Content Publishers and B-to-B: If the purpose of your e-newsletter is to provide features, articles and value-added content, the most critical design feature is the table of contents (TOC). It allows the reader to quickly scan for items of interest. A good TOC allows the reader to click on a headline and go directly to the article in the newsletter.
Many publishers use a standard listing format, but you also can use other structures to the same end. Your TOC might highlight a “feature,” a “top stories of interest” and “more” with either a headline or graphic treatment. These style elements should be customized to best reflect your content. This magazine, for example, uses a similar approach for its TM Tipline e-newsletter. The TOC listing has several articles organized into the following categories: “Target Tips to Test,” “Target News,” “Target Practice” and “Target Calendar.”
Publishers who accept ad banners have integrated placement into their overall design. The ads provide a natural break between sections of the newsletter. These banners also can add to overall format appeal, since they often contain images.
The two-column format can be used effectively to make it easier to read articles, because the width is not full-screen. A narrow first column can:
• provide links to sections of your site;
• highlight specific events or other content;
• include a poll or survey;
• promote subscriptions to other
• e-newsletters you may offer; and
• present ads.
To borrow from a well-known cliché, a picture is worth a thousand words, so don’t overlook the opportunity to include graphics in a text-heavy e-newsletter. These could be images that illustrate or support the main point of the article, content separators, and/or boxes highlighting tips, events or offers.
Take a look at your current design. Is it time for a makeover? If you do decide to re-evaluate your presentation, share the new version with people outside your company who aren’t familiar with your products or services. This is the acid test to make sure your e-mails are easy to read and use.