One of the most effective marketing tools you can use to promote your web site is an online newsletter. An online newsletter — whether daily, weekly or monthly — gives you a chance to connect with your more loyal visitors. It gives a reason for your audience to come back to your site, peruse your new content and check out your current offerings. |
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when starting an email or online newsletter:
1. Decide on the objective of your newsletter.
The objective will shape the contents of your newsletter, and create its value to your customers. Is it designed to make you money? Is it designed to educate your customers? Is it designed to engage your customers? Or is it designed to spread your message? What you want to accomplish with your newsletter will dictate its setup and the content you will use on it.
One of the common ways internet marketers use newsletters is to generate repeat and consistent traffic. With this objective, your newsletter can contain a blurb about the article and a link to lead them to your site to read the full content instead of publishing the entire article in the email. Not only does it generate more page views for your site, but also it reduces the email size if you are sending out your newsletter in HTML thus saving the subscribers with valuable bytes in their inboxes.
Some people create newsletters primarily as a revenue-generating mechanism designed mostly to please the advertisers. Most of these are nothing but ads, with little content. While this approach may give you income, you must consider how many among your subscribers enjoy reading nothing but ads every time. The ideal thing to do will be to balance the need of your advertiser and the reader.
2. Create a website
Have a site where people can check out what you offer, subscribe to your newsletter and post archives of your newsletter.
There are newsletter publishers who do not have a web site. While a web site is not absolutely necessary, it is easier to attract subscribers if there is a site where they can see what you are offering and fill up a subscription form. Without a site, your list will grow only through the power of the word of mouth and direct referrals. If you have a really unique and excellent newsletter, this may not be a problem. But if your content is something commonly offered or similar to content also offered by other newsletters on the same topic, it would be hard to increase your subscriber base. In fact, your subscriber base may slowly diminish without being replenished.
A website, however, is a must. If you are intent in growing your newsletter, make the signup form visible. Keep it above the fold. Even better, put one at the top, and another after the article. If a visitor came to site initially unconvinced to signup, they may change their mind when they scroll and finish reading your wonderful content.
3. Use a mailing list vendor.
If you have a dozen or so subscribers, you can use your mail client such as Outlook to send out your newsletter. One note of caution: avoid sending through your mail client and have your subscribers’ emails shown in the cc. Or even bcc. It screams amateur, and allows other people access to your subscribers’ emails.
However, as soon as your subscriber list grows, you must have a scalable system powerful enough to manage the process of sending out your emails. Find software that would allow you to add people to your list automatically and send out your newsletter. Some even offers personalization, anti-spam-security, list importer/converter, automatic un/subscription, send report/statistics, address-error-check/report, full online administration, newsletter and list editing, upload function, subscription date and IP-logging, data dupe checking, re-subscriber recognition and more.
Check your web host if they provide free mailing list software to their clients. Otherwise, check out vendors such as MailChimp, Direct Contact, and others.
4. Decide on the modality of your subscription: opt-in or double opt-in.
Many newsletter publishers use the opt-in modality, but the major marketers look for double opt in subscription. Double opt-in is when a person submits a request to subscribe either through direct email to your list or using the subscription form in your web site. You then send a confirmation of the email, with the request that if the person indeed wants to subscribe, to send back the email with the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.
Try to avoid the opt-out modality in subscribing a person to your newsletter. Opt-out is when a user fills up a form on your site get a free report, for example, and they are automatically subscribed to your newsletter unless they specifically “opt-out.” It is also the strategy employed by some marketers when they send their newsletters to a “targeted list” (usually from mailing lists they bought) and the recipient is automatically subscribed unless the person sends an email stating that he/she wishes to unsubscribe. This action is tantamount to spamming, and it can ruin your reputation as a responsible Internet marketer.
5. Develop the content of your newsletter.
The quality of the content of your newsletter will dictate its stickiness and value to your subscribers. The more original and informative the content, the easier it will be for you to retain your existing subscribers and attract new ones.
There are three ways to develop content for your newsletter: you can produce all-original content; use high-quality article contributions; or develop own content mixed with article submissions from other authors.
If possible, avoid using articles from databanks like EzineArticles.com. While these allow you to easily choose articles to use from a wide range of topics, the quality is often low and you run the risk of your subscribers reading your same content someplace else. Originality is now lost: you will simply be recycling the same material that has been published in a dozen or so newsletters.
6. Decide on how to make money from it.
You can make a lot of money with a good email list. Advertisers are always on the lookout for places to tap to spread their message. If you have built a highly qualified list, you can use that to generate income for you.
When you run a newsletter, the common ways to earn money from it are:
- Run advertising on the newsletter — include advertising within the newsletter (whether image or text ad) or include sponsored content
- Sell solo ad spots — Instead of your content, only the advertiser’s content will be sent
- Rent out your list — It is best to get permission from your subscribers first whether they would allow their name to be used by third parties when they sign up. You can have your exclusive list, and you can have a separate list that you can rent out to third party advertisers or list aggregators.
Producing a regular newsletter is a rewarding, but time consuming, effort. Its success hinges primarily on its quality, so every effort must be taken to ensure that you are producing a valuable resource for your subscribers.