Posted: Mon 13th Feb 2012
Having a good template ready to go makes it a whole lot easier to get your newsletter out every week or month as all you have to do is drop in your text and images. So it's important to put together a template that works for you and has all the elements you need to get your message out to your list. Services like MailChimp offer a whole range of templates or you can build one from scratch. Regardless of which route you choose here is a handy checklist when building your template:
Do you want a single column, a main column with a sidebar, a three column layout or a mix of all three? Its easy to feel overwhelmed with the choice on offer so remember if you are just starting out, keep it simple: a single column with a header and footer is a great place to start. Once you've chosen your template you'll be prompted to work your way through the following sections: Headers: There are some great mini headers right at the top of your newsletter you should make the most of. The one in the top left hand corner will often display in the preview line of some mail clients like Outlook so use this for a short teaser or summary of your newsletter to entice readers to open for more. TheÂ second smaller header on the right gives readers the option to open your newsletter in a browser so they can see it in its full glory in case they choose to view emails as text only. Below these will be your main header for your logo and branding. Social Media buttons: Most templates include these as standard now, so make the most of these - including links to your profiles. Image/Text boxes: These are for your images and contents- so look back at last week's tips on how to make the most of your content by thinking about your layout and writing engaging headlines. Footers: Most newsletters have a few different footer areas which you can use effectively to engage with your reader. See this area as another opportunity for social sharing where you can repeat links to your social media profiles. There is also an important area for your contact details - filling this out properly gives you credibility and it's a legal requirement to include your business name and registered address. Finally, right at the end is the option for your reader to unsubscribe or update their preferences. MailChimp rightly insists you include this option in all your templates so as to comply with spamming regulations. Don't forget to counterbalance the unsubscribe button by inviting readers to 'Forward to a Friend'. You will also see the MailChimp badge appear in this area if you are using the free version of MailChimp- you can't delete this but you do have the choice of badge so you can pick one that best matches the rest of your style. Style editor: Your template is a great way to reinforce your brand so use the style editor to introduce your corporate colours to the background and borders to match the rest of your online identity like your website and social media pages.
Happy with your work? Remember to save and try the 'Pop-Up Preview' to see what your finished newsletter will look like and go back to the above and tinker. With your template ready, each campaign should just be a question of choosing a title and dropping in text and images. Before you send to your list, however, make sure you edit the 'plain text' version of your newsletter. I tend to tidy this right up into something readable by taking out links so that you are left with a block of text. Finally send a few test messages and look at these in different browsers and mail clients. Ask a friend to do a final check for typos, schedule your newsletter for sending and take a deep breath! Photo credit: Jeremy Keith