Tip Two – Publishing a Winning Newsletter: Formatting
Learning the ins and outs of doing an email newsletter takes time. When I first started publishing email newsletters, I made many mistakes. I want to save you some time and headaches. Last week I covered email services in Tip One-Publishing a Winning Newsletter: Email Services . This week I will talk about newsletter formatting. I hope you find this information helpful.
HTML or plain text? There are many thoughts on this topic. Some believe that sending plain text email newsletters is the best practice and others believe HTML is the way to go. There are pros and cons to both, the most important being that the plain text newsletter will look the same in all email accounts, the HTML emails will not. Although, HTML newsletters are nicer to look at than plain text newsletter, and presentation is important, what you see is not what you get. When you design your HTML newsletter, and it looks perfect, understand that it will not look that way for everyone. Just like browsers, email accounts change up formatting and your pretty newsletter can be missing color, spacing, images, links and look nothing like your original design. On the other side, plain text is ugly. Not pretty at all. So what do you do?
There is a solution for both. First understand that it may not be up to you anyway. There are many email services that allow the subscriber to choose how they want to view the newsletter. So, if you choose to do an HTML newsletter, the subscriber can choose to view it in text instead. However, whether you do a plain text email newsletter or a full blown HTML one, you can give your subscribers an option to either view the full HTML version on your website (provide the url) or provide them with a link to download the pdf. In this way if there are any issues in their email account that is not allowing them to view it correctly, there is an option for them to see it in all its glory on your website.
Once you decide on the format of your newsletter, the next step is creating the newsletter. If you are doing plain text, emails you will not need any special programs. However, if you choose to do HTML newsletters than you either need to know how to write in HTML or have an HTML editor like dreamweaver or frontpage. HTML editors or WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors are the best way to go if you do not know how to write in HTML. These programs allow you to write your email as if you are typing in a word processing program and then provides the HTML code to copy and paste into your email program. Another option is creating the newsletter in a program like Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign and publishing it as a pdf. Some email programs allow attachments, so you can either attach the newsletter or upload it to your website and give out the url in the newsletter.
The bottom line is that whichever way you choose to do your newsletter, plain text or HTML, make sure your content is solid, and everyone can access it.
Next week I will be writing about how to handle links and images in your email newsletter.