Why I Don't Send HTML Newsletters
You've got to wonder about marketers who send those horrible emails where everything is in 8-point type all jammed on the left side of the page and completely unreadable. I own a one-trick-pony software app called SmartWrap that is designed to strip out all the > characters and bad line breaks in multi-quoted e-mail--but it's also very useful for converting those scrunchy e-mails into something my 49-year-old eyes can handle. If only it supported the page-down key, I'd be all set.
As for my own newsletter prep: I do three monthly newsletters, all in plain text, none of them with pix. I could probably increase deliverability by posting the whole thing on a web page (we do archive them later, but only the main articles) and sending an email with a URL pointer--but I think the higher deliverability would be countered by the lower readership, especially as two of my newsletters target the frugality market and therefore can be expected to have higher-than-usual percentages on dialup.
When I was on dialup, pretty much the only outfit that got me to click to the web was MarketingSherpa.com; now that I'm on broadband, I'm considerably more willing.
However...as a recipient, I loathe HTML, find that in 98% of newsletters with graphics, the graphics are unnecessary--I keep them turned off, so for the most part, I don't even see the "pretty" pictures--and 3/4 of the time I do turn them on for a particular newsletter, I wonder why they bothered.
As for PDF as an attachment versus a webpage, I'd let it be the reader's choice. But I do remember that PDF downloads on the web were very annoying when I was on dialup--attachments were better, but only if they weren't too huge. If a lot of readers are on dialup, it's probably better to format a page in HTML and send a link. Or just post on a blog!
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Shel Horowitz is the award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books, and the creator of the Business Ethics Pledge to make crooked business as unthinkable in the future as slavery is today.