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Tip of the Week: E-newsletter Etiquette

Thursday, May 01, 2008

  • Organization: Pro Bono Net

E-newsletters and regular mailings from the advocate mailings tool are a great way to keep your members engaged, drive traffic to your site and highlight recent site updates. Here are some general tips to help make sure your newsletters are welcomed guests in your users' inboxes.

1) Tell the user they are receiving this mailing because they are a member of your site and give them the option to unsubscribe or edit their member profile.

2) Include the date (month is fine) of the newsletter in the subject and title. Use the same style for periodic mailings so users recognize it and do not mark it as spam.

3) Use all-caps words sparingly (titles in text emails are generally expected) and don't use multiple punctuation marks for effect (!!!). It's better to use common styles, such as headers, underlines, bold and bulleted lists to create hierarchy and flow. This makes your email easier to read and also helps avoid being labeled as spam.

4) If you are composing HTML mail in an external editor to paste into the FCKeditor source pane, do not use Microsoft Word. Standards-compliant editors include Dreamweaver and the free, open-source editor NVU.

TIP: If you are using FCKeditor, click the blue display icon left of the Source button to go fullscreen. Click it again to return the editor to normal size.

For a great example of mailing best practices in action, check out the monthly ReentryNet/NY resource updates mailing

HTML Mailing - Create a text version

If you are sending an HTML mailing, try to include a plain text version as well. Some email clients default to only reading plain text and will display the text version instead.

HTML Mailing - Create an online version

If your HTML mailing isn't easily converted to plain text, consider offering an online version as an alternative and link to it at the beginning of your mailing for email clients that block some HTML content. After you have created your HTML mailing:

  • Copy/Paste your HTML from the FCKeditor Source pane into an HTML Library resources or a News post body.
  • Create a shortlink to the online version using the Link Abbreviation tool in your Admin Inbox
    TIP: You can also link directly the Print Friendly version for a cleaner look. Use the Print Friendly link or append ?print to end of the URL.

  • Include the shortlink in your Text mailing part, as well as at the beginning of your HTML mailing part.

Check out the NYC Pro Bono Center April 2008 Newsletter online version in the News tool. Also, the print friendly version

Check out this folder for more examples of e-newsletters:
Advocate Site Marketing and Outreach > Sample E-Newsletters

Lastly, don't forget to use the Send to Myself button to test your mailing! This is especially important when composing HTML emails so you can preview them in a real email client. HTML email is more art than science and some email programs might display them slightly different. If possible, forward your tests to email accounts in other systems, such as Gmail or Hotmail, to see how they appear.

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