| Branding, Design Basics

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We are all complaining about our full e-mail boxes, yet we continue to send tons of e-mail, receive tons of e-mail and sign-up for more e-newsletters. You’re hungry for good information and so are your clients and potential clients. E-newsletters are a powerful marketing tool, and using high-quality design can help your e-mail stand out in an overflowing inbox.

Subject lines and copy are critical, and I suggest you spend some time learning about how to write catchy and succinct text. Some good sources are here, and here.

5 design tips

Most of us try to sort through our e-mail efficiently and therefore, quickly. If your e-newsletter is a struggle to read, it’s probably going to be headed for the trash bin. Here are 5 tips for better designed e-newsletters.

  1. Some examples of custom-branded e-newsletters designed by Visible Logic.Above the fold, create a masthead. Many of us, as we review our inboxes, get just a quick glance at the top-most part of an e-mail as we decide whether to read it or not. So design of that area is most critical. Work on your layout so that area holds key branding or content elements.
  2. Branding. Your e-newsletter should be custom-branded with your logo, your color scheme, your imagery, your tagline, etc. It should look familiar and safe and hopefully even enticing to your viewers. The newsletter should have a cohesive look and feel with your web site. It does not need to be an exact replica, but key elements should match from web to e-mail. I know, there are lots of low cost e-newsletter services that provide “templates” but they can’t be refined more than choosing key colors and placing your logo. If you’re relying on an e-mail marketing campaign to build brand awareness, you need to start with your unique brand identity.
  3. Make it scannable. Try using a table of contents type of area that acts as clickable headlines for key stories. This also works to put key content near the top.
  4. Make it a quick read. Ensure stories are easy to read by having shorter sentences and more paragraph breaks. If you have long articles, have only the start or an excerpt and have the remaining text online; readers can click to read the full article. If you put a long article near the top of your newsletter, many people will not scroll down far enough to see other content.
  5. Limit fonts and styles. The basics of good design apply to your e-newsletter, just like any other project. Keep font choices and changes to a minimum. Set up a rhythm for the reader to follow, where all similar content has similar design to it.

At Visible Logic we design e-newsletters, then our clients insert and edit the content and send them out on their own. We design a custom-branded template that has all the branding and navigational elements in place, and defaults for the layout and type. But many people get carried away changing typefaces, font colors and styles. Many people think they are adding excitement and interest, but nine times out of ten it’s just making it more confusing and less readable.

Special Offer!

Are you ready to start your own e-mail marketing campaign? Let Visible Logic setup a high-quality, custom-branded e-newsletter for you. Until December 31, 2009, we’re offering a special rate of $400 for all custom-branded templates. Compare that to $599, charged by Constant Contact, to move you from one of their stock templates to a custom-branded solution. Here are the details.

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