University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Our monthly parents newsletter is usually 3+ pages of copy so when it's translated into email and viewed on a mobile device it scrolls forever.  Has anyone developed any solutions to this dilemma or is it not really a problem?

I've tried to limit the copy but am told it's necessary.

I've contemplated setting up a blog and linking out to individual items but I'm personally frustrated when I have to go back and forth between my email and browser on a mobile device.

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We've gone for simple, monthly, linking to the full article but include a short description so folks can choose what to read.  Perhaps a balance of what is included in full and what should really be a link to a page with more information?

http://alums.vassar.edu/publications/newsletter/

I encourage departments to post announcements/stories on their sites, then gather together the highlights together for a newsletter -- with links to the articles online, similar to how we do the alums newsletter.  A few really like having the newsletter packed with all the content, others link to a PDF.  It's a mixed bag.

I think it comes down to goals -- I like bringing folks into the site where they'll see more information than what we include in the newsletter.  And it's a bonus when we can learn about what interests folks when we check out analytics.

I agree with Megg. Short snippets/summaries that link to the full story.

I've struggled with the whole concept of a newsletter though. Do people really anticipate and read them anymore? Seems so old school. Unless people opt in and can choose what they want to hear about to make it personalized, it just seems like content that clogs inboxes. The only newsletters I've seen with decent open/click rates had lists that were opt in and very targeted.

We actually have a 45% open rate for the parents list which is opt-out.  It's the only communications about current happenings pushed to parents.  The parents website is kept very static and generic because it gets forgotten like most webpages (until we're alerted to a problem).

So you don't mind clicking back and forth between mobile email and browser client 12+ times (potentially)?  Each "story" is generally no more than 10-12 lines of info from various student affairs departments whereas the Vassar newsletter goes to vastly longer news stories.

No, I wouldn't like to bounce back and forth between mail and browser, but I would be very surprised if your readers were reading everything in either situation. If the full text is in the email, they're probably just scanning for what grabs their attention. Same thing if you have links to stories, there's probably only a few things that will interest them. At least that's what I tend to see in the 8 or so newsletters I help departments manage. But by linking to stories you'll give them a short, scannable email and have more data over time on what interests them.

You could try a few A/B tests with a new format and see how it performs.

I'd love to try A/B, unfortunately convincing the writer to produce 2 copies and getting a blog setup to host the material is considered a larger endeavor than it should be given the audience.

If only there were a means of hiding some lines within the email and providing a show more link as we can do in a normal browser with CSS.

Maybe you can do that for iOS and other mobile webkit clients (a majority of people seem to be reading email on phones these days), and then clunky old desktop clients (Outlook) would ignore it and show the full text. I've been able to do some mobile formatting by using media queries that are read by webkit devices and ignored by desktop clients.

I was hoping Mailchimp would offer those options but so far no luck.

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