Email is not dead and nor are newsletters. These days you don’t need to be a professional web designer to send out a newsletter. Most newsletter management systems have WYSIWYG editors with templates and plugins to maximize your reach.
There are however some basic rules to creating a compelling newsletter:
- Permission. It’s important that you get permission from people to email them. Having them opt-in to receiving your emails will be better received and your click-thru rate (CTR) much higher. Plus you’ll comply with the CAN SPAM rules.
- Segmentation. Send people emails that are pertinent to them. If you are having a fundraiser or event in North Carolina then don’t send a “Save the Date” email to everyone in your list because it’s not relevant to them.
- Simple Layout. People don’t like to read paragraphs of text unless they are reading a book or a newspaper. So keep it brief. Use a simple layout (2 columns, 2 rows) and make it ready easily, like a list.
- Catchy Subject Line. Make it short (less than 40 characters), avoid control characters (@#$%!*, etc), a catchy headline and keep it simple.
- Concise Text Formatting. Use bold, bullet points, short paragraphs, few paragraphs. Consider the medium in which the newsletter is being consumed. (i.e. smartphone, desktop, iPad/tablet, etc)
- Image Formatting. Use a mail service that hosts the images on a server rather than in the email. This way their email server won’t block the images from appearing. They will appear when the email is opened automatically.
- Don’t use MS Word. MS Word has built-in formatting that when you copy and paste from it into a newsletter template, often times you’ll get hidden carriage returns and unwanted formatting. If you want to type up your text first, then use Notepad. Copying and pasting from Notepad will keep the original formatting.
- Utilize plugins. Most email campaign management systems allow you to incorporate social media plugins so that people can tweet, email or share your newsletter online.
- Create a newsletter archive. Another thing is always insert the option to “Click to View this in a Browser” so that you can easily copy and paste that link to create an archive of your newsletters on your website (and also use that link to post to social media outlets).
- Allow easy opt-out. Most programs offer a one-click option that you can place anywhere in your newsletter. Consider placing it in the footer. Also, include a reminder that they opted-in to this newsletter.
- Test. Test. Test. And I mean this. Test the email newsletter on different browsers (Chrome, Safari, IE, FireFox) and test it on different smart phones vs how it appears on a tablet or desktop computer.
- Regular Frequency. Like with anything else, by establishing a regular frequency you get people accustomed to seeing your newsletter in their Inbox. Most companies can default to a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly newsletter. Too few newsletters make people lose interest and forget about you and could potentially cause them to opt-out when they receive your newsletter. Too frequent, can become annoying. So find the right balance.