Creating a Better E-newsletter

The lessons learned by the editors of the HP shopping newsletter can be translated into ideas to make your newsletter have more impact. After extensive testing in which individuals who read the newsletter were observed and interviewed, it was discovered that one of the the key areas for the newsletters' success was found to be in navigation and layout.

Usability tests showed that a main navigation bar is critical. The newsletter contained a navigation bar at the top with links to the main areas of their web site. Even if recipients weren't interested in a specific offer, they still utilized the navigation bar to browse other categories. By tracking the clicks with an embedded code, HP found that 25 percent of the clicks in a newsletter were on the navigation bar.

If you include a search area in your campaign, you might want to rethink. HP shopping tested this in their studies and found it to be rarely used. The navigation bar was used more than 10 to 1 than the search area.

Newsletter graphics and overall layout can be designed to improve readability and response. Many recipients use an e-mail client with a preview pane, so catching their eyes immediately is critical. The top graphic must grab a reader's attention.

The size of the graphics were also found to be important. The company ended up increasing the size of their graphics and reducing the amount of copy. Simple graphics were also used to draw attention to certain features, like product pricing in boldfaced type.

As a result of changing the design of the newsletter, the revenue it generates increased by a factor of five, year over year; and the database is over 70 percent larger than it was a year ago. Unsubscribe rates have fallen, and CTRs have increased an additional 15 percent.

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