Key ingredients for a brilliant e-newsletter

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With the ever-growing use of computers and devices that can access the internet, the publication of electronic newsletters has become increasingly prolific. And with the constant advancements in desktop publishing software to make packages more user-friendly, it’s now very easy for someone with limited computer skills to design a professional looking e-newsletter in a short period of time.

While building up a solid readership for your e-newsletter might take some time and hard work, doing so will bring you numerous benefits, including: positioning yourself as a thought leader and source of industry knowledge for your niche, giving you a platform to communicate information about your company and products, raising brand awareness, providing a channel for receiving feedback, greater insights into your customers requirements and so forth.

Here are some of the key ingredients for a brilliant e-newsletter:

Clickable subject lines
Instead of emailing the e-newsletter with a generic subject such as “[Company name] January 2014 Newsletter”, think of subject titles that might raise some eyebrows or turn some heads. We’re not advocating coming up with deliberately controversial subject titles (although sometimes this tactic can work, depending on your demographic), but rather, coming up with the kind of titles that will break people out of the autopilot state they’re in when sifting through their email inbox. Using the most interesting article within the newsletter as the subject title is one way to go, or perhaps something that pertains to a particular geographical location or product.

Eye catching headlines
As with the subject line, the headlines within the e-newsletter should be eye catching and give some indication of the kind of content which is to follow. Headlines are great for breaking down the newsletter into digestible chunks. People have a short attention span; if they don’t immediately recognise the information in front of them as something of value, they are likely to click away.

Customer-focused content
Remember, your e-newsletter is not a hard selling tool – it’s primarily there to expand your communications and relationship with your audience. It’s possible to achieve a balance in how you combine articles about industry trends with ones that promote your company’s products. While tailoring your content to your core demographic is crucial, the language should be simple and straightforward so as not to leave the audience feeling isolated. Entertaining stories or ones with a human touch also tend to go down well because they make people feel as if they are receiving a newsletter from real human beings instead of a faceless corporation.

Aesthetics and images
Your newsletter should have a visually appealing layout and if possible, follow the same colour scheme and formatting as your company’s branding. Make it as easily navigable as possible by adding a hyperlinked table of contents at the start of the newsletter so that people don’t have to spend a second more than necessary to jump to the article that peaks their initial interest. Including images in your newsletter provides a richer experience for your readers. When choosing images, always go for something personal and emotive over a bland stock image. Wherever possible, use photos taken by in-house staff – they are more likely to show the personal touch!

Regular publishing dates
It is a good idea to stick to your chosen publication schedule, so your readership will come to expect the newsletter on the day that they’ve been told it will be published. This will help to maintain trust and credibility in the eyes of the people that you are seeking to influence or who matter most to the ongoing success of your business!

Meticulous proofreading
It goes without saying, meticulous proofreading is absolutely essential before releasing an e-newsletter. Ideally, this should be done by at least two or more individuals because after working on something for a long period of time it becomes much harder to come to an objective conclusion. However, from time to time mistakes do occur, so try to  discern whether it’s worth leaving a minor typo the way it is or whether a re-issue needs to be made.

No spam-mail-opt-in only
Although you may be tempted to automatically sign people up to your newsletter using a pre-existing list, this kind of tactic doesn’t pay dividends in the long run. People don’t appreciate unsolicited e-newsletters and will immediately consider it as spam mail, regardless of how content rich or nicely presented it is.  Once people learn of your newsletter from word of mouth or decide to opt in based on their high regard for your company, you’ll have a much better foundation for creating a highly successful e-newsletter.

Of course, hard copy newsletters still have a place in the communication mix: check out this blog post for some great tips to ensure yours get read.

(Photo: mantasmagorical)

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