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 sizes and colours will break concentrated reading. One or two is enough. Don’t use larger sizes, bold, italic and colour willy-nilly, make sure there is a purpose behind your use of these elements.
Poor alignment: This includes things like using indented bullets in very narrow columns, trying to align text into columns by using your spacebar, inconsistent spacing between sections. Basically, if you wouldn’t do it in Word, don’t do it in your newsletter.
Unsuitable layout: This would be things like not building in proper sections for items like contact info and testimonials, jamming a whole bunch of words into very narrow columns, lengthy text in side-by-side columns, or worse, lengthy side-by-side columns with unequal length of text, leaving long blank spaces in the body of the newsletter. This is one of those things that is obvious when it’s not right but more difficult to give specific advice about.
Lack of identification: Your newsletter should encompass your branding and be easily identifiable as coming from you.
An attractive newsletter only gets you past the first step. If your newsletter content does not bring value to your readers, it won’t matter how great your newsletter looks.