E-mail newsletters are becoming very popular of late as a way of communicating with friends, customers, potential customers, or members of a particular community. Whether the goal is keeping in touch, building interest in a project, or sharing local news, e-mail newsletters should do a few things well, such as passing information efficiently and being readable. Unfortunately, many of the newsletters I receive do not fit into this category.
Common Sense Rules for E-mail Newsletters:
- Pick a template and stick with it. I shouldn’t have to search the maze of boxes each time to find the information I want.
- Test your template on various e-mail programs. Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, and Thunderbird all have their quirks and will display your newsletter differently.
- Go easy on the colors. White background and black font are standard for a reason: they’re easy to read. If you feel the need to express yourself, choose a cool picture for the header image or play with the colors of the border area.
- Use a standard font. It’s much easier to read fonts such as Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman, or Trebuchet MS. Our eyes are used to them. For the love, please resist the urge to use Chiller or Comic.
- Keep the newsletter content short. If necessary, provide links to read more of the article, but the newsletter itself should not run way down the page. I can think of several newsletters where the authors could cut their content by 1/4 and still give the same amount of valuable information. If you’re providing community or business news, then you really need to keep each section to a max of 3 sentences in the e-mail itself. Provide a “read more” link to your own web page, which is a win-win scenario.
- Spel Chick.
There is more I could say, but these common sense rules would do a world of good for most newsletters, especially for users of Constant Contact. In fact, users of Constant Contact are the ones who play with a different template every time and typically experiment with red font on a purple background. Just say “no”!
I am on shaky ground here because I send out my own e-mail newsletter. The goal with that newsletter is a cross between entertainment and providing helpful, thought-provoking articles through a variety of forms: fiction and nonfiction. So if anyone on my mailing list thinks I’m inconsistent, call me out!