A Complete Guide to Creating a Personalized Interactive Newsletter for Your Database

January 9, 2024

Rahul Ghosh

interactive newsletter hero image

An interactive newsletter delivers better engagement compared to traditional newsletters – this should come as no surprise. But, while making your newsletter interactive is a great first step, personalizing it to the reader is critical to achieving the best possible engagement rate.

As we kick off 2024, personalization is already shaping up to be a major trend and marketing teams are looking for innovative ways to personalize content journeys for their prospects. A key element of this overall strategy is personalizing your email newsletter based on audience segments.

This guide is your ticket to transforming that routine newsletter into an interactive and personalized powerhouse that both engages and converts.

Maximizing Impact: Why Interactive Newsletters Trump Traditional Email Newsletters

Two main audiences receive newsletters from a company:

  1. Your database of prospects that you acquired through various inbound and paid campaigns
  2. Your customers

At the heart of engaging your audience is the privilege of being allowed to tell them about your product or service. That privilege can easily be revoked, if the content you deliver does not add value. This is where the interactive newsletter is essential; crafted to guarantee that the most users possible absorb and actively engage with the content you deliver through email.

Traditional email newsletters are made up of blocks of content (images and text), usually with links to web pages for the viewer to read more. Interactive newsletters, by comparison, offer a personalized and engaging experience. Picture this: an interactive infographic or a calculator embedded right inside your newsletter, inviting the reader’s active participation. Detailed instructions for how to achieve this will be covered in a later section of this guide , but let’s focus on this key fact right now – the more personalized the reader’s experience is, the higher the likelihood of a conversion towards the ultimate goal you have for the audience you are trying to engage.

Your database should consist of some or all of the following 5 categories of “earned” prospects

  1. Top-of-the-funnel inbound leads (new prospects that have just learned about your product or service, or are in the early stages of learning about it),
  2. Blog subscribers
  3. Middle-of-the-funnel leads (for example, someone who downloaded an e-book and/or attended a webinar and/or read more than one case study in the last 60 days, for example)
  4. Sales-ready leads that have not closed
  5. Sales-qualified leads that have not booked a product demo meeting, or booked a product demo meeting but did not make it

Employing an interactive newsletter strategy becomes your secret weapon to deliver personalized experiences with the singular goal of nurturing these prospects towards the bottom of your funnel. The level of personalization you can achieve hinges on the data that you have at your disposal, and how organized it is in your CRM. Nevertheless, even with limited data, an interactive newsletter executed according to our guide’s blueprint will consistently outshine and outperform a traditional email newsletter. Read on to learn about the essentials you’ll need to get started.

Key Elements That Make Newsletters Interactive & Engaging

In this section, we’ll dig into the critical elements that make an engaging interactive newsletter. Given the infinite number of possibilities based on your strategy and target audience, it’s impossible to cover every element in this guide comprehensively. Instead, we’ve put together a selection of common elements found in successful interactive newsletters that are sent out by a range of well-known companies. In addition, we’ll provide links to relevant software to help you take advantage of these tactics yourself.

Before we jump into the recommended content experiences, let’s tackle a crucial caveat: rich HTML emails, the marketer’s go-to for newsletters and other company communications, come with limitations that are important to understand.

Limitations of Rich HTML Emails on Desktop & Mobile

Before we dive into the content experiences you should consider implementing, it’s important that we address the elephant in the room. Rich HTML emails (the ones marketers mainly use for newsletters and other types of company communications) have a few limitations you should be aware of.

First of all, you cannot embed much of anything in your emails when it comes to viewing native interactive content from an email client such as Gmail or Outlook. You are limited to GIFs, images and rich HTML content when sending newsletters to mobile, laptops, tablet and desktop.

So the goal of your front end should be to create an enticing Call to Action (CTA) that maximizes clicks from the people that open your emails.

Once a prospect clicks on one of your links, that is where the interactive element comes into play as part of a tailored experience for your prospects.

