Your association newsletter is one of the most beneficial pieces to your industry, especially for members and prospects to stay up to date on events, advocacy, continuing education, and more. That said, is your newsletter staying top of mind to your readership? Email marketing continues to produce the highest ROI among all marketing channels, and it continues to stay relevant.
As the number 1 digital publisher for associations, we’ve sent out millions of emails on behalf of 30+ industries. With our auditing of all publications, as well as our tenured experience we’re able to share email newsletter best practices! In this 2-part series, you’ll learn the dos and don’ts of what an effective newsletter should look like and accomplish.
To begin, let’s talk about some basics.
Size and format of your newsletter:
- Keep it simple. Summaries should be kept short – we’re talking two to four sentences max, though there is some wiggle room here. The goal of simplicity is to tease your audience and get them to click to find out more. Your call to actions (CTAs) should always revert to your association’s website, ultimately increasing your traffic.
- Longer emails will be truncated. Gmail will cut emails larger than 102kb and force readers to actively click a link to view the entire newsletter. An email can exceed the 102kb threshold if it contains too much content, images, elements, coding, etc., so don’t overload your newsletter.
- Be consistent. Readers like consistency, however, changing up the layout/content is necessary. By looking at analytics, you’ll be able to tell what content is getting the most engagement. This way, you can tailor the content to your readership wants to learn more about.
- Limit the number of articles. Be brief. In addition to keeping the summaries short, don’t overload your newsletter with too much Research has shown that the optimal e-newsletter length is 700-1,200 words, so too many articles result in reader fatigue and readers may miss valuable information if they must scroll through a lot of content. We recommend including 10-12 articles in each edition of your newsletter.
- Left-justify your content: Although it can be aesthetically pleasing to have text centered within the newsletter, it’s key to remember to left-justify anything that is more than three sentences long. Centered text can cause hardships on persons with dyslexia to read your content.
Things to stay away from:
- Large or too many images: Only include an image if it adds something to the article and goes well with the provided text. Large images with little or no text results in a lot of empty white space that takes away from the overall look of the brief. Images should be no larger than 40kb.
- Table of Contents (TOCs): TOCs were originally used in email newsletters for presenting specific data sets and were not meant for email layouts. Adding unnecessary coding to the newsletter, it increases the file size hindering the delivery of the publication. Not to mention, TOCs are not mobile-responsive. Globally across all our publications, we’ve seen little to no interaction with TOCs.
- Too many colors: Using multiple colors within the same email can look chaotic and be overwhelming to the reader. Instead, choose one or two colors from your brand to give the brief a clean, consistent look.
- Repeating content: Obviously, there will be topics that you want to promote throughout the year like upcoming events, conferences, continuing education opportunities, etc. If you present the same content, in the same way, each week, readers will tune it out. Make sure to change up the verbiage, imagery, placement, etc. If you want to mention the topic each week, take advantage of a calendar/upcoming events module.
- Too many hyperlinks: While it is good to highlight items and promote traffic to your website, including five different hyperlinks in one sentence will increase chaos for readers. It’s recommended to use hyperlinks if you’re sourcing another publication, but if not then use them sparingly. Give the information to your audience via the landing page from your CTA button.
- HTTP vs HTTPS: http links are not secure and will longer open within Chrome on certain settings. Other browsers are soon to follow this path, so use https links instead, as it uses TLS (SSL) to encrypt normal http requests and responses and is more secure.
From subject lines to mobile responsiveness, there’s a lot to unfold for an effective newsletter. But because they’re such an effective way to quantify leads and retain life-long members, the hard work will pay off.