Creating Effective E-Newsletters:Some Final Thoughts

By James V. D’Ambrosio

(This is the last in a series focusing on e-newsletters)

Throughout this series I have provided information and ideas to improve the effectiveness of e-newsletters for nonprofits. Here are some final thoughts worth considering:

Include a Text-Based Version: This is helpful for Internet users with only text-based e-mail capabilities. Most reputable e-mail software applications have a feature to include a text-only version. Without it, some users will just see HTML code and not be able to read content.

Distribution Timing: Sending newsletters mid-week (Tuesday-Thursday) is generally more effective than Monday or Friday. Monitor your open-rates to see which day(s) attract the most readers and then consistently distribute on those days.

Avoid Duplication: Make sure all e-mail newsletters are sent by one designated department in your organization. Confer with colleagues to ensure this is the case.

Plan In Advance: How will you manage incoming e-mail, a growing distribution list, and other operational issues generated by a successful e-newsletter? Having a plan in place will help avoid unexpected problems. 

Manage Subscriber Expectations: If your policy is NOT to respond to e-mail replies, make sure you state that in the newsletter itself. Alternatively, consider directing readers to your Web form or company e-mail address.

Use it or Lose it: Do not collect e-mail addresses until you are nearly ready to send your publication. This is important: when people sign up they expect to receive something soon, and e-mail addresses can quickly become outdated. If too much time elapses between sign up and delivery, people may forget they subscribed and view your publication as spam.

Involve Staff: Solicit story ideas and discuss efforts at staff meetings to ensure your publication has adequate input from other departments and accurately reflects the scope and breadth of your organization. Doing so provides a sense of camaraderie with colleagues and can result in additional story ideas of interest to readers. 

In closing, e-newsletters involve a certain amount of thought and planning to be successful. I’m sure there are other things I haven’t thought of, so I encourage reader’ comments on the subject.



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