How do I start an email newsletter? – 2

Q: contd/… We’d like to send out an email newsletter to all our contacts to alert them events in the company and seasonal promotions. We’ve been thinking about this for some time. What would you recommend?

Director
Financial Services Company
South West

A: Using the simplest method, you can harness Outlook to send a group email to all your enewsletter recipients. But this is limiting as you learn nothing about how successful your enewsletter is. For example, how many people clicked it? How many people opened it?

I recommend using a professional email marketing service (we like Intellicontact) who, for a few dollars a month, will let you send out enewsletters on demand. And unlike Outlook, that uses your server, the professional service will broadcast all your mails in minutes not days.

A professional service will also provide you with useful stats, as mentioned above, so you can see whether people are interested in what you’re sending them. Obviously, low open rates or click through rates spells trouble. But at least you’ll know about it and will know to fix it, perhaps with improved design, better headlines, or an email subject that doesn’t get turfed out by every corporation’s spamcop (eg Free Offer!!!)

A professional service will also allow you to send attractive html enewsletters with graphics and colour. Automatically it will detect if a user can receive html or not, and send them the appropriate html or ascii text version, depending.

You’ll need some design art for your html enewsletter as you’ll want to look good. There are lots of templates available free on the web to get you started. Most pro email broadcasters will provide your with a selection of these which your graphic designer can customise to your corporate style.

Question: Should you put all three stories inside the enewsletter itself, or should you just use headlines and some teaser text with a link that send people to read the main story on your website?

I prefer a shorter enewsletter with links. But the acid test of this is to split test. For example, send one half of your readership the short version, and the other half the long version. See which gets the most opens and clicks. Good email stats let you split test everything, eg, best subject, best layout, best content approach. Split testing eliminates hunches, and instead focuses on the actual facts.

Your pro email provider will also be able to help so that your new online subscribers’ data automatically goes into your database of recipient names. If you’re really keen to get your enewsletter started tomorrow, please write to me. We can set it all up for you.
© Studio Rossiter 2006

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