An opt-in e-newsletter is one of the most effective marketing tools you can use because it is quick, personal, and inexpensive. Many small businesses are using e-mail newsletters to introduce themselves to new customers and to communicate with existing ones. By sending useful information on a regular basis, you can maintain constant contact without being annoying. In addition, an e-mail newsletter can enhance your credibility and increase sales.
Creating an E-mail Newsletter
Producing your newsletter doesn't have to be a monumental task. First, decide on the frequency of publication. This is based on how much time you have to do the work. Publishing it every quarter is probably a comfortable pace for both you and your readers. Next, produce a graphic design for your layout. Many e-mail list management companies provide online templates for their customers. You simply type or paste in your information online and an HTML or text based newsletter is created automatically for you.
Now it's time for the content of your newsletter. Concentrate on topics that your readers will be interested in, not the ones that only you find fascinating. Try to use real-life applications. For example, you can describe past successes and maybe even interview a customer or two. This way, you tell your audience how you solved a problem that relates to them and conveys that you are a results-oriented professional.
12 Tips for Successful E-mail Newsletters and Campaigns
1. Never purchase, trade, or borrow an e-mail list!
This is the cardinal rule of e-mail marketing. Sending e-mail to people who have not specifically requested to receive your mailings (opted-in) or to those who are not your members is almost always regarded as spam.
2. Make signing up and unsubscribing easy and visible
Put your form, or a link to your form, on your home page. Or, ask customers if they would like to sign up when you speak with them. You may only want to ask subscribers for their e-mail address, first, name, last name, and perhaps one or two other questions to target your mailings, such as their interests or demographics.
3. Use double opt-in registration
There are two standard methods for online registration-single and double opt-in. With single opt-in, a subscriber enters his or her e-mail address and is then automatically registered. Double opt-in is the preferred method for e-mail newsletter subscriptions because it requires confirmation.
5. Send a "Welcome" message to each new subscriber
Once someone subscribes, send him or her a welcome message immediately. Include a description of what they will receive, how frequently they will receive it, and how to unsubscribe.
6. Keep accurate sign-up records
Sometimes, you or your Internet Service Provider will get a spam complaint from one of your members who forgot that he or she subscribed to your list. Keep accurate subscription records, including the web site address from which they signed up and the date.
7. Ask your members to opt-in again if you are using an older list
If you have not sent a mailing to your subscribers for a while, ask them if they want to continue receiving your messages. Request that they opt-in to indicate they want to stay on your list by sending you an e-mail, clicking a link, or visiting a web page.
8. Remind people that they subscribed
At the top of your messages, include a standard header each time you send a mailing. A short note like "Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. Here is our latest issue:" can make a big difference in reminding your subscribers that you are not sending them something that they did not request.
9. Avoid certain terms in your Subject Line and message text
Don't use misleading Subject Lines. If your Subject Line contains words or terms that are frequently used by spammers, there is a good chance people will delete your message without reading it and/or file a spam complaint.
10. Include your physical address and phone number
Put your phone number and postal mailing address in your message. This gives your readers an opportunity to contact you by phone to place an order or inquire about your services. New federal legislation requires physical addresses on commercial e-mail messages.
11. Send your mailings regularly
Unless you keep in touch with your subscribers frequently, they may forget they signed up to receive your mailings. By sticking to a schedule, your subscribers begin to anticipate your messages.
12. Reply promptly to each inquiry or spam complaint
When and if you receive an inquiry or a spam complaint, respond to it as soon as possible. For spam complaints, include that persons' subscription information with your response.
Following these simple suggestions will help you retain your subscriber base, which is fundamental for a thriving electronic newsletter or outreach campaign.