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Newsletter

  • I am putting together a newsletter that goes out via email. Originally, I was doing the newsletter using Microsoft publisher. However, some of the people that get the newsletter are not seeing it for some reason. I am thinking the reason behind that is that they may have a lower version of outlook.

    Additionally, I want to link the topics to parts of the body. In other words, when a person clicks the topic, it immediately goes to that part in the newsletter.

    Can anyone offer some help on both situations? What can I do for everyone to be able to see the newsletter in Outlook, and how can I do the link from topic to body.

    Thanks.
  • I'm going to speculate here since I haven't done the exact sequence you talk about.

    I'm guessing that the newsletter is sent in one of two ways, as HTML mail or as an embedded document.

    Either of these can be blocked or simply not allowed for Outlook. Also if its an embedded document the recipient needs to have the software to view the embedded document or they will simply see an icon for the document instead.

    The linking should be something that you setup in the creation of the newsletter. If it is HTML you'll use anchors to create internal targets like this:

    This is the start of topic

    To create a link to that you simply use an anchor with an href attribute that points to the named anchor like this:

    Go to topic 1

    This will create a link with the text "Go to topic 1" that will point to the line created with the previous example.

    Jack Ungerleider
    IT Manager Community Involvement Programs
    All comments are my own and do not reflect the opinion of my employer.

  • I would recommend creating the newsletter in HTML or PDF and putting it on your website. Then, just mail a LINK to the newsletter location on the server.

    This makes the email much smaller and also has some hidden advantages such as the ability to edit the newsletter in the case of an error without a million bad copies being out there!

    Tim Claremont
    Systems Administrator
    Rochester, NY

  • Tim:

    Excellent point about the ease of editing. We now post our newsletter on the website and email the link, but in the old days when we were sending out the actual newsletter, I once found a major typo in one of ours, after it had already gone out (and no, I wasn't one of the ones who proofed the final copy).

    Mike Kirros IS Coordinator Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund Midwest Regional Office

  • There can also be another issue, and that's IF you're sending HTML email, what the code is written in matters because of the rendering engine Microsoft has chosen to use in the new version of Outlook, and because some other email programs can't read it.

    The HTML code must be written old style. Most CSS isn't OK (like floats) and instead you need to use table structure or it's illegibly layed out. Also, what CSS you use should be inline (directly in the code tags) not a linked to stylesheet in the header. Lots of email programs strip the headers and footers out - almost always if they're a web based email program.

    And the issues go on.

    You can successfully to HTML email if you follow the "the vagaries" of the various programs, and also, to cover your bases, have a link outside the html that goes to a web page version of your newsletter, as already suggested.
    Susan R Grossman Finishing First (Web Development)
  • This might be a bit advanced for the situation in question, but here it goes.

    Another advantage which may or may not be available to you (depending on your skillset) when emailing the link to your newsletter is the ability to track who is reading (or at least visiting) your link.

    Lets say you have a database of names and email addresses that you mail the link to. By attaching the index number of the database record for that individual (Customer Number, Member Number, whatever) to the link that appears in the email, you can use your weblogs to track who is actually visiting the link.

    An example of the link might be as follows:

    www.yourwebsiteaddresshere.com/newsletter.htm?CN=57


    If you discover from the weblogs that a certain list of people are never visiting the link, (Say... customer number 57 from the example above) then it might be a signal that those people do not need to be on your distribution list for that particular newsletter. You can clean up your list of recipients from time to time because you know from experience that customer 57 never visits the link.

    When you email the actual newsletter to everyone, tracking like this becomes much more difficult.

    Tim Claremont
    Systems Administrator
    Rochester, NY

  • The issue about hosting the newsletter on the web site gave me an idea that I think may give you another option.

    Hosting it on your site would allow you to update it if needed (or retract something) and also provide additional content to your site which would be a big plus to me.

    But rather than posting a link to the newsletter, why not format it to a smaller common size, like 800 px wide, and then use and iframe in the email that you send out? This would keep the email small, yet allow people to read it right in their email program. If there is a problem for them to read it, like being off-line, you can include a message and a link for them.
  • If you used Publisher chances are there is a lot of code that will confuse the heck out of most email readers. Remember, just because it looks like a webpage in your email (outlook, yahoo, gmail, etc) does not mean it is a webpage. Most readers do NOT know HTML, at least not CSS style.

    There is a lowest-common-denominator style you need to pay attention to, no background images, no flash, no web 2.0 stuff, forms don't (generally) submit through an email, and so on. Keep it simple, like 1996 simple. Make sure images are hard linked (http://...com/images/imagename.jpg, not ../../images/imagename.jpg or /images/imagename.jpg")

    If you don't there is a fair chance some, or most of your audience is going to see broken stuff, a mess of code or just plain old bad copy. This hurts you more than the other people seeing it right helps.

    I disagree with the one poster who said just make a PDF or webpage and link to it. Clickthroughs for email campaigns are tiny, tiny tiny. You are already fighting for their time and hoping they even open yur email (common open rates around 30-60% depending on the viewer, organization day and time sent etc). Why make them go to one more step?

    What you should do is write your email that gives them SOME information and lets them link directly to stories on your site, but also offer them an "online" version.

