Reviewing a newsletter

5th November 2014 | Posted in Editing

I’ve just done a quick and dirty review of a business newsletter for a networking buddy. As I’ve tried to provide constructive criticism in a general sort of way, I thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts with the world. Many of these comments apply to just about any marketing collateral.

1. We always try to remember what we want our newsletter to do. Usually it’s about relationship building so that our customers feel a connection with us and are less likely to move to the competition – or just delete the mail without reading it. And that leads to point 2 ….

2. Benefits! There has to be a reason for people with little time to spare to read the newsletter. So every item in the article needs to give them something. Even if it seems obvious it’s worth spelling it out. The property selling programmes are always telling us “If it’s a third bedroom make it look like a third bedroom. Don’t leave it to the imagination”. For example
a. We’re expanding our networks …. so you have the opportunity to visit more groups, meet more like-minded women and get your message out there.
b. Reminders of how to do stuff like upload to the web are really helpful, and if people know they can find useful tips in a newsletter they’re more likely to read it and keep it.

3. Offers. People will read newsletters if they know they can get something for doing so. A competition can be good.

4. Subject line. If people believe that the newsletter is worth reading, then a subject line saying it’s X October newsletter is fair enough – especially as the date’s on it so people know which ones they’ve read and when they arrived. To go one better, find the story with the most benefits and use that as the subject line to entice people to open the newsletter.

5. Layout. I’ve seen the problem of text banging up against images before and it doesn’t look good. Details like this really can make or break the look of a newsletter. Also it’s quite important to watch for consistency in text layout – in this one we’ve got left-justified text (straight line on the left but ragged on the right), centred text (ragged left and right) and full-out text (straight line left and right). It just really helps project the right image to have a rule for headings and a rule for “body” text.

6. Grammar and punctuation. There are a lot of professional nit-pickers out there and they not only notice errors but are offended by them. The trouble is, everyone reads what they think they’re written. Printing out drafts so they’re in a different format to proofread is good. Finding someone else to proofread, especially if this isn’t your strength, is even better. Exclamation marks are absolutely fine in personal communications but really need to be rationed or even avoided in professional newsletters.

I could also have talked about how newsletters work well with personality, but this one already had that.

Would you like me to crtique your newsletter? Suggest how you could do it better or even write it for you? Just contact me at the email address above on the right.

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