Here’s an audience question that came up at a conference session I recently attended.

What is the best practice for enews: include the full text of articles, or short teasers with links to full articles on the web?

The trend I’ve seen is toward the teaser approach.

Pros for teaser style:

1. Easy to scan, reader friendly, important info stays above the fold (consider mobile devices)

2. Helps you collect data on which stories are most popular and what individual readers are interested in

3. Drives traffic to your web site where people have more opportunities to engage and share

4. Forces you to write better headlines and lead sentences

In fact, Michigan League of Conservation Voters recently converted their weekly email, Political Week in Review, from the long format to the short format, to take advantage of some of these benefits.

Cons for teaser style:

1. Inconvenient for people reading email in offline mode (Do people still do that? Maybe on airplanes)

2. Extra work of posting each article online, if you aren’t already doing that

My opinion? It also depends on your audience.

I talked to one nonprofit communication professional who asked her audience what they prefer, and the majority said they liked the full text within the message. Certainly try to honor people’s preferences, yet keep in mind that what readers say is not the same as how they behave.

If your goal is to get readers to take some sort of action, my advice is simple: experiment until you find something that elicits the desired action.

If you have played around with this, please share your experience in the comments.

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