    Lastly, use a service to test. They cost a bit more but are still dirt cheap per person 1 or 2 center each) campaignmonitor.com and mailchimp.com are my recommendations.
    nonprofithelpers.com - free nonprofit website
  • Fighting for a recipient's attention should not be an issue. If they do not care enough about your organization or it's newletter then they are not someone that you are going to compel to click on a link to your web based newsletter. In other words, if they do not care enough to click on a link, then you are not going to "reach" that person anyway.

    If you were sending unsolicited spam, I can see where getting your point across with the least amount of effort required on the part of the recipient might be of paramount importance. But in the case of sending email to a person who has actively expressed interest in your newsletter, the pros of making it available on your website (in your stated case, anyway) are trumping the perceived inconvenience of clicking on a link.

    A well worded email that includes a link to your web based document will capture the attention of the people who geniunely have an interest in your cause. If you have reason to think that they DON'T have such an interest then it is pretty irresponsible to be sending them an email at all.

    Tim Claremont
    Systems Administrator
    Rochester, NY

  • Fighting for a recipient's attention should not be an issue. If they do not care enough about your organization or it's newletter then they are not someone that you are going to compel to click on a link to your web based newsletter. In other words, if they do not care enough to click on a link, then you are not going to "reach" that person anyway.

    There are lots of organizations which I follow "only a little" and would be far, far more likely to keep up with their goings on if it the way they spoke was bold, and in-line with a newsletter, rather than the extra step (or two ) to read the newsletter in a PDF.

    Basic marketing it that you don't give up on people because they didn't buy (in this case donate) within the year, you can always grab them back.

    Frankly, any newsletter as an attachment looks unprofessional to me, I know I am not reading an email that says "to read.... click."

    News letters aren't just to get your hard-core people, they probably already know most of what you will say. Newsletters are to get the sometimes people, who didn't know you were having a walk-a-thon and might be interested, but you have to tell them, bcause they won't go looking for it.

    Making them see almost nothing and then clicking on a link is showing them nothing, they can't grab a headline, they can't get a short gist they just see a link, which they may not click on.

    Images and snappy headlines are super-key to developing an audience that actually looks at your newsletter rather than throws you in the trash.

    I can show some good vs bad examples if anyone wants, but I can also say "hiding" your newsletter in a link is bad, it is almost giving up on anyone reading it except those that were going to participate anyway.
    nonprofithelpers.com - free nonprofit website
  • There is an in between solution that is part newsletter part link. It will also allow more "sophisticated" readers to keep tabs on your newsletter on their own.

    Use RSS to digest the newsletter from your website to the email.

    Mosey: your images would be lost on me. I don't allow images to be displayed by default in my email.

    Granted this is easier if you are using a content management system, but is viable without one. By creating an RSS feed of the newsletter topics you get your snappy headlines, a lead-in and your not wasting bandwidth (yours or mine) with heavy content in the email. In addition make sure that you provide a link to the RSS feed (XML) on the web page. Then your most interested readers can subscribe to the RSS feed using something like Firefox's Live Bookmarks. Also other sites that might be related to yours can take your feed for "side bar" material.

    I receive several updates from groups that are nothing more than a text version of the feed and it works great.

    Jack Ungerleider
    IT Manager Community Involvement Programs
    All comments are my own and do not reflect the opinion of my employer.

  • Mosey, you and I do not disagree as much as you might think. As stated in my post, putting a well-worded email together with links to the actual newsletter can be very effective. The email needs to be simple for technical reasons, and persuasive enough to compel people to get "the whole story" on your website.

    I fully agree that putting nothing more than "Click here for your newsletter" would prove to be highly ineffective, which is why I did not mean to promote that approach. I can now see where my first reponse to this thread may have implied that, however.


    Tim Claremont
    Systems Administrator
    Rochester, NY

  • I'd highly recommend using a service for your enewsletter. There are so many advantages!

    You get tracking results - How many subscribers opened it, did they click on any of the links, etc.

    Automatic subscribes & unsubscribes. This is really important. With the CAN SPAM law, you have to unsubscribe readers who don't want your enewsletter.

    Most services allow subscribers to have a plain text version if they don't want HTML

    It doesn't use "garbage" HTML code, which the Microsoft products love to throw in. This can break your newsletter, so it doesn't display correctly.

    They can minimize the risk of having your enewsletter flagged as spam.

    Idealware.org has a great online seminar & a research paper on these services. Some give a free account to nonprofits. I recommend checking it out.

    Jon Frank
    Training Manager
    NPower Seattle

  • Mosey: your images would be lost on me. I don't allow images to be displayed by default in my email.

    I am sure you know this, but you are in the vast minority with this. Almost every email campaign I send out, usually between 15 and 20k emails, only about a handful are "text only" readers, or view the text part of the multi part. The days of PINE are over :wink;

    That said, with any decent service, you get to select a multi-part email so you can have a text version. They are so super simple to do once you have the regular version (along with the other benefits of a service).

    And since this came up last night, I was using Patron Mail last night and bleeech.
    nonprofithelpers.com - free nonprofit website
  • I have my work email forward to my Blackberry when I am out of the office. I have the graphics turned off on my BB by choice.

    With the proliferation of mobile devices over recent years, I would suspect that a fair number of mobile's have graphics turned off. Not sure what kind of market share we are talking about.

    Perhaps it might be a variable that could be anticipated based on your subject matter, though. I send a fair number of emails to people that I know to be frail senior citizens. I am reasonably sure they are not running Blackberry devices! In the not-too-distant future this might not be such a sure bet!

    Tim Claremont
    Systems Administrator
    Rochester, NY