At first glance, PDF attachments look like the best way to send out your email newsletter. You create your PDF, attach it to your email, and blast it out to your contacts. Bam! What could be easier than PDF email newsletters?

It might sound easy, but is it really effective?

If you only send a PDF attachment to your list, you’ve completely missed the true power of email marketing. You have no way of tracking your emails and no way to easily manage your email list. And if you’re not careful, you could damage customer relationships, or send out emails to die quietly in the spam folder.

What’s a business owner to do? Make the most out of your PDF email newsletter with HTML formatting and online database integration.

Why PDF email newsletters miss the mark

1. Corrupted files
Few things frustrate like a corrupted PDF email attachment. This happens to everyone eventually, and it may not even be your fault. Some email server platforms modify your email slightly as it passes through their system, resulting in a corrupted PDF. Regardless, the end result is a PDF that nobody can read.

2. Blocked attachments
Once you make it past the email server, spam filters in Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Outlook and others may block your attachment completely. With the rise in attachment-based email viruses, every file could be a potential security threat. If somebody doesn’t remember signing up for your list, then they might not feel safe enough to check out your PDF if the email program has already blocked it.

3. Lost forwards
These days, everyone hopes their campaign will go viral. Email forwards can give your message wings. The bad news is, when your customers choose to forward your email newsletter, the PDF attachment might be left in the dust.

4. Spam concerns
If you’re sending PDF email newsletters from your personal server through a program like Outlook, you could be in for a big (and unpleasant) surprise.

Every time a reader marks you as spam, you lose credibility with Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This is important, because these ISPs decide the fate of your email. If you upset too many people (by sending corrupted attachments, for example), an ISP may decide to block all emails coming from your domain name.

Translation: Your emails will not make it to the inbox. And you won’t know a thing till the error messages start rolling in.

5. Unwieldy email database
With PDF newsletters, sending an email to specific lists of email subscribers can be an exercise in frustration. You’re either tied to a makeshift Excel database, large Outlook contact groups, or a CRM program that may or may not play nice with attachments.

Also, sending PDF attachments to a large number of emails is another great way to be marked as spam.

So, what does work?

Don’t let your emails go into the void! Integrating your PDF newsletters with an HTML email can save you a ton of visibility headaches. By sending email through a secure third-party platform, you free yourself from spam concerns, and shift your email marketing into high gear with detailed tracking and email database management.

Instant visibility & friendly forwarding
Respect your customers. Each additional second they spend waiting for your attachment to download is a chance for them to jump ship. They are looking for a reason to delete your message and answer the urgent email that came in right after yours. HTML emails download much faster than PDF attachments, and makes it easier for them to scan.

Even better, everyone they forward the email to will be able to read it instantly as well. HTML emails also scale to your window size, which is ideal for mobile email readers. This is a step up from PDF email newsletters, which can require zooming in and out to read.

Spam compliance & guaranteed deliverability
Not only do HTML newsletters look professional, you can ensure 99% deliverability by sending them through a reputable third-party platform. These figures are verified annually, and the companies work constantly to maintain a friendly relationship with ISPs to improve email deliverability.

Most HTML newsletters also include an automatic unsubscribe that filters requests directly through their server. This keeps you legal, significantly reduces your chances of being marked as spam, and also means you never have to worry about data entry!

Organized email database
With third-party email newsletter platforms, you can segment your email database and store it securely online. For example, you could create a list segment for “leads” and a list segment for “customers.” You can also pull information from this database into your emails, such as the First Name.

This allows you to personalize your emails to niches in your list instead of sending shotgun messages. By customizing messages, you can increase the response rate for your email marketing. This is worlds easier than fighting your way through Excel or Outlook groups.

Tracking & metrics
A major benefit of HTML emails is tracking. It’s important to know who is opening your emails, and who is ignoring them. Tracking reports can also show you what links readers are clicking on in your emails. When you combine this with analytics on your website, you can track how many people make a purchase, request more information, or contact you through the site.

Conclusion: Find a balance
Options are good. Using PDF email newsletters alone can be like throwing leaflets out the window and not bothering to see who is picking them up. For best results, combine the tracking, visibility, and spam compliance of an HTML email with a link to a PDF version on your website.

Readers who prefer a printed format will appreciate the standardized format of PDF attachments. With this combination, you can even track how many people download that PDF. Meanwhile you’ll be gathering detailed metrics on your list, and giving your readers more customized messages with organized databases and third-party HTML email delivery.

Wondering how your business can improve with email marketing?
Give us a call at (918) 518-5907 or contact us. We’d be happy to chat with you.