Showing posts from August, 2012

9 Ways to Personalize Your Newsletter

We tell our new clients that the newsletters we design for them will be completely unique. Part of being unique is making a personal connection with your reader. Here’s our best advice about how to make your newsletter more personal and distinct.

1. Write a personal introductory note. Share news and give teasers for the content to follow. Inject your personality. Your writing may be more informal here.

2. Insert your signature as a graphic. Sign a blank piece of white paper and scan it - first name only. Use a pen or marker that matches your branding.

3. Use a good photo of yourself. You want this photo to look like you now, not 5 years ago. Dress as you would when you meet contacts in person. Incorporate your brand colours into your clothing if possible. Keep in mind that the direction you are facing in your photo will determine where it goes in your newsletter, you don’t want to be facing off screen.

4. Use your own photos. Instead of common, often overused, internet photos, create you…

Why NOT Buy Mailing Lists?

There are many reasons why it's not a good idea to buy mailing lists. In fact, it's quite clearly a bad idea. Aside from being a potential nuisance, somewhat unethical, and risking having your bulk email account shut down, there is another downside you may not even consider...

If you were to open each of these emails, you'd see that they are addressed to different names In fact, I apparently have 17 employees I don't know about. None of these were actually addressed to me. So how did they all end up in my inbox? I have a catch-all set up so that if someone spells linda wrong, I'll still get the email. If you don't have a catch-all, you probably wouldn't even know it was happening to you.

This has been a bother to me now for well over a year. The first time it happened, I phoned the company that sent the emails and was told they bought their list from

I suggested they get their money back. That's the big…

3 C's and the Strategy Solution

The 3 C's of enewsletter execution are contacts, consistency and content. All three can cause issues, some of which can stop you in your tracks. The good news is that all of them can be managed with a well-planned strategy.

Vet your initial contact list and then work to grow it with subscribers within your target market, friends, family and fans. A high bounce rate, unsubscribe rate, or complaint rate on your first send will be a red flag to your bulk email service provider and may cause them to lock your account. Do not start your contact list with every email you have collected since the dawn of the computer! Subscribers outside your target market are costing you money and bringing you little value. Identify your target market and fill your contact list with subscribers within that market. Don't forget your fans!

Consistency is important to your subscribers. Over time, they will come to expect certain types of content on an established schedule. Your sign up form should also a…

eNewsletter Design and Formatting Mistakes

Mistakes stand out and they can be fodder for others’ discussions. Aside from obvious spelling, grammatical and hyperlink errors, formatting and design can also be a big turn-off.

You can have awesome content that delivers value to your readers – but it’s no good if they don’t read. First impressions count! Your design does not need to be WOW! but it does need to meet at least a minimum standard. Keep in mind that expectations will vary. For example, if you are a designer of any kind, your newsletter design should be top notch. If your message is supposed to be a quick read, then it better be easy to navigate.

Here are some of the characteristics that immediately turn me off when I open a newsletter:

Lack of white space:
The worst case is when text is jammed up against borders and graphics.

Too many colours: This distracts your reader rather than drawing attention to your content.

Too many fonts:I know, there are so many to choose from! But several different fonts, of varying sizesand c…

How I Emptied My Inbox!

This is what an empty inbox looks like! It's the first time I've seen mine like this in at least a couple of years, maybe longer. It looks kind of strange, doesn't it? Even a little hard to get used to. What a boost of self-gratification I got from accomplishing this (been patting myself on the back ever since). So much so that I'm now determined and motivated to keep it this way.

Does this mean that I have nothing to do? That all my action items are completed? Not by a long shot - but now they're not staring me in the face all the time distracting me.
My inbox will no longer be used as an ineffective to-do list.
Now I realize this is a bit of psychological manipulation - it's all about my state of mind. But I've learned that my state of mind is about the most important consideration to accomplishing anything.
What brought about this most awesome accomplishment? A handy little online app called Follow Up Then. It is by far the most useful app I've found…

Content Creation (Wrap-up)

If you are looking for writing ideas, how to manage your content, or just a bit of inspiration, you've found the right post. Here is a library of links to all of our articles about content creation (up to May 2012).

You may not think of testimonials as part of your content strategy, but they certainly are. Ask anyone who's had to rush to gather a bunch in a hurry to put on a new website. Requesting a Testimonial gives you suggestions about how to manage that.

What to Write About has lots of general tips and suggestions to help you get started plus some info specific to enewsletters.

Don't Forget Your Fans gives you ways to get your 3 F’s - friends, family and fans - to help extend the reach of your messages.

If you're wondering about newsletter content strategies, How Much is Too Much? gives you some ideas to answer that question for yourself.

If one of your goals is to build your reputation, then Content that Builds Trust is an essential read.

Being an expert means tha…

Awesome Inspiration!

I always recommend having an idea catcher. Somewhere that you record all of your content ideas as they come up. Finding an idea that inspires you can sometimes be the hardest part of getting started when sitting down to write. But ideas can be found in any situation. They can be:
Problems you solve Something new you have learned Questions you get asked Concerns in your market Trends and news Real experiences and examples Your opinions Once you have the idea, you need to start writing. The suggestion that I give to clients, friends and anyone else who will listen is this: introduce and explain an idea and then give practical advice about how to implement it. Of course that’s fairly simplistic but not a bad place to start.

My reason for this suggestion came from my previous Insights training about different personalities. Some people have a preference for ideas and the big picture. Other people prefer detail and the practical application of concepts. If you write as I’ve suggested abov…

Graphic Solutions

Copyright and graphics are topics that come up in our business all the time. When you are using images on your website, blog or in your newsletter, you need to ensure they are copyright free or you have paid the copyright owner for use. You should not search Google images and take any image that pops up. Google searches for all images and does not filter out any by copyright status.

There are several free sites for images and several more that are reasonably priced under $10. I recommend that you take some time to search for images that are not overused on the internet. You will come to recognize those that are most popular.

Some of the places you can find free images are:
Morguefile - a lot of free images, some very artsy, some not great quality but lots of quality there for those who are willing to browse Microsoft Office clipart - images that come up in that search are copyright free Unprofound - created and run by designers, this site has the very cool feature of searching for ima…

Introducing Your Very First Issue

Update - Find a newer version of this topic here: How to Write the Introduction to Your First Newsletter.

When writing the introduction for your first newsletter issue, here are some things you might want to include:
Acknowledge that this is your first issue and that you appreciate your readers' attention.Tell readers what they'll be getting and how often - think about value/benefits to your readers.Tell readers that it's easy to unsubscribe via the footer in every email.Ask for feedback and suggestions.Ask readers to share with colleagues and friends.
Here are some examples of first issues - perhaps you'll find some inspiration:…