Looking to Boost Your Business? Try E-newsletters

E-newsletters typically get better readership than newsletters sent by traditional direct mail. They cost much less than paper versions because there’s no printing or postage costs. As a public relations tool, they can build traffic to your Web site and give you valuable information about your customers.

Launching an e-newsletter is not difficult, but it takes some planning.

First, you need to build an opt-in list of subscribers, that is, a list of people who have signed up to receive the newsletter. You’ll need to post a sign-up box on the home page of your Web site. Don’t try to gather lots of information from the subscriber by creating a long registration form, as new subscribers may be put off by any attempts to gather additional information that could be used for marketing. You may be able to gather that information later using surveys and customer feedback requests.

Next, you should structure the content. You’ll want a consistent look from issue to issue, including the same masthead and the same typeface. You should also decide whether to write the e-newsletter in HTML, which is visually more interesting, or plain text, which accommodates more e-mail programs.

The length of articles should be relatively short, since nobody has the time to scroll through long text. Interspersing the text with hyperlinks to related stories or products of interest helps keep articles short.

Fourth, you will need to decide how to manage the mailings. The frequency of the e-newsletter should be consistent, arriving on the same day each week, month, or quarter. If you decide not to use a mailing service or list server, make sure you break your list down into groups of 50 names or less. Otherwise your newsletter could be mistaken for spam and bumped by the Internet service providers.

Bounce management is one advantage of hiring a professional list host. It can keep your list continually updated and delete undeliverable addresses. Typically, it also provides management reports and a security system.

Whether you keep fulfillment in-house or not, the purpose of an e-newsletter is to build strong customer relationships that will ultimately add to your bottom line—so provide content that will be a resource for readers.

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