How a world-class university stays on top of the curve with email campaigns.
About their newsletter.
As senior web editor at the University of Chicago, Laurie Davis sends weekly newsletters to a mix of faculty, staff, students, the Board of Trustees and other subscribers. Sounds like a pretty broad audience and lots of information to deliver, right? With smart formatting and careful analysis, Davis and her team handle the challenge with style.
"The newsletter helps us highlight innovative research at the university," says Davis, "showcase students and faculty who are doing fascinating things in the world, draw attention to prominent media stories that mention scholars, announce new appointments and highlight upcoming campus events."
With an audience of around 30,000 subscribers, keeping track of recipient behavior — and a mailing's success — wouldn't be possible without the ability to review who's received, opened, clicked or shared the newsletter. Davis continues, "We like the ability to review such a robust amount of data that Emma provides in the response section of the interface. The response metrics allow us to evaluate our content by seeing which stories our readers are choosing to click on."
Take their July 29th newsletter, for example. Of all clicks, more than one-third were on their top news story, "Sunil Kumar named dean of Chicago Booth School of Business." That's a pretty startling bit of data, and it shows how effective placement of a timely story can give you just the kind of response you were hoping for from your audience. (That's lots of clicks, of course.)
Why we like it.
It includes a 3-5 main stories that are summarized and followed by "full story" links, so curious readers can click to read more. This allows for overall brevity in the campaign itself and enables Davis' team to track reader interest, shaping upcoming stories and their placement in future newsletters.
In short: Heed your readers' busy lives and crowded inboxes. A typical reader probably won't weed through paragraphs and paragraphs of text to find the content that grabs them. Make that content easy to find and quick to digest. Your readers with a short attention span will absorb the summaries, while readers with more time to peruse will click to read the complete story.
Visually, UChicago News' format is consistent. A custom layout provides sections for Top Stories, Events, News Coverage and Announcements. Newsletter sections are in maroon text, with story titles in blue and story text in gray.
In short: Make consistent, intentional style choices. Choose font types and colors with an eye for readability (bonus points for you if these choices match the look of your website or brand). A well-formatted campaign draws attention away from the formatting and spotlights your content. And isn't that the point, after all?
The send-off, at a glance.
- Sent on July 29, 2010 to 29,319 people
- Open rate: 33%
- 26 shares, 33 trackable visits
- Subject line: Kumar Named Chicago Booth Dean / UChicago News / July 29, 2010
- Created using a custom layout