The Dangers of Creating Your Own Practice Newsletter
More and more professional practices are leveraging newsletters to build their practices, whether they are marketing directly to clients or patients or to referring professionals. While there are a myriad of benefits to practice-building newsletters, there are pitfalls in designing, developing and delivering a newsletter yourself. Here are some of the most common dangers.
1. Using unapproved images
Images and photographs are important. They draw the eye, break up copy so it is easy for readers to digest, and make the newsletter more approachable. The best images cause readers to pay attention. Your newsletter can incorporate your own photographs, such as pictures of your staff or your office, but beware of some common pitfalls. It is easy to download images from the Internet, but you must have permission to use them. There are a wealth of image libraries, such as iStock, from which you can download pictures at affordable prices. Don’t simply grab photos you find on the Internet and drop them into your newsletter.
Just as importantly, secure permission in writing from any patients or clients before using their pictures in your marketing materials. You don’t want someone to open a newsletter and be surprised to see themselves in a photo. For dentists and health care specialists, this can be a violation of HIPAA laws and might be quite serious.
2. Not keeping your e-mail lists current
If you use an eNewsletter, you will need to keep your subscriber lists current. This includes managing unsubscribes and ensuring that you don’t have too many outdated e-mail addresses in your database. Failure to stay on top of these lists can cause you to be penalized by e-mail servers—and even have your e-mails marked as spam. If you use tools such as Constant Contact to distribute your e-mails, you can be banned from their system if there is a perception of dubious practices on your part.
3. Using the wrong fonts
Choosing the right font is an art and a science. But you don’t need a degree in graphic arts to make sure your newsletter is easily read. Avoid the temptation to use too many different fonts and colors. This distracts readers and looks messy. Remember: A Unified Design Builds Your Brand.
Fonts are grouped into two main classifications: serif and sans (without) serif. The more traditional serif fonts typically have short lines along the top and bottom of the long parts of some letters; sans serif letters do not. For online and e-mail content, use sans serif fonts. They are easier to read than serif fonts. The easiest to read are fonts such as Arial, Helvetica and Verdana. In addition, be sure the font size isn’t too small. Type should be at least 12 points for body copy and larger for headlines.
4. Making organization an afterthought
It’s a hard truth that the organization and design of your newsletter is as important as your content—maybe even more important. If your newsletter is poorly designed, your readers won’t be able to enjoy its content. Your patients or clients will scan e-mails and decide quickly if a message or article is meaningful to them. To help them decide to stick around, you must make sure your content is well laid out.
By breaking the copy up with subheads, bullets and numbered lists, you make it easier for readers to digest your content. Use short sentences that let people know why a newsletter article is important to them and what action you would like them to take.
This is just an overview of some of the mistakes you can make when creating your own practice-building newsletter. Contact us to avoid these and other pitfalls, and you will be in the best position for success. The task doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
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