I’ve seen quite a few resources floating around the web lately with do’s and don’ts for schools when it comes to sending e-newsletters, and many points are well taken. However, there are several suggestions that I completely disagree with, tips that might not serve you well in trying to get your message across. Let’s check out some of these.
MYTH: There’s no limit to space in digital, so jam pack your eNews!
It’s true that there’s no limit to space in digital, but there is a limit to your reader’s attention span. The chances of them digesting 20 articles, 15 event notices, 10 photo albums, a quiz or poll, and letters from heads of schools, directors, or principals is quite low. If you’re finding that there’s not enough time to send out all the important information, you may want to consider the frequency of your email newsletter. Perhaps moving from bi-weekly to weekly is the best solution, rather than trying to jam as much in as possible.
Assess whether everything is truly newsletter-worthy, too. If you’ve got a particularly heavy week and there’s a “nice to know” submission, you may want to hold it a week or give it some love on another outlet, like social media. Not everything needs to be in the newsletter. If it doesn’t appeal to at least an entire grade level, it might not need to be included.
It’s also important to figure out how much of each notice should be seen in the email. You can cover more information in less space by summarizing the “need to know” aspects of your events, articles, notices, etc., and then linking off for the full version. Content should be easy to skim (again, short attention spans) and easily get across the vitals of your announcement, without adding in extra details.
MYTH: Always put the most important article at the top
While at times, the most important article at the top makes sense, how do you determine what’s most important? What’s important to the school versus what’s important to the reader is something to consider. It’s also important to consider what makes your newsletter easy to read. If your email is full of event information, going in a chronological order may make more sense.
MYTH: Don’t be afraid of color!
While strategically used color can be a great way to make your newsletter interesting, too many colors can be distracting. Background colors that don’t have enough contrast with your font color can make your text hard to read, and multiple colors within an article can make your reader less likely to digest all the information. Limit the number of colors you use and stay on brand with your palette. Use soft colors, like a dark grey, in your text and a bolder color for headlines. If you choose to use reverse text (dark background and light font) make sure there’s high contrast so it’s easy to read.
MYTH: Add Images to Your Newsletter Articles
If you’re publishing an article on your website, you should ALWAYS have an image attached, the same goes for your social media posts. People are visual and images are a great way to pull them in. However, when it comes to email newsletters, too many images can negatively impact its performance (no one wants to wait a minute for your messages to load), get your message flagged as spam, and make your reader have to scroll even further to get all the information in your newsletter. Tip: Use images sparingly, if at all, and instead link off to full-articles that contain the images. If you must use an image, use a thumbnail, not a full-sized image.
MYTH: Repeat notices in every issue to be heard
While yes, repetition of a message can help you remind your audience of an upcoming event, doing so in every newsletter for weeks or months on end won’t help you. Why? Your readers want a high-quality reading experience, and they will stop tuning into your eNewsletter if they think that the content never changes. Content should be interesting, unique and purposeful. If you need a reminder, skip a week in between notices and change what appears in the email itself to summarize the event/reminder and link to more details.
MYTH: Always include your mission statement and description of the school’s vision, values, diversity statement, etc.
Is the goal of your eNewsletter to inform the user of this information? Chances are, it’s not. Adding unnecessary details into your newsletter will reduce its value and make readers less likely to tune in next time. If this is a crucial aspect of your branding, consider simply adding a link to the web page that contains this information within the footer. It’s always there, and easy to find.
Do you have other tips to share on email marketing or myths to bust? Share them in the comments below!