Few marketing vehicles can match the power of a high-content, free
email newsletter delivered regularly to subscribers.
readers with more timely news can build relationships and drive revenue.
E-mail newsletters are a more intimate form of communication than print
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.
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
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.
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.
Write for scanning. Business readers are busy. Give
them what they need to know quickly and efficiently.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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?