What Should You Name Your E-Newsletter?

That’s the question that the MetroWest Health Foundation asked today on Twitter.


Turns out that the current name of the e-newsletter is  . . .  “E-Newsletter.”   Here’s what it looks like.

I do have a ton of nonprofit e-newsletters in my inbox called “E-Newsletter” so it’s not like that’s a horrible thing. But the fact that everyone does it also argues for being a bit more original. Plus I’m just not a fan of being so literal about everything we do. (Side note: Read Katya’s post today on why you should not call your annual appeal letter your “annual appeal letter” in the actual annual appeal letter copy! I agree wholeheartedly.)

I don’t know what MetroWest Health Foundation should call its newsletter, but here is how I would work through the decision.

First: Where’s the Value to Readers?

Why do people want to get the newsletter in the first place? What do they get out of it?  Newsletter names like “Healthy Hearts” or “Faces of Hope” would fit this description. You can also put the category of reader in the name, like “The Memo for Busy Moms.” Conveying that value or that sense of membership in the name reinforces the decision to read it.

Second:  What’s Special about the Content?

What stands out about the content? Is is truly timely,  a la “News Flash,” or is it full of advice and resources a la “News You Can Use”? Or is there a play on words related to what you do? For example, animal shelters often use “Tales” in their titles as a play on cat and dog tails.

Third: Fill in the Blank

If you are still struggling, trying filling in the blanks as a brainstorming exercise:

Your ________ Update

The ____ Post

________ Weekly (or Monthly)

________ Insider (or Inside ______)

______ Tips (or Tips for _________)

_______ Buzz

_______ Times

Other synonyms to play with are Bulletin, Brief, Dispatch, Note, Report, and Digest. Add some adjectives.

Here are some other e-newsletter titles that I discovered in my inbox:

National Parks Conservation Association: Park Lines

Grist: Daily Grist

North Carolina Zoo: Zmail Update

The Land Trust for Tennessee: Today’s On the Ground Update

National Wildlife Foundation: Kids Connection

NC Wildlife Federation: Wildlife Wire

Center for EcoTechnology: EcoBytes

What’s your e-newsletter called? Do you have any suggestions for the MetroWest Health Foundation?

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  • http://twitter.com/SHIMpgh SHIM

    I work for a non-profit called South Hills Interfaith Ministries.  Most people know us by our initials: SHIM.  So we named our e-newsletter SHIMpressions.  We’ve gotten great feedback on it!

  • http://www.take2services.com Bix

    Hi Kivi,

    First things first: love your blog! 

    As for e-newletter titles, we often wonder what purpose these titles serve. Do readers actually wait for, and read the e-newsletter whose titles usually indicate a report-back / summary of things the nonprofit has done? Or, is the title of the e-newsletter really to help differentiate it from all the other mailings one is sending out? If the latter, then the inevitable question is of course, are you (the nonprofit) doing mass / undifferentiated mailings – i.e. sending everything to everyone, regardless of whether their interest. This is often a huge issue for nonprofits, because it takes time, work and a good database to really segment and drill down to who gets the content/ info that’s most valuable for them. 

    So, our suggestion is: think carefully about whether and why you need a title for your e-newlsetter. And if there’s no great reason, use short, catchy and timely subject lines instead. We did this for one organization changing their e-newsletter title from “Matters of Conscience” to subject lines, like “Will Facebook Shape How We Remember?”. The result: open-rates went up. 

    Hope this helps! – Bix and Stephanie http://www.take2services.com

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  • http://twitter.com/ajlovesya Allison Jones

    This is a great point and I would love to see how various nonprofits test this out.  For example, KIPP NYC’s newsletter is called “The KIPP Difference” and the content highlights what makes them unique. When it arrives in my inbox it’s simply titled “The KIPP Difference: October 2011 E-newsletter”  Since I know it will discuss a unique element of KIPP I know what to expect.  I think it really it depends on your audience and what you want them to walk away with.  

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    Everybody is receiving hundreds of pieces of email everyday, newsletters, junk, offers, promotions. Your e newsletter has to stand out – Try something completely different for your eshot – something that will stand out in the inbox from everything else. I love the newspaper suggestions – The Daily Grist is brilliant. We call ours the National Whippeter!

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