The following is an expert from Marc Gordon’s book The Edge Factor:
There are typically two effective ways of sharing information in a way that is presentable and easy to read: print and electronic.
Print is pretty straight forward. A single or double page newsletter letter is considered acceptable. The amount of content you include will depend on the format and size of the letter. What wins out is quality, not quantity. If you don’t have enough information to fill a double page newsletter (4 pages in total), then use a smaller format. Often one really useful tip or idea that people can use is all you need. Remember to always include your contact information, your logo, and keep the design and look of the piece common from one issue to another to create a strong identity.
Electronic newsletters can be delivered one of two ways: either entirely contained within an email, or in a web page that people would access through a link contained within an email.
While I personally prefer everything contained within a single email that can quickly be scanned through, having readers click on a link to get to your site gives you greater opportunity to introduce additional information through downloads and promotions. Emails will be covered in greater detail in chapter 6. For now we’ll just discuss the content of an effective e-newsletter.
Because emails can be sent out for free as often as you want, there is no need to cram them full of information. While a printed newsletter may contain as many as 5 articles, an e-newsletter can contain just one. And as with print, it’s important to keep things clear, easy to read and to the point. This is especially true when all the information is contained within the email.
If you have a lot of material to cover, I recommend writing one or two sentences briefly describing each topic followed by a link to your site where the complete articles can be read. This will allow the reader to have access to the article that is of greatest interest with just one click. If you go this route, make sure that each article is on it’s own page. Do not make your reader have to scroll through pages of text to get to the article. Also, be sure to include links to your main site as well as the other articles. This makes is easy for the visitor to find more information and spend more time on your site.
E-newsletters do not need to be fancy. In fact the simpler the better. People receive a lot of email and if they know yours will be informative and quick to read, they will be more likely to open it. The content is more important than the appearance. However to avoid having your email tossed into the spam folder, make sure your subject line is attention getting and accurate.
People will see your subject line before they actually see the contents of your email. If the subject line makes it look like you’re selling something, it probably won’t get opened. For example, if you are a carpet cleaning company sending out an e-newsletter showing how to remove stains, you would get a better open rate with a subject line that reads “Three ways to get crayon out of carpet” instead of “Remove stains quick and easy”. The first one sounds informative and tells the reader exactly what they will get out of it. The second one sounds like a sales pitch.
Marc Gordon is a professional speaker and the owner of Fourword Marketing, a branding and marketing firm located in Thornhill, Ontario. Fourword specializes in helping businesses create a brand identity and developing effective marketing campaigns. Marc can be reached at (416) 238-7811 or visit www.fourword.biz.