E-Newsletter Best Practices

Make the most of your mass email or e-newsletter by following best practices.

Know Your Purpose

What do you want to achieve with your newsletter? Are you seeking donations, volunteers, or shares? If you are providing education or information, what do you expect the audience to do with that knowledge? Align your content to a clear purpose and include calls to action to engage readers and track results.

Identify Your Audience

Keep target audiences as specific as possible, and write to their interests. Provide content that the audience will find useful. About 90 percent of the content should provide entertainment, education/resources, special offers, etc., leaving about 10 percent for promotion of your organization.

Use Email Marketing Software

Follow the CAN-SPAM Act by offering opt-out and unsubscribe options and honoring those. Design your email or e-newsletters for optimal viewing, especially on mobile devices. Customize content by including your recipient's name (at the least). Do not use a BCC to send a PDF attachment to a group. This will result in your message being marked as spam by your recipients' email providers. Pacific uses NetCommunity as its email marketing software for all emails to alumni and donors and strongly recommends it for internal audiences as well. Contact Marketing & Communications to plan your email or e-newsletter campaign.

Entice Open Rates

Keep subject lines to 50 characters or less for mobile viewing, and craft active subject lines that promise something special to recipients. Be sure to customize the preview text on your email.

And Also Click-Through Rates 

Placing a video (or video screen shot with active link) in your email can more than double click-through rates (2013 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study, Silverpop). Use easily clickable buttons for active links so that readers can tap with a finger. Include calls to action that lead back to your website and align to your purpose.

Make Email Easy to Read 

In 2014, 66 percent of email was read on mobile devices, and that number has likely increased (U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report, Movable Ink). Emails must display well on mobile technology. This means ample white space, short text, finger-friendly buttons, etc. Limit the number of fonts and colors. Use pictures to break up long blocks of text. Pacific's email and e-newsletter templates are designed to these requirements. 

Or Scan

Choose engaging messages for headlines, and keep text short and easy to skim. Choose only your best content, and limit to 1-5 items. The average time readers spend on a newsletter is 51 seconds, and 35 percent of the time, they only glance at content (Nielsen Normal Group). 

Write Once, Share Lots 

Use the e-newsletter to entice readers to engage more deeply with your organization. Content in your e-newsletter should link to more complete info on your website.

Encourage Action

Provide clear calls to action for readers that align to the purpose of your e-newsletter. Include social media buttons to build a following and encouraging sharing. 

Track Results

A/B test subject lines to help guide future success. Monitor open rates and click-through rates for specific stories. Use what you learn about what appeals to readers to keep improving your e-newsletter. Marketing & Communications can provide analytics on your specific campaigns to track your metrics.