Lynn Forbes from Scripps cable channel FineLiving just sent over a sample of the first issue of their new email newsletter, "Notes to Self" (link to sample below). Her content strategy (which she says was partially inspired by our Email Newsletter Publishers' Profit Workshop in October) is different from many other media company newsletters in several ways:
1. There's a personal feeling to the newsletter. In fact it's written in the first person throughout. Forbes felt email readers would prefer "I" to "we."
2. It's got a quick, blogging feeling. No long articles. Lots of quick notes.
3. The notes are packed with links that don't even go to the FineLiving site. Instead many are to useful stuff elsewhere on the Web that the editor recommends. This tactic makes the content more compelling (it's not about our site, our site, our site, it's about useful stuff for you-the-reader) which may build Fineliving's brand as a resource more than lots 'o' links back to the Mothership would do. It also gives more credibility to the links that actually do go to FineLiving. You begin to feel they are really useful vs. just promotional.
4. The thinner column is on the left side, instead of the right.
Over the past year I've noticed it's become almost taken for granted among the more sophisticated HTML newsletters that if you have two columns, the skinnier one goes on the right. One of the things we discussed at the Newsletter Workshop was the fact that due to the prevalence of Outlook (46% of email users) it's likely that many right sidebars are not even seen, much less clicked on, because folks read everything in their preview box rather than opening issues for full-view. Forbes' tactic makes sure both columns are visible, if not entirely readable, in preview.
I'd very much like to hear about any test results you may have on this subject. Have you tested sending a slice of your list a left sidebar vs a right sidebar and tracked clicks?? Let me know, email@example.com. Thanks Sample at