Archive for April, 2011

Is a newsletter a kind of social media?

April 26th, 2011

Depends on how you define each of them–but it’s definitely true that your newsletter can’t be out there, in hard copy, with no link at all to your Twitter and Facebook pages. If your newsletter is on line, it’s easy to include links to your website and your other social media pages. Even if it’s just a simple, black and white newsprint issue of 4-8 pages, though, be sure to include any connections to the internet. “Follow Us on Twitter” and “Visit Us on Facebook” are easy to slip in somewhere, such as the bottom of the page where you already include your other contact information.

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Newsletter guidelines: building loyalty vs. the competition

April 22nd, 2011

One more item from the Neilsen and Norman report on email newsletters:  The number of new or unread [email] messages is now 300% higher than it was just four years ago.”

Heavy competition! How can you say the magic words to encourage readers to open your newsletter? “Informative and enticing subject lines,” say N&N. I would add, absolute consistency, not only in timing but in style: graphics, layout, theme. Make sure your reader knows you are to be relied on. Justify their loyalty.

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More on why newsletters work so well

April 19th, 2011

Here’s more from Neilsen and Norman on newsletters–can’t resist sharing these research results. And this one is perhaps my favorite:

“The most significant finding from our usability research on email newsletters is that users have emotional reactions to them. This is in strong contrast to research on website usability, where users are usually much more oriented toward functionality. Even a website that users visit daily seems to feel like a tool: users want to get in and get out as quickly as possible rather than “connect” with the site.”

Here’s the heart of your newsletter writing, right here: Newsletters provide an emotional reaction, and, therefore, connection. Surely this is as true of hard copy newsletters as of email? How better to build a bond with readers than with the stories and links of a newsletter?

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Why writing a newsletter still matters

April 15th, 2011

As always, Neilsen and Norman provide outstanding, and entirely sensible, information about online communications, in this case, newsletters. I urge you to read the whole thing if you are a newsletter writer or editor, or even if you are just thinking about starting a newsletter.

Wondering, for example, if you even need a newsletter? (See last blog entry.) Here’s what N&N have to say: “Email newsletters are a better way to stay in touch with customers than updates posted on social networks like Facebook or Twitter.”  Here’s why, they say:

  • A newsletter goes into the inbox and sits there, whereas social networks use a stream-based interface metaphor, where new postings constantly replace old ones.
  • As we found when testing social networks, people turn to these services primarily to keep in touch with friends and family, and corporate content is often mismatched with this mindset.
  • Newsletters are under your control design-wise and hold much more information.

I’m always grateful for the work N&N do and what I can learn. Tell me what you think!

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