Share

Newsletters: Process and Best Practices

Newsletters can be a great tool to keep customers engaged and up-to-date; but what's the right way to craft and send them?

Extension Newsletters

Newsletters are used by many as a marketing tool to keep their customers abreast of exciting research, events, and products.  Since our customers may receive multiple newsletters, along with other product, alert, event, or promotional emails, it's important to make sure we remain relevant to them without bombarding their inbox with Penn State Extension messages.  To ensure this doesn't happen, and to create the best experience for them, we have outlined the newsletter process and some best practices to follow when building statewide, team-focused newsletters. 

Frequency

It is recommended that newsletters be sent once a month for those who opt-in to receive them.  This allows the communication and marketing team to appropriately stagger the sends for closely related or overlapping audiences. Customers who may be on more than one list will not be bombarded with newsletters.  It also allows for easier planning of deployment, adequate content creation, and quality control. We will evaluate the need for more frequent sends, based on content availability and timeliness.

Content

All newsletter content should promote Penn State Extension, and link to our website. The key to a successful newsletter is to provide a consistently branded and highly engaging news experience for existing customers while promoting news, services, and educational opportunities (i.e. Extension providing solutions, partnerships, products to address needs in the community). In addition, they could include limited content for cross-promotion and up-selling based on strategic marketing needs.  

Process

The Extension program teams will work with their Product Strategy Specialists to ensure the content they wish to feature in each newsletter is in line with strategic priorities.  For example, a product featured in the newsletter may also have an individual email, direct mail, and/or social media post; or a newsletter may cross-promote a related product from another team.  The timing of the various marketing pieces should be coordinated by the product strategy specialist and marketing specialists for maximum response.

The newsletter template includes the following, and modifications will be considered based on need (image represents example only).

  1. Spotlight product - leads the newsletter
  2. 2-6 Article highlights
  3. Cross-promotional item or 2nd spotlight
  4. 1-3 high profile statewide events – if any
  5. Social connect – if applicable

 

 null

The team is then responsible for submitting content for the newsletter to the marketing strategy specialists, where it will be added to the template and edited. It will also be reviewed to ensure the content meets the overall marketing strategy.  

Current submissions should be sent to .  

Once created by the communications and marketing team, the submitter will be sent a test for review.  Upon approval, the email will be scheduled for launch to the appropriate audience.

Process Overview: 

  • Team marketing lead submits content to Marketing and Communications via email (a form is coming).
  • Marketing and Communications builds the newsletter, submits for review, and sends a test email to the team marketing lead. 
  • The newsletter is reviewed by the assigned Marketing and Communications reviewer(s) and the team marketing lead, both of whom then submit feedback.
  • The email is returned for edits or approved by assigned approver.
  • Audience is pulled and email is scheduled for send by Marketing and Communications.

Recap

To recap what has been outlined, Newsletters should:

  • Be sent once a month, at the same time each month.  Not every newsletter will go out on the first of the month.
  • Have enough existing content or resources to create new content to keep the newsletter going.
  • Be statewide – newsletters will not be limited by region.  All content should be valuable to a statewide audience to be consistent with Penn State Extension's programming model.
  • Be designed with the following criteria:
    • Simple - 90/10 educational vs promotional
    • Mobile friendly
    • Not attachments – no .pdf files will be sent
    • Preapproved templates meeting branding requirements
    • Link to content on the web
    • Should include a content mix
  • Use existing popular or new content, specials, or limited promotions 
  • Be easily shareable and useful to the full audience
  • Be concise, the point is to get them to the website
  • Have strong calls-to-action to get someone to click through
  • Have strong subject lines, under 60 char 
  • Feature products that coincide with product launches, promotions, and other product marketing. 
  • Have a well-defined, targeted audience  

To discuss your newsletter needs in more detail, please contact .