I’ve been sending eNewsletters for years inbetween the times we send our regular prayer letters.* Our friends and ministry partners have told us they appreciate this “extra,” and often personal, news.
Is Your Letter Readable?
If you send letters via email, you may have a few friends who write back to you saying they can’t read them. You probably sent the letter in HTML format (the look of a web page) and they can only read TXT (the look of a typed page) in their eMail provider. (Actually, I’ve been receiving fewer TXT-only eMails these days). The solution may be to send the letter in PDF format.
In simple terms, a PDF (Portable Document Format) file is a photograph of your original document. Just as anyone can see the photos you send in your eMails, they can see your PDF document. It doesn’t matter if they have a Mac or an older version of Microsoft Office than you do. As long as they have a PDF reader on their computer, they’ll be able to read your letter. Just google “free PDF reader” to download the software for a reader and make sure the reader is compatible with your operating system (Windows 7, iOS, etc.). The Adobe Reader is a very popular one.
Does Your Letter Look the Same on Anyone’s Computer?
You may also prefer a PDF format for your letter because your email will look the same to everyone who reads it. A letter sent in HTML may not look the same to your friend (especially if you have photos in your letter, because the photos will align differently depending on the size of the window your donor or friend is using to view it.) Also, if you’re using a special font, they may not have it on their computer and a default (read, “uglier”) font will mar that beautiful letter you crafted.
When you use PDF to eMail letters, make sure your subject line is compelling and include an intriguing quote from your letter in the body of your eMail. Raise your recipients’ curiosity so they’ll want to open the PDF file and read it.
Other Reasons in Favor of Using PDF Files
Follow this link for more reasons to choose a PDF format, including uses other than newsletters: Why PDF is the Go-To File Format for Business. (Don’t let the title put you off, this article is good for non-business reasons, too.)
I’m making a distinction in this post between prayer letters and supplemental eNewsletters (or prayer alerts). I simply don’t send electronic prayer letters to donors; I will send them to many non-donors who are interested in our news, however. I send PDF prayer letters or eNewsletters to people who ask for them (usually because they can’t receive HTML letters). Also, a church that donates to us wanted the PDF format so they can easily print our prayer letters and make them available in the church foyer. (PDF files will print nicely on your friends’ printers.)
Myself, I rarely send a PDF letter because it means that someone has to go through an extra step of opening the PDF file to see our letter. Instead, I usually include an HTML letter in the body of an eMail so our friends can read it straight away. (You can’t be sure they’ll click to read your PDF letter.)
Speaking of “clicking,” I also use MailChimp, which would take us a whole different direction. I’ll just say for now: follow the link if you’d be interested to know who is reading (and clicking on links in) your eNewsletters by using MailChimp or other eMail services.