Secrets of Successful Ezines
Minicourse Part #4
Text, PDF or HTML?
There are really three essential keys to a successful ezine: content, formatting and marketing results.
This part of the minicourse on ezines is all about the formatting of your ezine, and as they say in Hollywood, looking good is everything.
When it comes to professional ezines, however, the most important component is the content. Without good meat, people will unsubscribe, or at best delete your messages and never forward them on to friends and colleagues. Your subscribership will not grow.
Even with good content, however, many people will not read your messages if they are poorly formatted, difficult to read, too much print and not enough white space, or look long and tedious.
HTML messages are those where the email message has color, bolded fonts to highlight subheadings, and graphic images such as logos, photos and clip art. They are easier to read and can look very attractive. You need a professional to design a template for you, unless you know HTML coding or have special software and can do it yourself. You can also use standard templates offered by many of the email distribution companies.
Getting HTML properly formatted can be tricky. Some people with older computers will not be able to read them. Your HTML ezine can show up as garbled code in some of your readers’ inboxes.
There are ways to avoid these problems. Yet because they are one more hurdle in getting your readers to read messages, some professionals choose not to send out their ezines in HTML.
Even text email messages have to be formatted properly. If you type it directly from your email software, for example Outlook, you cannot know how it will show up in your recipients’ inboxes, especially if they use different email software or have Mac computers.
Text email messages have to be in what is called plain text, i.e., no bolding, italics, bulleted lists. It should be created in a Notepad program rather than the usual Word Doc. It should only have about 55-65 characters per line, and this has to be either entered visually or formatted automatically by using a free service such as www.formatit.com.
When using plain text, use extra line spaces and short paragraphs. This makes it easier to read on line.
Break up your messages with subheadings. Since these can’t be bolded, use lines to set them apart, like this:
Or, use any other key to make a line:
PDF’s are read-only files. They offer many creative possibilities for newsletters and ezines. You have to have Adobe Acrobat software to create them, and readers have to be able to read the files using the free reader software available online. Most people have Adobe Reader, but to be safe you can offer the link to download it for free.
The disadvantage to PDF’s are they have to be sent as an attachment and some email distribution system don’t allow attachments. You can go around this problem by sending out a brief synopsis of your ezine with a link to read the full article or ezine where it is posted on your web site. This also drives traffic to your site. This extra step may cause some readers to put it off and never read it.
This is why the title of your ezine and subject line is so important. If it is catchy and interesting people will click to read it even when pressed for time. Using their first name and a question is often effective. Many distribution systems allow you to put the subscriber’s first name into the subject line.
Need help on formatting? You are in luck! Email Elge Premeau, the ezine ‘texpert’, at firstname.lastname@example.org.