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Index: Website Promotion

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Index 4: Email Promotion: Advice


Launching a Email News Letter
Few marketing vehicles can match the power of a high-content, free email newsletter delivered regularly to subscribers.

Providing your readers with more timely news can build relationships and drive revenue. E-mail newsletters are a more intimate form of communication than print publications.

An equation that comes to mind is; knocking on readers’ bedroom doors versus their front doors. Certainly, frequency and time of day are important while making this call. Other imperatives for a successful launch involve the recipients’ list, back-end delivery, and content.

List Creation

Gathering the recipients for your e-mail launch may be as simple as snagging a circulation list, but the best way to go is opt-in only. As electronic junk mail has thrived in the last few years, receivers are apprehensive of unsolicited e-mail. Going opt-in only ensures all subscribers want the communication.

Top 10 Keys to Newsletter Success

1. Keep it brief. Newsletter subscribers are more likely to skim at the time they receive it. Longer letters may get put aside for later reading, which reduces the chance they will get read at all.

2. Don’t be a tease. Make sure you are providing value in the e-mail itself. Don’t force a user to click through to get to what they really want.

3. Write for scanning. Business readers are busy. Give them what they need to know quickly and efficiently.

4. Format for scanning. For text newsletters, set margins at 70 characters or fewer to avoid awkward line wrapping. Use every trick in the book (caps, asterisks, dashes, and white space) to set items apart. For HTML, develop a scan-friendly design.

5. Tie into the Web site. For each story and ad, include relevant URLs. If the content is only published in the newsletter, link to other relevant material on your site.

6. Embed ads. Surround ads and offers with relevant content. Make sure editorial content appears at the very top of the newsletter. Readers seeing only an ad in their preview panels will be likely to delete the message.

7. Refine the content formula. Newsletters can contain news content, but they don’t have to. Time-sensitive information (stock prices, gossip, deals, and limited-time specials) and reference information (tips, how-to content, and demographic analysis) are good alternatives that extend the newsletter’s shelf life. Add incentives (contests, giveaways, and free research) to appeal to readers.

8. Brainstorm creative subjects and headlines. Use peers to create irresistible leads. Tie-ins to popular movies, sayings, and current events increase the likelihood of a recipient reading.

9. Be personable. Allow personality to come out in the newsletter. Readers appreciate a sense of humor and style, and if they know what to expect, they’re more likely to open it.

10. Examine feedback. Use link tracing to find out which stories were most popular and look for trends in reader interest. Responses from your users can be the best source to find out what they like.

One way to accomplish this is to install a “subscribe” button on the website and drive readers from the magazine to the site. Whether using a circulation, opt-in base, or otherwise-acquired list, be sure to keep it clean. Remove outdated addresses and provide an option to unsubscribe.

Distributing Content

Several free e-mail distribution programs are available, as well as third-party suppliers who will handle sending and tracking. If choosing a service provider, make sure they are familiar with the many e-mail clients. Also check their ethics,  “Some unscrupulous providers will use the ‘unsubscribe’ option only as a way to update e-mail addresses.”

  After the delivery avenue is set up, you must determine when to send. Weekly is a popular choice, daily and semiweekly are worthy secondary choices. But don’t venture beyond. “Anything further than once month, and a user forgets they have subscribed to your newsletter.

The best time to knock on the chosen day is morning or evening — prime browsing times for many professionals. But keep it short. Because you’re asking readers to spend their precious time reading your e-mail (when 15 others await), the recommendation is sending out no more than four screens.

Within those four screens, remember to keep content fresh. The newsletter has to be able to stand on its own — apart from print and Web. Despite the quick and temporary nature of e-mail, view the newsletter as a long-term proposition. Ask yourself what this newsletter will look like in five years. What if it becomes your prime publication? How will you generate income in an electronic environment?

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