Web and email addresses pose a special challenge for writers and publishers of email newsletters and ezines.
I don"t know about you, but I find it frustrating when I have to copy and paste an address into a browser, or into a separate email window. Especially when I know how easy it is for the writer or publisher to put in "live" links that allow readers to reach a destination or to create a new email message.
I also object to links that get contaminated by punctuation marks. I"m referring to web and email addresses immediately preceded or followed by a punctuation mark. They mean I have to copy and paste the link, then eliminate the offending punctuation mark before I can go on.
Let"s deal with that latter issue first: If you plan to include Web addresses and email addresses, use chevron marks, which you may also refer to as the less than "" symbols. By putting them around the addresses, you keep them distinct and easy to copy. It also reduces the likelihood you will add a punctuation mark right after the address, and make it non-clickable.
Turning to the other issue, it"s also easy to make your addresses immediately clickable. Do this by fully writing out URLs of Web pages and by putting "mailto:" before email addresses. For example, rather than writing www.managersguide.com, I would write http://www.managersguide.com. (note how I left a space between the address and the punctuation marks).
Turning to email addresses, put the word "mailto" plus a colon before the address. For example, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org rather than simply email@example.com . When a reader clicks on an address with a mailto: before it, a new message will automatically pop up in their email program, with your address already in the TO field. That also has the advantage of reducing errors in transcribing or copying and pasting.
Also, be wary of URLs that split at the end of a line. While the URL may not split in your email program, it may do so in the subscriber"s. I usually try to set up so URLs fall at the end of a paragraph, and then put in a return before them, so they are on a line by themselves.
Finally, after you"ve emailed a test copy of your newsletter to yourself, test the links on the copy that arrived at your IN box. Click each link to ensure your readers can get to your page or to their email program with just one click. No copying, no pasting, no transcribing - just one click.
In summary, by taking these few simple steps, you can make your newsletter more readable. And if it"s more readable, it"s more likely to get the response you want.
Robert F. Abbott, the author of A Manager"s Guide to Newsletters: Communicating for Results, writes and publishes Abbott"s Communication Letter. Read more articles about Internet communication, as well as email and printed newsletters at: http://www.communication-newsletter.com/ic.html
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