Pro Tip: Personalize the email content with a few CRM data tags (in both the email body and the subject line) to optimize the open rate and click-through rate.

Now that we’ve covered the constraints of rich HTML emails, it’s time to explore a few elements that you can add as part of your newsletter to maximize engagement.

Interactive Quizzes & Qualifiers

Interactive quizzes are dynamic tools that boost engagement while at the same time qualifying prospects for you. Engage your network by incorporating quizzes into your newsletters, and generate valuable data at the same time.

Best Placement in the Newsletter

Consider placing interactive quizzes in a dedicated CTA block towards the top of the newsletter, to make sure they are seen and to get the highest level of participation.

Recommended Software

Typeform and SurveyMonkey are some of the market leaders for effortlessly creating interactive quizzes and lead qualifiers.

Success Metrics

Success hinges on aligning with your marketing and sales teams to establish outcomes based on qualifying questions. Tailor the interactive quiz to redirect prospects based on their responses, ensuring a personalized journey.

Pro Tip: Tag every outcome with a custom pixel on platforms like Facebook. This way you can further segment your prospects with interactive quizzes allowing you to serve tailored retargeting campaigns based on their final quiz outcomes.

Gamified Recognition Inside Interactive Newsletters

Google Review Interactive Newsletter example

Gamification means integrating game-like elements into non-game contexts to boost user engagement and motivation. In newsletters, it recognizes achievements through playful elements like badges, for example, to drive an increase in engagement.

Gamification, when implemented effectively, can be a powerful motivator and engagement booster. Tailor your gamification strategy to fit your company’s ethos, understanding that this approach is not necessarily well-suited to every industry.

Best Placement in the Newsletter

Position gamified badges prominently at the top, above the fold, accompanied by personalized statistics and badge.

Recommended Software

Explore tools like Influitive and custom in-app events that lead to CRM updates.

Success Metrics

Evaluate success by measuring engagement from customers using your product after they open and view the newsletter that includes any of their gamified achievements.

Interactive Infographics

Infographics are indispensable for visually presenting complex data or information like industry landscapes, useful insights etc. Drive more engagement by adding interactivity to infographics, which is more likely to result in offering users a curated experience. Compared to a traditional infographic, an interactive one allows the user to select parts of the content that can reveal additional content inside the infographic. Instead of having a giant scrolling design, you can create a better experience while presenting the exact data that your users are most interested in consuming.

Take a look at this example infographic here

Best Placement in the Newsletter

Insert the CTA for your interactive infographics in the middle of the newsletter, right after the main message. To optimize click-through rates from your newsletter campaign, provide context and include a prominent CTA button that links to the main infographic URL.

Recommended Software

Use tools like Infogram to create interactive infographics.

Success Metrics

Look for higher engagement with your infographic content, and higher time on page. Set a baseline for your existing metric and run an A/B test analyzing how much of a lift interactive infographics generate for these two metrics. Just note that for A/B testing, it’s important to keep all other elements of the newsletter the same to in order to attribute the results to the new interactive nature of your infographics.

Personalized Storybooks

Studeo Storybook showcase content

Studeo Storybooks are personalized, interactive, and proven to elevate engagement up to 3X compared to traditional web pages. Leverage the customer data in your CRM to generate Storybooks en masse with personalized elements, enhancing relevance and connection.

Best Placement in the Newsletter

Insert links to Studeo Storybooks strategically in the newsletter based on the email’s theme and strategy. For maximum impact, create a custom graphic with an enticing CTA using action words (Studeo provides several different types of embeddable assets).

Recommended Software

Hahaha…is there anyone better than us? Comment below.

Success Metrics

Evaluate success by measuring engagement with sales leads (booking demos and follow-up meetings – you can embed your booking calendar right inside the Storybook), and against the metrics you used to measure your previous traditional newsletters.

