Writing a newsletter? You need these message and design tips

Years ago, Matthew Bregman asked a colleague to write three paragraphs for a newsletter on a company  recycling project. The employee spent days holed up in a conference room, and a week later produced four or five pages on the subject. The organization ran the story in the company newsletter, but he doubts anyone read the article besides the two of them.

The techniques of effective email marketing also apply to newsletter marketing.
Photo courtesy of http://www.websolpro.com

These days, consumers usually find corporate newsletters they subscribe to in their email inboxes, skim over the shapes, colors and content, and delete the email. Editors and writers put much thought and detail into creating a successful newsletter that catches and maintains a reader’s attention, but the first and foremost step in creating a successful newsletter is conducting an audience analysis and keeping the reader’s goals and interests in mind. Strategy is key in keeping consumers updated about organizational affairs. The following points are crucial in producing a newsletter that will be opened and read:

  • Produce real news suited to the audience’s interests
  • Use aesthetically pleasing layout that follows design rules
  • Measure, measure, measure performance

Communicate the message, not the art

While appealing layout is the first step to catching attention, it is not the end goal of the newsletter, write Bowles and Borden (275.) The most important step in creating effective newsletters is having news to communicate. Don’t spam your audience with sales or deals or self-promotion, because if you’ve destroyed your credibility, your readers will go elsewhere.

Don’t waste your audience’s time – efficiently give them the information they want to see, otherwise they won’t keep reading. Don’t write five pages on a story when it can be condensed into one page, because readers have little time. Determine what the audience wants to see in the newsletter, and cater the message to their preferences. The audiences may differ: some may interested in cutting-edge technology, while some may be stakeholders in a corporation, but all receive the newsletter because they want to stay in the loop. For a newsletter intended for younger people, use sans-serif fonts because they are more casual and easier to read on screen, which is where that crowd will likely be finding their newsletter. For an older crowd or a print newsletter, serif fonts will be easier to read and are more suitable for that audience.

Re: Can I have your attention?

Once the newsletter’s message is devised for the audience, marketing and branding tips are essential to catching initial attention. The video below explains the importance of a catchy subject line in an e-newsletter. Include a nugget of news in the subject to attract interest and show readers that your newsletter contains real content.


When producing an e-newsletter, Media Buzz recommends not exceeding 90 kilobytes. Spam filters generally claim emails with attachments exceeding 100 kilobytes, and attachments with too much data are slower to download and may deter readers from clicking the link or following through on reading.

Additionally, all four design principles should be applied to newsletter layout, whether print or electronic (266):

  • Balance: The design doesn’t have to be symmetrical, but include white space and color
  • Proportion: The ratio between elements on a page should be 3:5
  • Contrast: Have a focal point, with smaller elements that don’t detract from the central image or text
  • Unity: Carry the same design themes throughout all pages

This newsletter adheres to all four design principles.
Photo courtesy of http://www.downthelinedesign.co.uk

Does it measure up?

Determining metrics for readership is the last step in creating a strategic newsletter. Software such as GroupMail Email Newsletter Software measure open rates for emails and can play a large role in creating effective future newsletters. Click-Through rates measure the amount of clicks on a link divided by how many times the impression is shown, and provide an effective metric for measuring newsletter readership. For an email newsletter, a Click-Through Rate of 10 to 20 percent is considered successful.

The number of unsubscribe requests per month also allow insight into the most successful and most boring newsletters. Editors should use these metrics to determine effective strategy, messages and layout for future newsletters to gain the highest readership possible among identified key audiences.


GPS devices track humans, turn big profits

Your talking GPS is not just for the car any more.

While many people may have Global Positioning Systems (GPS) devices to help them find a destination, they may not know the crucial and sensitive role GPS technology plays in industries such as fishing and aviation. GPS is changing the face of media and technology, and altering how humans interact with and manipulate their environment.

GPS technology, used in many industries, relies on
satellites that transmit data to devices on Earth.
Photo courtesy of http://www.gpsmagazine.com

GPS is a network of satellites in space that provides location and time information to any place on earth that allows unobstructed access to four or more GPS satellites. While GPS technology originated for military applications, it is now used by many civilian industries for tracking and mapping purposes. Although it is used primarily by businesses to ultimately increase profits, GPS has raised controversial issues in recent years.

Debate over GPS devices used to track people

In September 2012, Fox reported that Nestle used GPS tracking devices in six candy bars as part of sweepstakes. The devices were designed to alert a control tower of the winners’ locations, and company officials would then board a helicopter to award the lucky winners 10,000 pounds, or $16,145.

Police also use GPS ankle bracelets to track people, mainly criminals on parole, and for people issued a restraining order. One woman told ABC‘s Good Morning America that when police gave her abusive husband a GPS bracelet after he violated his restraining order, it was the first time she felt safe in years.

Many prisoners on parole are assigned unremovable tracking devices.
Photo courtesy of Florida Department of Corrections

Applications of GPS in aviation and agriculture

While GPS use can be controversial, it is also widely accepted to turn profits in many industries, the aviation industry being one of them. Not only does GPS help navigate a flight path from take-off to landing and reduce previously common accidents by warning of unusual terrain, it also saves time and fuel. Before, fewer aircraft could fly over data-sparse areas such as oceans, but with GPS, other aircraft can be tracked easily and thus allow more cargo to frequent quieter airways.
GPS technology in commercial aircraft prevents accidents
and saves time.
Photo courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration
Fishermen utilize GPS to accurately locate fish beds and dense aquatic populations underwater. Using Humminbird Sonar, they save time and increase profits by knowing which fish are located where. The Humminbird also offers weather-watch, and indicates where buoys, birds and other boats are located.
GPS helps the agriculture industry in mapping field boundaries, roads, and problem areas in crops. For example, it allows farmers to map pest and weed infestation, and for small aircraft to spray chemicals where needed. GPS also helps farmers annually navigate to specific field areas to collect soil samples or monitor crop conditions.

GPS satellites contain wildfires, save lives

Perhaps most importantly, GPS has played a critical role in emergency relief after natural disasters. For nearly every disaster, GPS has offered a method of prediction, prevention and occasionally rescue. Search and rescue teams used GPS, GIS and remote sensing technology after Hurricane Katrina hit to track victims, draw maps for aid operations and assess damage.
To manage forest fires, officials use GPS with infrared scanners to identify hot spots and transmit that data to a portable computer at the firefighters’ camp. This information affords the firefighters a better chance of saving areas that may otherwise have been destroyed.
GPS helps firefighters assess vulnerable areas and hotspots.
Photo courtesy of http://www.gpsmagazine.com
Recently, GPS has helped predict and identify hotspots in earthquake-prone areas such as the Pacific Rim. Scientists study the strain which the GPS signal transmits, and this information allows them to predict future seismic activity and warn residents at risk.
Meteorologists also use GPS technology to predict and assess floods and storms by analyzing atmospheric water vapor. They can then warn areas of impending storms if transmission signals prove an ominous forecast.

Tracking devices for personal items in future

GPS will likely continue to play a large role in our future, and not just as a tracking device on our iPhones. GPS in commercial industries helps target specific areas that need attention, thereby saving money and time. Emergency response units continue to save lives with the technology, tracking victims and assessing damage and vital aid locations.
In the future, we may be able to put minuscule tracking devices on any item we own, or cheaply analyze the best soils and treatment areas for our backyard vegetable gardens. That day isn’t here yet, but with evolving technology revolving around us, it shouldn’t be too far away.