Testing your Newsletter – Technical and Content Tests
An internet newsletter is the equivalent of a brochure or an offline informative newsletter – it needs to capture attention, deliver high quality information and content and convince readers that your company is worth remembering.
With Internet newsletters, however, there is an additional issue. Unlike a printed brochure, which everyone sees the same, Internet newsletters are displayed on different browsers and screen resolutions. This may affect the way the newsletter looks or the way the layout is seen on different computers. Another test you should do with your newsletter concerns the way the message arrives at your target audience. Let’s have a look at both test types that you should do before you submit your newsletter to your subscribers.
There are many browsers that interpret web pages slightly differently. Many websites that look great on Netscape are displayed all wrong on Internet Explorer, and viceversa. This calls for your attention as you cannot afford to release the newsletter and have it display poorly on certain web browsers. Before sending it out try to proof it in several browsers and on different computers with different resolutions. This may be a hard thing to do if you don’t have a larger office with several computers, but you can always ask a few friends to check it out and let you know if it looks ok on their screens. However, a basic test you can do even on one computer is to download different browsers and try them with your newsletter. You might also want to change the screen resolution from your current one to lower and higher ones as part of the test. The standard computer operates in SVGA true color, but you should also see other configurations.
Testing the way the message reaches your audience
This is mostly a test that resembles a focus group or a survey. Send the newsletter to a few people and ask them about it once they have read it. Did your message go through without any obstacles? Did they find the graphic layout attractive? What did they think about the photos you used in your newsletter? How did they respond to the call to action at the end of the newsletter? Were they tempted to find out more by visiting your website? Once you get answers to these questions you can easily see whether your newsletter is working properly. The message is essential and there is no point in going through all the trouble to publish the Internet newsletter unless you get the readers to visit your website and to trust your company.
Putting it all together
All of the things mentioned above sound like a lot of stuff to do for a simple newsletter. However, keep in mind that once you get the pattern right and once the first issue of the newsletter starts having success you will never have to repeat 90% of that work. It might still be a good idea to test your Internet newsletter in different browsers if you have made changes to the graphic design or layout. It would also be advisable to have at least one more person read each issue of the newsletter before sending it out, to see if you might have passed some errors.
Testing your newsletter is essential. Both the technical details of the newsletter and the expected response from the readers have to be tested thoroughly in order to ensure its success.
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