Tips on Writing Client E-mail Newsletters

Once you have begun to gather e-mail addresses (opt in) from your clients, prospects and other interested parties, you need to reach out to them on a regular basis. One of the best ways is to prepare a monthly newsletter that will make them pleased that they are part of your firm and client base.

Here are some helpful tips on getting your e-mail newsletter opened, read and acted on:

THE SUBJECT LINE

Do you ever go through your email in-box and delete messages without even opening and reading them? Most of us do. There is just too much e-mail and too little time. That is why it is critical for your e-mail firm's newsletter to have a subject line that makes people want to read more.

Use good judgment when creating your subject line; don’t use misleading enticing words to lure your members in. For example, don't use a subject line reading something like "Our January Newsletter." Instead, use a subject line that engages your reader's attention with an interesting topic or headline from the newsletter, such as "XYZ - Venture Capitalists Explain How to Get Funded" or "New Tax Legislation Act Law of the Land." Build your brand awareness with these newsletters. Your clients will look forward to your firm's name appearing in their email inbox monthly.

HTML OR TEXT

If your audience/clients are primarily opening your newsletter at the office or during office hours, then you may want to go with HTML. Otherwise stick to text for the time being. If you decide to go 100% for HTML, you will need to create a text-only version for clients that may prefer text, and for people who's e-mail systems cannot accept HTML.

LENGTH AND REGULARITY

General rule of thumb: the more frequent your newsletter is, the shorter it should be. People will happily open a short "Joke of the Day" or their daily horoscope; but almost no one wants to get something longer than that every single day!

So, keep dailies to a page or less and weeklies to five-seven pages or less. Biweeklies and monthlies can be longer — only if you have truly interesting information to impart. Never go longer just for the sake of length.

MAKE IT EASY FOR YOUR CLIENTS TO READ

When you are preparing a newsletter, set your word processing program so you are writing in the same format that it will appear in on recipient's screens. For text-based newsletters that means 10 point Courier type going 60 characters (five inches) across.

Unless your newsletter is unusually long, your readers will probably try to read it on their computer screens. Your job is to make this as easy as possible for them.

Another way to assist in making your newswire appealing is to add a table of contents at the top. On-screen readers don't want to work hard to find pieces of information that are valuable to them inside your newsletter. Tell them up-front what will be in it so they can scroll quickly and easily to the section of their choice. In fact, usability studies show that most people won't look beyond the first screen of information if there is not something immediately interesting to them. Give them a reason to scroll down!

Always add an issue number to your newsletters. This will help your clients find pertinent information after the fact. It is also a good reference tool for the firm as well.

TONE AND ATTITUDE

Don’t be afraid to make your newsletter's tone personal and casual. People crave a little humanity behind the professional corporate mask. They respond much better to newsletters that are written by one particular individual at a company who they can get to know over time.

Readers like little personal comments that could only come from a single human being. Break away from the so-called "corporate-speak" a bit, and use a more casual approach. Be professional at all costs, but don't be afraid to be human.

Book Recommendation

Poor Richard's Guide to Email Publishing

The book advises readers to make top-quality content their first priority, build brand names, and provide excellent customer service. Perhaps most important, the book explains the difference between spam and legitimate mass mailings: subscribers have absolute control over legitimate mailings, and their information is never used behind their backs. In addition to the advice of newsletter publishers, the book provides appendices listing mailing-list software, list service providers, and e-publications worth a look.

Topics covered: Why e-mail newsletters work, how to build mutually supporting Web sites and newsletters, configuring mass-mailing software, managing subscriptions, creating and collecting content, plain text and HTML formatting, list service providers, and advertising.

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