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Technology / Email newsletters

So…you want your own email newsletter?

Having your own email newsletter (or ezine) is a great way to boost your profile and increase your credibility. But before you jump into the world of e-publishing, consider the following questions.

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Answering them could be the difference between a fabulous email newsletter that your clients look forward to, and spam that has them hitting the delete key as soon as it lands in their inbox.

1. What do you want to achieve?

This question has a direct bearing on all things relating your email newsletter, and one that will help you manage your expectations and outcomes. If you are expecting work to flow from your newsletter, you will need to promote it like any other business communications tool and allocate a budget to it. If your newsletter is a tool to keep you on the radar, you won’t need a promotional budget and you won’t mind if the work doesn’t flow.

2. How will you decide your content?

Knowing what you want to achieve and who you are writing for will decide content for your email newsletter. For example, if your audience is your client base, you will provide information to position you as a reliable expert who adds value to their experience. If you want use your subscriber list as a way to promote specials and check response rates, always have a disclaimer in your subscriber info that lets them know. Don’t use this method often or people will clue in and click off in droves.

3. Do people actually want your email newsletter?

Research your market before you embark on the email newsletter commitment, particularly if you intend allocating a budget for it. Are you making assumptions about technological ability or access of your readers, or their time, or inclination to read it? Ask what people would like to see in it to direct your content. Are you doubling up with something another business is already doing, and if so, can you form a strategic “newsletter” alliance? If this isn’t possible, what can you do differently?

"I publish mine monthly and it takes up to ten hours to research, write, edit, proofread, code and upload in the week it is due."

4. Do you have a promotional budget?

If you want work to flow, you will need a budget to promote it via your usual means, be it television, radio, flyers, brochures, press, other newsletters, business cards or Google.

Want more articles like this? Check out the email newsletters section.

5. Do you have the time?

Producing an email newsletter is a big time commitment. I publish mine monthly and it takes up to ten hours to research, write, edit, proofread, code and upload in the week it is due. However, the rewards are enormous, particularly when the feedback comes through, the response rates increase and you get new global subscribers!

6. Do you have the skills?

I am a writer and editor, so putting together a newsletter is an easy and enjoyable exercise. For others, though, it’s not so simple. If you don’t have the skills to put it together, can you learn them? How’s your written English? Will your writing reflect you and your business favourably? Can you write for the electronic media? If you have to pay someone to do this for you, can you sustain it? There is no point putting out a sub-standard publication, it won’t reflect you or your business favourably.

7. How will you deliver it?

There are a variety of ways to deliver your newsletter and which method you choose depends on your purpose, budget and skill level. I write mine in HTML and attach it to my website, and send it out as a link to everyone on my subscriber list via email. Note – make sure you use the BCC facility if you choose this method. Other people deliver via email with a PDF or Word Document. Still others, like Flying Solo’s newsletter, use email delivery software, where the newsletter ends up straight in the person’s in-box – no clicking required.

8. Can you comply with The Spam Act 2003?

The Spam Act is not as scary as it sounds, but you do need to comply. Make sure you include a contact address, and an unsubscribe facility and unsubscribe people from the email newsletter immediately you receive their request. There’s no point keeping people on your subscription list if they don’t want to receive your newsletter – you’ll end up just annoying them, and  prosecution is not that great for business!

9. How do you intend to measure your success?

Is your success measured by a subscription list that grows from opt-in subscribers and where unsubscribes are a rarity? Is your newsletter successful because of the response you receive from draws and competitions, or from regular feedback? Or are you only successful because of hits to your website or work that flows in? You’ve heard the mantra – if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. And measurement depends on what you set out to achieve in the first place.

This is part one of a two-part series. Part two explores ways of promoting and marketing email newsletters.

Diane Lee

is a teacher, writer & editor, who specialises in training, development and communications. Her mission is to encourage better ways of communicating with each other in the workplace, so that interactions are quality interactions.

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