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How to Plan a New Newsletter: Print-out Your Entire Inbox

Author: Hayley Cowburn

Practical Planning

This week we’ve been planning a new newsletter for a client. After thoroughly studying the existing content on their website, we wanted to brainstorm as many ideas as possible for content ideas for their bi-weekly newsletter.

First, we met to list content must-haves, useful areas of their website to link to and social media accounts. Then agreed on a set of rules the newsletter must comply with and how we would measure its performance. We then printed the newsletters each of us receiving in our inboxes and scoured them for new ideas for presenting the content we wanted to include.

Here are just some of the ones we started with (yes, we have an Eve fan in the room) …

 

newsletter planning

 

In doing this, we got staff away from their desks and looking at a couple of newsletters in full, from top to bottom without all the scrolling. Working in a visual way like this really allowed us to get a broad overview of “what everyone else is doing” and what we needed to do to “keep up” and indeed, get ahead by going the extra mile.

It sounds like a lot of time and ink goes into the process (and it does), but the creative content process was much, much quicker. Being able to play around with a physical template and look at other creative newsletters (and competitors) we were able to agree on something great much quicker.

Characteristics of the Best Newsletters

The "best" newsletters (which we define as easy to use, optimised for mobile, good content and modern design) used the following:
- Clearly defined sections with block section design, easy for a user to skip to the part they’re interested in
- Content/opening message written specifically for the recipient, rather than cut and paste from the website
- Clear, modern design with an organisation that does not change issue-to-issue
- Mobile-friendly
- No messy side bar menus or too many links
- Some contained video links to YouTube for the latest video content

 

newsletter content planning

 

We like working on paper for something well thought-out and well planned. We’ll have to keep you updated the next time we decide to try looking at something new differently.