As the choppy waters of social media become increasingly difficult to navigate (for those users not dipping out altogether over privacy concerns) artists and bands are falling back on the time-tested standby of the email newsletter. Even in this case, however, making the email visually interesting is essential to prevent hitting of the unsubscribe button.
Guest post by Hugh McIntyre of the TuneCore Blog
[Editors Note: This article was written by Hugh McIntyre. Read the first installment in this two-part series here.]
Many people have all but given up entirely on email newsletters, and that’s a mistake for many reasons. They are still read by millions of people, and they can be a fantastic way to reach out to every kind of fan and let them know everything that’s going on in your career, from upcoming tour dates to new releases to simply what you’ve been up to.
One of the best ways to stay in people’s inboxes and to keep them from clicking that unsubscribe button is to make your email as visually appealing as possible.
If your newsletter is just a plain white background and black text with nothing else, you’re in some serious trouble. There are many services that will help you put together an awesome newsletter, and while you’re messing around with some of them (a quick Google search will present you with tons of options), keep these tips in mind if you want your message to be easy on the eye.
1. Color Rules
This is the most obvious way to make your email newsletter more interesting, and if you’re not already using color…what are you doing? Utilizing color in your messages is fun, but you should give it a bit of thought before you throw some shades together and hit send. What colors mix well? How many do you want to be using (hint: it’s probably fewer than you think)? Where in the email should they be featured?
Do some research about newsletter best practices and play around with color schemes before you mail anything. Stay away from too much colored text, unless in special instances, and don’t start thinking that just because something is colorful it will capture people’s attention and they’ll click or read on. Too much of a good thing might actually do the opposite.
Maybe I should have listed this item first, because what says “visually appealing” more than an actual picture? Adding images helps break up the text, illustrates better than any words can, and they can make the entire message much more enjoyable to scroll through. These images can be of anything, and you should think outside the box here.
Posting pics of you and your band, both staged and live, are great, but what else can you use? Maybe something from the studio, or behind the scenes at a video shoot? Adding in content people can’t get anywhere else is a great way to keep people sign up—and you should make sure they know they’ll be seeing things nobody else will if they keep receiving your messages. It might not convince everyone to hand over their email addresses, but every little added benefit helps!
While photos do certainly make for a better newsletter, don’t think all you need to do is throw a bunch of pics into an email and send it out. Email was still made for words, and you’ll want to intelligently employ both in a way that keeps people scrolling down the page and which conveys the info you need to get across.
3. White Space
I can’t believe I have to include this, but I have seen so many artists go another, less visually-appealing route, I feel the need to call this out. In an email filled with text, links, and photos, choosing a white background is best.
I can understand the temptation to pick a color or go with black in order to stand out, but take a look at examples online of those who have tried this before, and you’ll see that for the most part, it just doesn’t work.
There are ways to include some lightly tinted backgrounds here and there, and if you think long and hard about the design choices you’re making, colorful backings can be a fun way to separate different sections of your newsletter…but I warn you, be careful. I personally am immediately turned off when I see color combinations that don’t work, especially when one of them is taking up most of the page I’m looking at.
Many of the same rules that apply to creating and designing a web page people want to look at work for emails as well, so before you send something particularly jarring and ugly into people’s inboxes, think twice and maybe read some blogs about what shades are the best.
4. Use Images As Links
One of the biggest reasons you’ll be composing and mailing a newsletter at all is because you want people to click out of the email you spent so much time putting together to consume something of yours. That something could be a new song or video, or perhaps you want them to purchase a new t-shirt you’ve released or buy tickets to an upcoming show. You’ll likely push all of these things, and you’ll want them to click a link to find their way to another page.
Instead of simply turning a piece of text into a link, why not ask people to click on an image?
If you have a new music video, take a screenshot and include that.
More merch coming into your store? Don’t just tell people, show them!
People will spend more time looking at an interesting, bright, colorful image, and chances are they’ll be more likely to click it as well. You can also hyperlink some text, but don’t make that your only option!
5. Create A Header
A quick look at almost any worthwhile email newsletter (or website, for that matter) will immediately show you that a header is necessary. They can pull the whole project together, add a splash of color (and satisfy the want to color in the background), and they immediately set the reader up to know what they are getting into.
This is a marketing message, and while that may turn some people off, it’s best to be upfront about what you’re sending. Don’t trick people into scrolling through your entire email, just make it visually appealing and ensure that the content is worthwhile and you’ll see some fair results.
Many people don’t think of a header because they don’t exist in most emails. You don’t include them when replying to messages or when sending missives to friends, family, or colleagues, but newsletters are different, and you’ll be wise to include one.