Monday 23 July 2012

No e-news is good e-news...

"You know about websites – you can set up an email newsletter, can’t you?"
If you’re thrown in the deep end of news-by-email and email marketing, here’s a buoyancy aid.

Before you start

  • Have a clear purpose. What’s the business goal? This sets the content agenda.
  • How will you measure success? Generate custom URLs to track website traffic coming from your mailing.


  • Make your subject line interesting and relevant to your subscribers. Not ‘Issue 12 of the hospital newsletter’ but ‘A&E waiting time improvements, beating superbugs, and more’. If you have a system that tracks opening rates, try two different subject lines on a sample of your mailing list, and mail the remainder with the best-performing hook.
  • Choose the right From address for extra impact. Are you more likely to open an email from a real person, or from ‘Hospital News’?
  • Content needs to be relevant to the business goal – think twice about issuing a re-hash of your latest press releases.
  • Keep it brief.
  • Make it easy to browse. If there are multiple articles, include a contents list that will be the first thing people see when they open the email.
  • Follow normal writing for the web best practice. Chunk text using headings and bullet points and write meaningful hyperlink text.
  • Proofread.
  • Set a sustainable schedule if you’re aiming for regular mailings, especially if you need to get others to contribute or sign off content.

Data protection (stay with me)

  • Where did you get your mailing list? People need to agree to you using their information for this specific purpose.
  • Include a privacy statement saying how you will use and store personal details.
  • Make it clear how to subscribe and unsubscribe.
  • BCC. Don’t share your mailing list with everyone on it.

Design and technical bits

  • Branding should be consistent with your corporate identity and ideally with your website – especially if you’re linking from your email to your site.
  • Use HTML email for designed elements. Styles needs to be applied in-line rather than using something like a stylesheet.
  • Make sure the email can be read as ‘text-only’ – some email systems don’t allow graphics and HTML or give users the option to turn them off.
  • Don’t clog up inboxes with large emails.
  • Avoid attachments, because they can get your email caught in corporate spam filters.
  • If you’re using an third party system to send emails on your behalf, make sure the provider has whitelisting measures in place to ensure emails are not flagged as spam.
  • If you’re using a mailing system that is pretending to come from your corporate email domain (‘spoofing’), tell your network team to ensure your own colleagues can receive your emails.
  • Test on all different types of email – from Outlook and Hotmail, to how it appears on smartphones.


Keep evaluating against the business goals. Innovate, iterate, and enjoy.

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