Personalized Videos Using AI Tools

Transform your newsletter strategy by including personalized videos, which you can create using AI tools like Tavus. Simply record one video with placeholders, and then you can upload data from your CRM to be inserted automatically. Tavus walks you through the entire process and the results are very convincing.

Best Placement in the Newsletter

Feature a large video thumbnail at the top of your newsletter for optimal visibility. Tavus provides a landing page for each personalized video. You can customize and embed a calendar to allow your audience to book time with you directly.

Recommended Software

Tavus.io is what we use for our own prospecting here at Studeo. It just works. It also generates personalized thumbnails for your video that can be exported in bulk.

Success Metrics

Measure engagement on the personalized videos compared to generic videos, if you have used video in the past. Track how far into the video your prospects get, and the conversion rate from the landing page to the next step in the journey you have planned out.

Strategies for Infusing Interactivity into Your Existing Newsletter

Shifting to an interactive newsletter experience involves a well-thought-out plan, and immediate results hinge on a clear implementation strategy. Now that we’ve explored the elements that contribute to highly effective newsletters, let’s dive into some practical strategies for the actual implementation.

Strategy 1: Using Synced Merge Tags from your CRM to Create Personalized Content and Audience Segmentation

Depending on which email software you use, you should be able to connect your prospect database to your newsletter using distinct property tags from your CRM. This can range from simple personalizations like addressing recipients by their first name, to incorporating personalized images and thumbnails.

UTM based content personalization
An example of how you can use URL params that are dynamically filled from your CRM data helping you personalize content from your interactive newsletter

At Studeo, we use HubSpot Marketing Hub to simplify content personalization within the email builder. Alternatively, you can create a dedicated prospect list for your interactive newsletter, and segment it based on criteria that aligns with your content strategy. Common CRM segmentation criteria may include company size, specific pain points, which stage of the buyer journey pipeline a segment is in, and their frequency of engagement with your content.

Tailoring a version of the newsletter for each segment, and then enriching each one with relevant interactive elements, is a surefire way to enhance engagement and conversions at any stage in the buyer journey.

Strategy 2: Crafting an Interactive-First Newsletter Design Strategy

A successful interactive newsletter demands a design that seamlessly integrates the personalized interactive elements you plan to include. Consider a design where each content block leads to a dedicated URL, offering users tailored experiences based on what they choose to click on in the email.

For instance, when implementing an interactive quiz, create variations of the quiz based on lead stage or pain points, and link to the appropriate variations for each segment of your list. Similarly, for gamification elements, design custom blocks showcasing achievements through HTML code can dynamically display CRM data based on each user who opens the email.

For a bit of inspiration, check out Google’s monthly interactive Google Maps newsletter which showcases places you have visited, how many new views your reviews have received, etc. The personalized newsletter summary allows for greater engagement and better context of your travel metrics for the month as a user of Google Maps. Each block shows a key achievement such as the number of countries you have visited or total distance walked, to give a sense of accomplishment.

Google Maps interactive newsletter example

Strategy 3: Personalized Prospecting with Studeo Storybooks – A Dynamic Content Experience

At Studeo, our tool allows you to personalize content based on URL parameters. You can store an unlimited number of variables associated with a contact, allowing automatic personalization based on data when creating Studeo Storybooks.

From displaying a prospect’s company logo in an email, to adapting the tone of your email copy based on a prospect’s personality traits (derived from tools like Crystal Knows), personalized experiences simply perform better when it comes to connecting with prospects. The challenge has always been scalability. The goal is to deliver content tailored to individual interests, rather than generic offerings like e-books or whitepapers where only a small part of the content will be relevant to a particular reader.

Generic content does have its merits, but from multiple tests, personalized interactive experiences consistently yield superior engagement.

