At first glace it may seem very attractive to send your newsletter as a PDF attachment — all you have to do is create the document, attach it to emails and send it out to your contacts. Sounds easy but this method has a number of problems:
1. You are losing readers because many people won’t open it. Attachments are well-known vehicles to spread a virus. How many times have you read warnings about opening attachments? Your readers cannot be 100% certain your file is safe. Plus, even though most people have a PDF reader on their computer, I do encounter some who don’t. Those people can’t open your newsletter even if they want to.
2. Your attachment may be blocked. With an attachment, it is much more likely GMail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Outlook, etc., may mark your email as spam. The attachment could be removed by them, or your email gets sent to the recipient’s spam folder, they could get a warning about downloading it or it may not be delivered at all.
3. Fail forwards. It happens to me quite often: someone forwards an email to me that had an attachment but the attachment is left behind. When this happens, it is frustrating for both the sender and recipient. The end result will be no one sharing your content with their friends.
4. Cue the Spam. If people mark your email as spam, each time that happens it affects your deliverability with IPs. If you get too many spam complaints, eventually those ISPs may block all email coming from you. Not only will that prevent you from reaching inboxes, you won’t even know it is happening until after you are blocked (and getting unblocked will be very difficult.) In addition, many ISPs limit the number of emails you can send (especially with attachments) and if your database grows, your own ISP could prevent you from even sending them.
5. No tracking or analytics. You will have no way of knowing how many of your messages are being opened, how many people download the attachment, which subjects are most popular and which links are being clicked on (if the links in your PDF are even “clickable.”) Plus your database will become unmanageable, with you having to manually add and remove people, update email addresses and move people from one list to another.
6. The rise of mobile. More than ever before, email is being read on mobile devices. Generally, PDFs do not render well on small screens and the reader has to scroll in every direction to see the full text. PDF files can be quite large too, people won’t want to wait for the download or use their data plan for it.
7. Are you legal? Sending a newsletter as a PDF attachment may put you in contravention of spam laws. Of course, you have to adhere to the spam laws in your own country. In addition, if you are Canadian business mailing to people in the U.S., you have to comply with the U.S. CANSPAM Act and if you are U.S. based and mailing to Canadians, you have to comply with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). Here is some further reading on spam laws:
Note: It is my understanding that CASL is not yet in force but it is coming in less than a year from now and there will be no grace period. You will need to be in compliance immediately so now is the time to get ready.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. Please consult with a qualified legal representative to verify and ensure compliance with any laws.
What to do instead of sending your newsetters as a PDF attachment.
Use a third-party service such as AWeber. Deliverability will greatly improve, you will automatically comply with spam laws, you can track opens, clicks, etc., and you can segment lists. AWeber also integrates with other services so, for example, when someone purchases from you they can be added to your mailing list. This service also allows you to send both HTML and text versions, so they are accessible to everyone, plus it is easy (in one click) to create an online version for easy sharing to social media. Get a free trial for AWeber here and then contact me for a complimentary ezine assessment.
To your excellence,
Please note: AWeber links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click and purchase their service, I may be compensated. This compensation in no way affects my recommendation of their excellent service.