • Deliver newsletter more than once a month.
  • Highlight University life for prospective professors, staff, and students
  • Modernize visually-outdated newsletter hand-coded with HTML and CSS.
  • Add features for increasing engagement, like a subscription page, and compatibility with different inboxes and mobile devices.

My Role

UX Design: studied existing newsletter templates within Mailchimp to understand functional limitations. Created a wireframe and 2 designs on top of the wireframe that would be compatible with Mailchimp. My team and I reviewed the 2 designs, and selected features we liked from each.

Content Strategy: analyzed user data from 1 years’ worth of newsletters. Conducted several A/B tests after launch to improve open and click rates; tested which subject lines led to higher open rates over 6 weeks. Found the “triptych” subject line (which uses keywords to highlight the top 3 subjects featured in the newsletter) had higher and more consistent results.

Created subscription landing page and GDPR-compliant sign-up form on existing website.

The landing page on the Columbia News website encourages subscriptions to the biweekly email newsletter.


  • Achieved average open rate of 26%; ~8 points above industry average.
  • Doubled newsletter average click rate from 2% to 4% in 1 year.
  • Increased email subscribers by 15% in 1 year.
  • Design works on mobile screens and in most inbox platforms
  • Newsletter could be put together within 1 day, instead of 2 weeks.
  • Increased output frequency to 2x a week instead of once a month.
  • Email newsletter became the top 3rd referral medium for Columbia News website.

Before & After – Desktop