Even with all the latest communications techniques available on the web, and the now older RSS (Really Simply Syndication) technology, for many websites and blogs, e-mail still remains the tool of choice for serious Internet marketers and savvy web business providers. Why?
With an e-mail system such as the one we have outlined below, you can obtain permission-based e-mail addresses and send a regular free e-mail newsletter to people who have indicated that they are interested in hearing what you have to say.
Even more importantly, from your perspective as a web business provider, a free e-mail newsletter:
- Provides the first step in identifying potential customers, and
- Allows you to help subscribers solve their problems — on multiple occasions.
- Can also be required to be profitable in its own right, if you perfect how to help or serve people first.
Key tip: if want to provide a free e-mail newsletter that is itself intended to generate direct sales, then I suggest that you need to apply all or most of the tips and techniques outlined below. Free doesn't necessarily mean no additional income. If you're operating a commercial web business, I urge you to consider that all of the time your devote to your website publishing has a cost attached to it.
The basis for this article can be found at InternetTIPS.com. We have developed an amazing e-mail newsletter and subscriber system made up of several different but compatible components and which meets most of the 33 goals below.
33 Steps to E-Mail Newsletter Heaven
Consider the following guidelines designed to help you create a near perfect e-mail newsletter broadcast facility:
- Tip 1: If you're going to make an e-mail newsletter available, give the project your full commitment. Half-hearted attempts can give a worse impression than delivering no newsletter at all.
- Tip 2: Provide at least one free newsletter. Why? The word "free" still carries powerful built-in attraction, and when managed properly, a "free" newsletter can actually become a profitable venture.
- Tip 3: Make your free newsletter available weekly or at least every two weeks. Monthly is most likely too long a frequency in today's fast paced world.
- Tip 4: Make sure that for a subscriber to register to receive your newsletter requires a double-opt-in procedure. That means, after a visitor has chosen to sign up, your newsletter system automatically sends the applicant a confirmation e-mail containing an encrypted link. The applicant is asked to click the encrypted link, after which, the applicant is fully subscribed to the newsletter. Make sure your subscription system then automatically sends a "subscription success and Welcome" e-mail to your new subscriber. Key tip: the "subscription success" e-mail is especially important in that this gives your subscriber their first taste of your style. Therefore, make a memorable first impression.
- Tip 5: If your next email newsletter is not due for several days, you could include a website link either to the most recent edition of your newsletter or to a sample edition.
- Tip 6: Ideally, include the option to provide your newsletter in plain text or Web HTML format, or both formats in the same newsletter. Why? Although HTML is the preferred format for newsletters today, some may still prefer the plain text version. The web HTML version is ideal for easy archiving on your website (see later tip below).
- Tip 7: In each edition of your newsletter, include at least one main feature article or a sample portion of the feature. You could also include some tips or reviews.
- Tip 8: Ensure that your newsletter has the following qualities:
- Speaks in the style of language that your subscribers expect. Simple, direct, and to the point, if appropriate. Literary and ornate, if appropriate. Even mix the two styles if you want to test responses to different approaches.
- Has an interesting and engaging feel or personality.
- Demonstrates a friendly written "voice".
- Discusses topics that are relevant to what your readers expect.
- Evokes a unique, compelling style with a certain flair.
- Is not stuffy or pompous or boring.
- Provides an enjoyable experience for your subscribers.
- Tip 9: Become aware of the kinds of words and phrases that can trigger Spam filters, then avoid using those entries. Use one of the various free Spam-checking tools that are available for this purpose. For example: check out http://isnotspam.com) or search on Google, Yahoo, or Bing to find the latest tools available.
- Tip 10: Make sure that your newsletter has a rich, lavish, instantly attractive appearance. Why? first impressions really do count. Your newsletter may be the first point of contact that you make with a new customer.
