|E-Newsletter Best Practices|
What will entice subscribers to read your e-newsletter? Here are some best practices. (I'm not saying this newsletter follows all of them, but I do try.)
- Short articles, optional to click for more information
- A 100-word synopsis, with a link to a longer article of maybe 750 words
- Written with scanning and screen-reading in mind: not like "regular" newsletter articles.
- Lots of sub-headings, bulleted lists, and other chunks of text
- Clear calls to action, reasons to click
- To get more information, request a copy of something, sign up, provide feedback, etc. Most e-mail services provide a way to track click rates, which are interesting to analyze over time
- Consistent "sections" in each issue. One possible structure:
- Feature (again, still short)
- In the News
- Quick Q and A (a mini, one-question poll or a way for readers to ask a question, to encourage more interaction)
- Friendly language (as marketing expert Michael Katz says, "pick one idea, boil it down, speak like a human being.")
- In the archives, by topic, possibly geographic area, or other relevant-to-you filter
- Note: Most e-mail services let you maintain an archive, but the one in Constant Contact is not searchable nor does it show up in search engines. However, when the newsletters are archived on your own site, they are searchable. Mail Chimp, another popular service, has a plug-in to transfer an archived newsletter to a WordPress blog, which, again, is also searchable.
- Lots of white space, very easy to scan
- Check that the top of the newsletter that people view in their "preview pane" has something interesting to continue reading-not a huge graphic
- Colorful (without going overboard) and approachable, design consistent with the overall brand
- Easy-to-find links to website, social media sites, archives, forward to a friend, subscribe, back issues
- Consistent time when it is sent--consider shorter, more frequent issues than quarterly
- Subject lines with no more than 50 characters. Rule of thumb is not to use the same subject line every time (e.g., "Ease in Writing, September issue") and to make focus on the topic except when the "brand" is recognizable.
What works best for you? Please let me know.
- Consider segmenting your list and running some tests, such as sending at different times or with different subject lines.
Here's a chart compiled by Top Ten Review that compares the main companies' pricing and features.
Next month: Special considerations for mobile devices.
Jeff and Merianne Liteman, coauthors of Retreats that Work, alerted me that September is Be Kind to Writers and Editors Month. So take a minute to appreciate your won talents and those of your colleagues!
Ruth Thaler-Carter, another reader, let me know that Communications Central is running a conference on Editorial Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, in downtown Baltimore. (Maybe one way to celebrate "our" month is to attend?)