The more you give, the more email you get. I receive a variety of communications from charities and non-profits and sometimes I get them at the same time. The other day I happened to get 2 newsletters both from equally worthy causes but one was clearly more appealing than the other.
As the former web goddess who advised clients on formats and approaches to optimize email, I found that of all aspects you could analyze, it was the style and tone of the content that drew me to one newsletter over the other.
The winner was New Circles, a small community based charity, who issued a PDF newsletter, emailed via reception on behalf of the Executive Director.
- The email itself was simple yet gracious in tone, opening with “Please enjoy our Spring Newsletter” and closing with “With thanks and Enjoy!”
- It contained a list of the features in the attached PDF presented as “Articles to note” and then the extra finesse of listing them in a conversational style like “An article to celebrate New Circles’ fifth anniversary; A Holiday Angel report; and A big thank you to anyone who has made a financial or clothing donation since the last newsletter.” Not your typical copy & paste of the titles.
- They also get points for full contact info on the executive director at the bottom of the email which itself was all in a plain text format.
The PDF, although not my favourite format, certainly works for these folks.
- A simple layout, basic black text on white with one colour to highlight, 6 pages in total.
- Snippets at the top of stories, giving a summary, key stats in a call-out box, a variety of authors and perspectives, and a few big, clear pictures.
- Back page holding key acknowledgements (“since the fall newsletter”), a list of clothing donations that they need and a standard ask for donations.
Now all this might sound pretty typical but there’s something about the style of writing, the stories told and the presentation that just makes you want to read it. It’s written for an external audience not just the insiders. It explains the background so you didn’t have to be there to know what or who or why. And all this in a plain language that somehow exudes warmth.
Here’s a link to the PDF new circles SpringNewsletter2010 Mar18 and I challenge the many other causes that send me email to produce something as gracious, informative and audience-centric as this.