How to write an e-newsletter

 An Important Note

LWA has specific requirements about using email newsletters in ways that are accessible, privacy compliant, and do not create Spam. It is important that you discuss any e-newsletter component with the LWA eBusiness team BEFORE you commence planning your communication. The eBusiness team is available at webadmin@lwa.gov.au, or by calling Land & Water Australia on 02 6263 6000.

 An electronic newsletter, or e-newsletter, can be an effective way of communicating what your project is doing and keeping your stakeholders informed. You can also use it as a marketing tool, providing useful information to the reader while indirectly promoting your services. The content you select and how you structure it is crucial to the e-newsletter’s success.

7 Tips for a great e-newsletter

7 top tips for a great e-newsletter

  1. Put in the time and energy to avoid an irregular e-newsletter that stops after a few issues.
  2. Keep the content concise, relevant and timely with one theme for each edition.
  3. Include information that your readers will value and pass on to others. Avoid offending anyone by publishing controversial topics or views.
  4. Write for the reader - not for you or your organisation.
  5. Develop a unique voice with a friendly, informal tone. Use humour - people like to have fun.
  6. Allow articles to be reproduced, as long as your organisation is acknowledged as the source.
  7. Keep an ideas file - so you don’t run out.

Make it easy to read

If you don’t, they won’t bother. Usability guru Jakob Nielsen shows that 51 seconds is all we usually spend scanning an e-newsletter. Most people won’t read past the first 3 items on your list, so make them the important ones!

  • Include the edition and/or volume number in the email - some readers may want to file them away and reference them later.
  • Avoid a lengthy intro - most people won’t read it.
  • Limit your colours and watch for bad contrast. Bright colours like yellow don’t show up well on a white background.
  • Avoid flashy, distracting graphics. Not only do they increase the size of the file you are sending, they don’t always work on all computers.
  • Use lots of white space to draw the eye to the text.
  • Use numbered or bulleted lists.
  • Keep your articles short - provide a link to your website for those who want to read more.
  • Keep your sentences and paragraphs shorter than you would in a written document.
  • Keep ideas simple and clear.
  • Use plain language and check your grammar and spelling.
  • Keep the entire length to no more than a few screens (or about 15cm).
  • Include a table of contents at the top of the e-newsletter so readers can decide what to read. Create hyperlinks on the entries in the table of contents to the articles for quick navigation, but don’t let this take away from your main items.
  • Give articles meaningful names.

Subscribing and unsubscribing — give them the option

Receiving and reading your e-newsletter is purely optional. Make your reader feel like they are in control. LWA requires the following:

  • Make it easy to subscribe and unsubscribe. Frustrated subscribers are not likely to return. There must be a simple Unsubscribe link.
  • Offer the newsletter in html and text.
  • The email must clearly state the sending organisation and why it was sent.
  • Ask for feedback. Provide a contact email address at the bottom of the e-newsletter.

Be reliable

The professional image of your organisation depends on it.

  • Choose a simple style and stick to it.
  • Be consistent with your frequency. If it is a weekly publication, make sure you send it once a week and on the same day of the week.

Content ideas

  • Choose a friendly voice.
  • Titbits like quotes, links to interesting websites, and jokes can make the e-newsletter fun, but are also more likely to get forwarded to friends and colleagues.
  • Provide tips and short how-to articles.
  • Interview someone your audience would be interested in.
  • Include a short book review.
  • Include articles from the audience or other contributors, keeping in mind that the content must be relevant to the reader.
  • Recycle and refresh an old article, or provide an update. Some topics are timeless and worth the reminder.

Distributing your e-newsletter

Land & Water uses Campaign Monitor to manage its mailing lists, subscriber and mailing functions, and can make this facility available to you. Other services are also available, including Mailchimp, Mailbuild and vision6. The LWA eBusiness team can provide you with more information about distribution.

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