- Tip 11: Keep core feature article brief. How? ideally, include only the first 2 or 3 paragraphs in your e-mail newsletter, then make the remainder available online at your website. Your subscriber can then log in to view the full edition. Why? By keeping your newsletter brief, you can save website bandwidth, broadcast cost, time and resources. Also, each time a subscriber visits your website to log in, you web stat figures increase. Furthermore, can also expose subscribers to any latest special offers that you may have on your website and thereby potentially make additional sales through using this tactic.
- Tip 12: Within your newsletter, include links to relevant articles, tips, reviews and resources on your website that are relevant to the topics featured in each current newsletter. Why: to help promote your website too.
- Tip 13: Ideally include one or two carefully selected images as part of your newsletter feature topic. Make sure the images you use are not too large or too small but sufficient to support the text to which they relate.
- Tip 14: Don't include any images within the same file as your newsletter. Instead, upload all newsletter images to a special reserved directory on your website, then link from the article to each image you want stored within the special image folder. Why? If you include images directly within each newsletter file, the file size of each newsletter increases significantly. You'll then have to send a larger than necessary file copy to thousands or tens of thousands of subscribers (or more). As a result, your newsletter broadcast will, at best, take much longer to send, and at worst, may get blocked by ISPs for having too large a file size for each newsletter (remove the images and newsletter file size drops dramatically).
- Tip 15: If possible, in each issue of your newsletter, include a link to a relevant video clip that can be viewed online and which is only accessible from your website through subscriber log-in. Keep the clip short to reduce bandwidth. Ideally, allow video clips to be viewed only by members who have opted to pay for a website membership subscription, or to customers who have made significant purchases from your website business in the past.
- Tip 16: Often, you can use a web Content Management System extension that allows you to compose, manage and send your newsletter from within your own website administration. Why? To keep full control in-house. You can opt for a system that automatically broadcasts your email newsletters as soon as you hit the Send button, and which then staggers your broadcasts 100 subscribers at a time, wait 60 seconds, then repeat the process until all newsletters have been sent. Why? To prevent overloading your shared web server and ensure all newsletters are reliably delivered.
- Tip 17: Educate your visitors and subscribers about how to white-list your website and email newsletters. How? Include a page on your website that explains what white-listing is and how to white list your site using most popular email providers.
- Tip 18: Make sure that the heading text you use for your e-mail Subject line is not too long. Ideally, use fewer than 5 words.
- Tip 19: Ensure that your e-mail Subject line provides only just enough information to engage and attract the interest of your reader. Don't include too much information or tell the key story of your newsletter in the Subject line. Why? You'll most likely want as many subscribers as possible to read your newsletter, so make it a tempting proposition. Also, longer Subject lines can be ignored by recipients or are more likely to be flagged as Spam by Internet Service Providers.
- Tip 20: Provide a link in your newsletter to a page on your website containing a tell-a-friend web form, so that your subscribers can share details of your newsletter with their friends and colleagues. However, do also mention in your newsletter and on your website that if friends and colleagues want to receive their own copy, they should register normally and create their own subscription account.
- Tip 21: Associate the written newsletter with a real person as the author of the newsletter. Why? To create an essential human bond to help your subscriber see your newsletter and website as a facility that is run and provided by real people, not autoresponders or bots. Otherwise, your newsletter can seem like an automated or corporate email with no heart.
- Tip 22: Include at least one small head or head and shoulders photo of the author of your newsletter within each newsletter edition. Why: to strengthen further the same essential human connection referred to above. Make sure the photo shows the subject smiling but not appearing too happy. The goal here is to keep facial expressions friendly but subtle. Why? For some topics you may cover in your feature article, a laughing author may not mix well and therefore, may need changing. By keeping the overall effect low key, you can make a superb newsletter presentation and minimize any extra work that may be required from you. An interesting twist on this idea is to use a small caricature drawing or cartoon-type image of the author instead. However, if your newsletter feature covers a serious topic where humour would be inappropriate, then I suggest you use a subtle photo image instead.
