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Tips to Writing a Successful Email Newsletter

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Newsletter Writing Guidelines

There are two main concepts you need to worry about when writing a newsletter. The first is the content (what your newsletter is about) and the second is the structure (how your newsletter was coded in HTML). We will give you some hints on both concepts in this article. 

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We first cover the structural (coding) guidelines and then we'll cover the content.

Newsletter coding guidelines

When coding a newsletter you have to make sure that the HTML code you produce will be compatible with majority of the email clients your customers are using. These are, MS Outlook, Apple Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and the list goes on.

So here are some quick tips:

1. Use tables for the layout instead of divs - email clients work better with tables. Some programs such as MS Outlook 2007 do not support float.

2. Use inline CSS - Try not to link to external stylesheets or embed your styles inside the head, because some email clients do not support this. Gmail and Outlook 2007 pretty much ignore anything above the body tag.

3. Test, test ,test - you should test with multiple email accounts and multiple email clients.

Newsletter content guidelines

However, email newsletters aren't just printed newsletters delivered electronically. They must be written using a different style for a unique reading environment. These top 10 points will help you publish a successful and valuable email newsletter.

1. Remember that your reader is reading light, not matter (ink). When reading light we blink less often and we're unable to adjust text size by moving the document closer or farther from our eyes. This causes more eyestrain than reading the printed page.

2. Remember that because of this potential eyestrain, your reader will more likely scan a page, looking for key words or phrases to get the information he/she needs without reading every word. A Sun Microsystems study determined that 79 percent of people who visit Web pages, for example, don't read them...they scan them.

3. Remember that you only have a few seconds to capture your reader's attention. Wow your reader with valuable information that doesn't have a lot of introductory material.

4. Write short. Short means about 50 percent less than you write for a printed newsletter. Each article should be about two page-downs at the most with a maximum sentence length of 15 to 20 words, maximum paragraph length of five sentences, and a maximum article length of four paragraphs. Remember...these are maximums!

5. Remember to write in a conversational tone. Newsletters are written with "friendly authority". Let your personality show through and readers will more likely invest their time reading what you have to say.

6. Remember to use lots of bullet points and numbered lists. Lists are easy to scan and they help the reader absorb each item one at a time.

7. Remember to limit each article to a single concept. Add resources such as web sites where longer articles or more information can be found.

8. Remember that email newsletters are easily forwarded. Never write anything that you wouldn't want the whole world (including your competition) to read.

9. Remember that email newsletters only cost you your time. Send your newsletter out consistently and reap the marketing rewards of regular contact. Email newsletters are one of today's most economical and successful marketing tools. Use it!

10. Remember that newsletters are considered a news source. Unlike other direct mail pieces, newsletters enjoy the same status as newspapers and other news media. Respect this privilege. Be sure your information is accurate and newsworthy. Enjoy the marketing advantage while maintaining integrity to your readers.


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