Last time, I talked about one of the first steps involved in setting up your email newsletter: Getting an Email Newsletter Service. Another commonly-asked question is how to design the newsletter to make it the most effective. This breaks down into several questions and considerations:

Should you send a text only newsletter or design it in HTML? Both options have benefits and issues. I’ve discussed this in my blog here: Should your newsletter be pretty?

I recommend that most small business use an HTML newsletter because it’s much more effective to use graphics to extend your brand. Also graphics are more memorable and can help you to communicate your business’s message in a way that’s, well, worth the proverbial 1000 words.

Some of the ways to make this already-effective tool even more effective include:

  • Use a customized design and not a template. One of the main jobs of a newsletter is to extend your business’s brand. If you use a template the design will not be related to your company’s brand definition or brand identity. This mismatch will make your business look inconsistent and less professional.

Make sure that your customized design includes not only your logo but also elements of your Visual Vocabulary. This will further distinguish your newsletter from your competitions.

If you do have to use a template for a short time while you work the cost of a customized design into your budget, use the simplest template available on your service — even a blank page with your logo on it will work as a temporary measure!

  • Use branding as bookends for your newsletter. Designing every square inch of your newsletter is overkill. You don’t need to include graphics and illustration through the whole thing to get the benefit of using graphics. Designing each element of the newsletter will also make it more difficult to use your newsletter as a template. If you design in an article space that’s a few paragraphs long and then write an article that’s bigger than the allowed space you’re going to have to spend time customizing your newsletter design to fit in the longer article. Or what if you decide to change the sections in your newsletter around. Or you decide to promote different things or include different types of information and your newsletter design has very specific structured areas.

Instead, you can design a header and footer to “bookend” the content of your newsletter. You can then code the rest in plain HTML. This will create a branded newsletter that looks great and is flexible enough for you to use as needed each time you send it out.

 

  • Don’t make your newsletter code complicated. Most email programs can only read the simplest of HTML code. So design your newsletter with this in mind and code the newsletter using very basic HTML. This means you should use a table format, regular font tags, bold and italic tags, and image tags. CSS and more complicated kinds of code won’t display properly for all of your readers.

 

  • Use photos and promotional illustrations to add visual interest. An all-text newsletter can look very boring — even if you have a branded header and footer. But you can use image tags to insert images throughout your newsletter to spice things up.

 

  • Use highlight boxes to call attention to offers and promotions. You can use a colored background on a text box to differentiate important copy from the rest of your text. This can make those calls to action and promotional boxes more noticeable. Once a reader notices them they’re more likely to read them and react!

 

Taking these tips into account will help you to create a HTML newsletter that represents your brand well. It will also look memorable and help you to stay in touch with your prospects and clients – and sell your products and services.