Bronto’s quick tips for successful email newsletter design

 [Publisher’s note: The Philanthropy Journal does not necessarily endorse the opinions, products or services offered or cited in this paid advertorial.]

By Joe Colopy

Ever find yourself trudging through a poorly executed email newsletter, and realize that you quit paying attention five sentences ago?

Newsletter fatigue happens to the best of us—even when a newsletter is well-written.

Formatting is the key.

Here are some basic design tips to keep in mind.

Designing for an email is not the same as designing for the web or print.

* Preview Pane:  While today’s monitors are larger, not every email user maximizes windows.

We suggest you keep preview panes perched at the forefront of your design considerations.

Restrict your “above-the-fold” messaging to the bare essentials — company logo and home page link; a brand-enhancing visual; the primary call-to-action and link; an engaging, interesting headline.

* White Space: White space – literally, the white space around text boxes, objects, borders, etc. — is a key to keeping your email newsletter legible.

Don’t fill up every nook and cranny of your newsletter; leaving white space allows the eye to naturally locate “insertion points” or the next place to start reading.

* Simplicity:  We suggest that you avoid columns and instead use simpler, top-to-bottom layouts.

Use columns, side boxes, or other formatting sparingly, and only to help direct reader attention to important information.

* Clear, concise writing:  For the concise email newsletter format, you want to avoid sentences that go on and on …think “short and sweet”, but avoid clichés.

* Testing:  Before sending out your newsletter, send a handful of test messages to big time email servers like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo.

Be sure to set up some free testing accounts with these ISPs.

In addition, print out your newsletter to see if it is still legible.

This is especially important if you’re sending out RSVP, driving directions or coupons.

* Images: Include only relevant images.

Use small image files to lower download time.

In the same vein, make sure to offer a plain-text alternative to contacts that do not accept HTML messages.

* Links:  One of the most useful facets of email newsletters is the ability to track what people are reading via links.

To track links, you have to include them first, and here’s how:

— Teaser: There’s no need to provide all of the content within the newsletter, offer a teaser as a reason to click through to your website.

— Pictures: All pictures should be linked, even if it just goes to your home page.

— Relevance: Make sure you provide only content-sensitive links and drive traffic to your website.

For additional information, you may view a recent web cast in one of the formats below:

Flash (may need to fast forward to start)


Bronto Software Inc. provides email marketing software to marketing departments and agencies across North America and Europe.  Customers use Bronto’s web-based software to manage all their email marketing activities online –including  organizing and segmenting email contact lists, creating and sending email newsletters and surveys, and analyzing marketing results in real-time reports.

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