Best Practices to Ensure Optimal Deliverability & Open Rates for Your Interactive Newsletter

HubSpot CRM example showing how they track a company’s email delivery health

Before delving into sales and follow-up strategies, it’s important to understand how to optimize your newsletters for maximum deliverability and open rates. This will ensure you don’t leave any money on the table by getting the opportunity to expose as many of your targets as possible to the interactive experience you have created for them. There are two key elements that significantly impact the effectiveness of your newsletter before your recipients experience the actual content: deliverability and the subject line.

Optimizing deliverability means ensuring, as much as possible, that your newsletters do not get caught in email spam filters. Consider taking the following steps:

  • Personalize subject lines using CRM data and property tags, and regularly run A/B tests to keep improving them
  • Set up SPF and DKIM in your domain’s DNS, to establish proper email-sending domain configuration
  • Refrain from sending newsletters to unengaged contacts. Maintain a positive interaction reputation for the domain you use for your email sends
  • Include a clear CTA for recipients to unsubscribe from newsletters
  • Leverage tools like HubSpot’s email delivery dashboard to monitor your domain’s email marketing health

Follow-Up Strategies After Sending Your Interactive Newsletter

Once you’ve successfully sent off your newsletter, prospects will start to engage with your content. Avoid the common mistake of sending an email blast without a robust post-send strategy aimed at converting these leads into booked demos for your product.

For e-commerce companies, interactions often occur on websites without direct sales rep involvement. However, for B2B companies, sales managers and leaders should consider the following strategies:

Follow-Up Strategy 1: Collaborate with Sales and Marketing Leaders to Align on Your Follow-Up Process

Initiate a meeting between marketing and sales leaders. Review the interactive newsletter experience along with the expected outcomes of the campaign. List all of the personalized content URLs in a shared Google Sheet for the entire sales team to access. As a result, reps executing the follow-up can speak to exactly what the prospect has experienced so far. You will want to initiate one of three distinct cadences for the team (see below).

Follow-Up Strategy 2: Implement These 3 Sales Cadences Based on Engagement With Your Interactive Newsletter

  • People Who Open the Interactive Newsletter – Engage with prospects who open but don’t necessarily interact with your content using an automated SDR outreach sequence. It’s important that you don’t start pitching to these leads right away. Instead, focus on a outreach sequence where you ask for their feedback on the content of the newsletter. The goal at this stage is to start a conversation with the prospect.
  • People Who Open & Interact but Don’t Convert on the CTA – Run a phone call and automated email follow-up cadence to initiate a conversation and book demos.
  • People Who Interact & Convert on the CTA – Identify prospects who complete actions (e.g., finish a quiz) and send this list for immediate contact by SDR and sales teams. These are the most activated leads in the buyer journey.
An example of our list segmentation after a webinar before sending a personalized follow up email. Same strategy can be used for newsletters.

Follow-Up Strategy 3: Personalize Future Interactive Newsletters Based on Previous Interactions

Segmenting your audience allows you to clone and personalize the next newsletter based on their engagement level. In your CRM, tag the contacts based on their interactions with the previous newsletter. Create personalized segments directly addressing their previous interaction, such as filling out a quiz or viewing an interactive infographic. In this way, you can move more prospects towards your ultimate goal – converting them into customers.

HubSpot CRM Interactive newsletter smart rule
Adding Smart Rule in our CRM to personalize the text and other aspects of our own newsletter depending on different list segments.

Bringing It All Together: Launching Your Inaugural Interactive Newsletter

Implementing these strategies seamlessly transitions your existing newsletter into a dynamic, engaging experience. This helps in building stronger connections with your audience and yielding tangible results across your marketing and sales funnel.

If you’ve reached this point, congratulations! You’ve successfully navigated our guide to crafting your first interactive newsletter for your database.

As always, tracking your experiments and progress is key to continually improving your performance and driving your costs down.

Curious about how Studeo, our AI-powered storytelling platform, can revolutionize your marketing team’s approach to creating personalized newsletter experiences? Take the next step and book a platform demo. We’d be delighted to guide you through our platform’s capabilities and showcase its pivotal role in executing your interactive newsletter strategy.