Our number 1 rule of e-newsletters is: if your first e-newsletter isn't good, no one will open your second e-newsletter. If your first e-newsletter doesn't have valuable information and is enticing to read, the folks you most want to reach won't look forward to your next e-newsletter. And if that happens, all the time and expense you invested in your e-newsletters would be for nothing.
It's critical to make sure you have a newsletter that's well-designed, have stories your audience benefits from, and is well-targeted. If not, your audience might just delete your email. Or in the worst case, they'll mark it as spam. If .05% of the recipients mark your email as spam you'll likely be banned from using a reputable email service to send your e-newsletters.
With a well-done e-newsletter your audience sees you as an expert in your field and sees your success stories. Then, when your prospects are ready for someone with your expertise, you'll be top of mind. Staying in your prospect's mind depends on having a regularly scheduled newsletter, even if it's once a quarter.
Four critical things to know before you start.
- Preparing an email list is the exact opposite of preparing a direct mail list:
When it comes to direct mail, unless someone opts out you can assume they want to receive it. However when it comes to email, unless they opt in, you have to assume they don’t want it. Ignoring this simple rule can result in your organization being removed from reputable email services as quickly as you can say “Uh, really? Can they do that?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
- Don't purchase an email list:
Buy an email list and you fall into the trap addressed in number 1. You should only send emails to individuals and companies who have agreed to be on your email list. Of course, you should also send them to your current customers. By sending only to people who want to receive your communications, you'll avoid what happens in number 3.
- Worst case scenario if you use a purchased email list:
If someone gets your e-newsletter and they don't know who you are, they'll likely mark it as spam. Isn't that what you do when you receive an email you didn't sign up for? Unless, of course, they're kind enough to go through the effort to unsubscribe. This is why the bar to be blacklisted from legitimate email services (like Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor) is incredibly low. How low? If just 1 out of every 200 recipients (that's .05%) marks your email as spam there's an excellent chance you'll be blacklisted by a reputable email service from sending out further e-newsletters. Read about email blacklists here.
- Why you need to use an email service to send out your emails:
You’ve heard of Constant Contact, right? That’s an email service. If you’ve ever wondered why folks use those services instead of just sending out an email through their work or personal email, here’s why:
- Many email services (ie; Outlook, Gmail, Apple mail) won’t let you send out large quantities of emails at once, assuming it might be spam.
- Your company's IT department, or freelance IT consultant, might have set up your system to not allow mass emails to be sent out.
- The major email services (like Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor) have agreements with all the major email providers (ie: Gmail, Apple mail, Outlook, etc.) to assure what goes out through their services isn’t spam. That's why email service companies have rules to follow if we want to use their services. If we don’t go by their rules, we'll be banned from using their services.
- Email service companies have great reports that show who opened your e-newsletter, what links were clicked, and how often. See an example of a report from one of our e-newsletters here.
- The email services companies track who opts out of your e-newsletter. They make sure folks who have opted out won't receive your e-newsletter again even if you accidentally re-upload their email address. If you send your newsletter to folks who don’t want it, they’ll surely mark it as spam. And as we mentioned in item #3 (above), if just half a percent of your recipients mark your e-newsletters as spam, there's a chance you'll be banned from using their service.
- The email services track which email addresses are no longer active, which email addresses have full mailboxes, and which email addresses can’t receive emails for any number of reasons.
- And finally, they’re really inexpensive to send e-newsletters: between $10 and $30 a month. See Campaign Monitor's pricing here.
Here's an example of one of the reports Campaign Monitor offers:
Creating e-newsletters takes a bit of time.
You'll need to plan for a significant amount of time for each e-newsletter, because each issue requires you to:
- Write the stories (or blogs) on your website which you want to link from the e-newsletter
- Add those pages to your website that each “story” the e-newsletter links to. (If they don't already exist)
- Find and purchase the images that go in the newsletter and write the teaser text. The e-newsletter should only have teaser copy, which links to a page on your website with the full story. That makes the e-newsletter more inviting to read. See an example here.
- Prep the images for web, upload them to Campaign Monitor and make the “Learn more” link go to the page on your website that has the whole story
- Test the newsletter to make sure it looks good and make sure the links work in different email applications
- Compile, or update, the email address list each month
- Upload an updated version of the email addresses (if the list changes from one month to another), and
- Schedule the e-newsletter through Campaign Monitor to be sent out
If you don’t have the time to do it yourselves, you'll need help you with it from an experienced design firm who knows the ins and outs of both websites and e-newsletters. Just so happens, that's what we do! If you'd like to talk with us about your e-newsletter contact us today.