To Start An Email Newsletter
Here are the goals:
You regularly send out relevant and anticipated email
newsletters to your ever-growing list. You have a form on your website
that asks people to sign up for your email newsletter. When someone
signs up, they give you their name and email address and they receive
a few automatic and customized emails that you previously crafted
while they wait for their first newsletter edition. You have a database
that stores each person's email address and you have a way to send
out regular emails to them all, including beautiful HTML newsletters
(e-zines). You watch the list grow over time and watch readers turn
Here are the benefits:
- You are continually
building a list of loyal readers that grows over time
- Your readers
spread the word that your organization is helpful, knowledgeable
- Your readers
are regularly reminded of your organization's continued existence,
growth and relevance.
- Some loyal
readers will turn into loyal paying customers.
- You learn
more about your customers and site visitors by asking them to
communicate with you through the newsletter.
- You generate
a new income stream by selling advertisement space
- You'll have
a regular source of fresh and original content to add to your
website which will help search engine rankings.
There are two distinct, but equally important aspects
of starting an email newsletter that need to be addressed for you
to accomplish the goals and gain the benefits listed above. First,
you need the infrastructure and functionality to make all this happen,
such as a database, an HTML form, a method for sending out emails
in quantity and so forth. Second, you need the content that will
be in each newsletter. This article will explain how to do both.
The Needed Infrastructure & Functionality
for an Email Newsletter
Does getting the infrastructure sound difficult? Does
it sound like you have to know a lot about programming? Neither
is true. This wheel doesn't need to be re-invented.
There are a number of websites that offer paid services
that provide the entire infrastructure for you. The cost is a fraction
of the cost of developing the infrastructure yourself. Two good
examples of this type of service are Constant Contact and Aweber.
I prefer Aweber
and find its interface intuitive and easy to use. I use Aweber for
our company email newsletter and suggest it to all our clients.
Using a browser I can log into my Aweber account and
create text or HTML email auto-responder messages for people to
receive when they visit our site or sign up for our e-zine. I can
create a simple HTML form that asks for people's name and email
as well. In fact, the html code for the form is created for me and
all I have to do is cut and paste it into my site. No programming
Each person's information is stored in a database
on Aweber's servers. I can manage my leads list in my browser and
sort by different ways. It also allows me to see how many of my
auto-responders have been sent already. And every email that we
send out has a personalized first name greeting.
There is a place in Aweber where I can manage my messages,
whether they are regular emails to part of the list or a newsletter
that's sent to the entire list. And there is a place where I can
enter my messages, edit them, check to see if they will trip any
sp@m filters, I can test the messages by sending them to my own
email address first, and finally I can send them all out at once
with one simple click.
The Needed Quality Content for an Email Newsletter
It’s not good enough to just have the infrastructure
and functionality. You need content that makes people want to accept
and read your newsletters over and over again.
Your newsletter ought to be related to your website
and organization. Every person and organization has valuable and
unique knowledge and experience to offer others. And you'd be surprised
at how many people want your unique knowledge. Sharing this knowledge
and experience with your existing and potential customers is what
the Web is all about. People use the Web for getting information.
So make your newsletters about various aspects of your business
or organization, and make them educational, so that your readers
come away with more useful information than they had before.
So if you're a Web design firm, write about Web design
in your newsletters. If you're a small local bookstore, write about
how to become an author, or how to start a local bookstore. If you're
a financial advisor, write about how people can make sound investments.
If you're a furniture builder and seller, write about how to fix
up old pieces of furniture on your own.
Newsletters that are just extended advertisements
don't cut it. If your newsletter only has announcements of new or
improved products or services, or specials that you're running,
then you're missing the boat completely. There is so much more you
Creating newsletters that contain useful, relevant
and anticipated information for your readers is what to aspire to.
You want to give away ideas and concepts for free that can be used
to help improve some aspect of your reader's lives. You obviously
don’t want to give away the whole farm since a lot of your
expertise is what you charge for in the first place. But giving
some information away for free is a win-win.
Most often, your readers don't care about you or your
company or your specific products or deals, they only care about
what you can do for them. If they take the time to open your email
newsletter and read it, it better provide them with some real value
or they won't bother again and your list will not grow, but eventually
wither away into oblivion.
In return for providing useful, original content,
you develop a constantly growing list of loyal readers who will
spread the word that you are an authority in your field. Your readers
may eventually buy from you if they haven't already. And you can
use your list to occasionally sell your products or services, but
do this very sparingly. You can use the newsletter for selling advertisement
space, but again, use sparingly. Finally, you can use your list
to learn more about your customers and site visitors. You can ask
the people on your list to fill out an online survey, but be sure
to offer them an incentive for their time.
If you don't know any programming or HTML but want
to send out a regular newsletter, you can use Aweber to create text-only
messages. If you want to send out professional HTML email newsletters,
then either learn HTML and design (which is obviously time-consuming,
but certainly possible), or hire a Web firm to do it for you. I
would also suggest hiring a firm to help you with writing the content
as well if you’re not comfortable with writing.
But as you can see, you don't need much to get an
email newsletter going. If you can regularly create quality content,
just sign up for an online service like Aweber and away you go.
An internal customer email list is a very valuable asset for any
organization. Handle it with loving care. Never sell or rent your
list to anyone, try to offer value in your writing, and don't overuse
it as an advertisement medium.
Good luck and happy e-zining!
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