Part 6 Tips for Writing and Designing Your Newsletter
Never Stop Testing
It takes time to find the right form and tone for your email. Ask for feedback, test, and prototype. Don’t assume you know what’s best. (Read about how BuzzFeed tested its email and app in public.) Also be sure to test how your templates and designs look across different platforms. Email programs, like Outlook or Apple Mail, all handle mail differently. Just as you have to test websites in different browsers, you need to test emails in different inboxes. Try http://litmus.com/ to test how your newsletter will look.
Some Key Early Choices
Is the newsletter the product, or is it a bridge to another product? Is it a standalone, or do you want people to click through to your website? Will your newsletter be edited or automated (or a hybrid: edited with a bit of RSS content)? These choices will shape how you write and design your newsletter.
Before Hitting Send
Proofread. You can’t edit it after you hit send. Check all your links and make sure they work and go to the correct url. Make sure images have metadata and alt text. Check your subject line and “From” field — newsletters tend to do better with a person’s name in the From field.
Learn from MailChimp’s Experience: Don’t End Up in the Spam Folder
Following is a list of things to avoid in each area.
- Subject Line: Overuse of punctuation, special characters, and phrases like “free,” “act now,” or “open immediately.”
- Formatting: ALL CAPS, crazy colors, and extra exclamation points!!!!
- Content: Anything about getting money, paying less money, or money-back guarantees.
- Code: Sloppy code, extra tags, code pulled in from Microsoft Word.
- Images: Too many images or one single image and no text to balance it.
There is no one right length for newsletters. There are successful short and long newsletters. What matters is whether the form of your newsletter works for your goals and audience. This list of “15 Email Newsletter Examples We Love Getting in Our Inboxes” from HubSpot gives a great overview and at-a-glance look at how very different newsletters can be successful.