- Tip 23: Ideally, provide a link that allows the reader to view the HTML version of your newsletter on your website. Why? Some Internet Service Providers may block images within e-mail messages. Also, some subscribers may simply prefer to read your newsletter on your website anyway. For those that do, after they have read the current newsletter edition, they may also view other pages on your website or more easily access additional special deals.
- Tip 24: If you provide your newsletter on your website, in the left or right column around your newsletter content, consider subtly adding some links or tempting linked images that point to your latest special offers. Why? To give subscribers the chance to examine and optionally buy your special offers that are available to them.
- Tip 25: In the footer of your newsletter, include a standard postal mailing address of your office or from where your newsletter comes from. Why? Openness and clarity demonstrates professionalism in business, quality and a clear commitment to service. If you're based in the USA, including a US Postal service address may even be a legal requirement. If you operate a web business from home and prefer not to include your full home address, the next best option is to include a partial home address. For example, omit the house number or name, and street where you live. Avoid using a box number in your postal mailing address. Why? A common perception is that box numbers are used by people who for whatever reason, do not want to be identified, therefore, readers tend not to trust providers of box numbers when included in e-mail newsletters or web businesses.
- Tip 26: Make sure your newsletter complies with the US CAN-SPAM Act. Although the CAN-SPAM Act is a legal requirement in the USA, the idea is to provide transparency, consideration and good practice — therefore, for those reasons alone, can offer additional benefits for all providers of e-mail newsletters wherever you may be based. Also, remember to comply with any local, regional or state laws that may also apply.
- Tip 27: If you're situated outside of the USA, make sure that your newsletter complies with any laws or directives that may apply in the country in which you're based.
- Tip 28: Establish an automatic website newsletter archive system and provide access to your newsletter archives to your subscribers.
- Tip 29: Include an automatic unsubscribe link at the end of each newsletter edition to allow users to unsubscribe from your website without hassle, or taking up your time and resources. Why? Although we naturally don't want subscribers to cancel a subscription, for a variety of reasons, a subscriber's personal situation can change so that your newsletter may no longer be required. When you make unsubscribing quick, easy, automatic, your subscriber can leave with with a positive association to your newsletter or website, while at the same time, automatic unsubscription minimises any additional work that may otherwise be required of you (when you run a web business, you'll most likely already be busy enough). Also, you definitely don't want to devote newsletter resources to subscribers that do not want your newsletter. You can minimise unsubscription numbers by focusing on creating a relevant, interesting, quality-based newsletter, rather than making unsubscription difficult for your subscribers.
- Tip 30: When you have an automatic unsubscription process in place, during the final stage ideally also include a quick and easy web form that asks the subscriber whether they are unsubscribing through dissatisfaction or whether they would like to mention why they are unsubscribing, in order to address any shortcomings and help you provide a better service for others. If you write this web page in a considerate way, even subscribers who have not had a satisfactory experience with your newsletter, may provide some useful feedback.
- Tip 31: Within your unsubscribe web form as suggested above, on the same page, thank your subscriber for subscribing originally and specifically mention that they are welcome to re-subscribe at any time in the future.
- Tip 32: Within your automatic unsubscribe system, after a subscriber has fully unsubscribed, ensure that a web page displays that confirms to the ex-subscriber that they have now fully unsubscribed. Also, on this final unsubscription page, you could include a link back to your Home page, or automatically re-route the user to your website Home page within 10 seconds. Why? To maximize any residual sales potential.
- Tip 33: When a subscriber has fully unsubscribed, arrange for your email system to automatically send them a confirmation email that:
- Confirms they have now unsubscribed.
- Thanks your now ex-subscriber for originally subscribing.
- Assures them that they're welcome to re-subscribe at any time in the future.
- Confirms that the current message is the last message they will receive from you, unless they indicate otherwise.
- Helps you ensure that you do not send further emails if requested. You can stand out for all the right reason by not being one of those seemingly growing number of idiot companies that completely ignore requests not to send further emails or newsletters, while making excuses or blaming their network provider.
Is Such a System as Outlined Above Available?
The set-up discussed above is currently available on InternetTIPS.com and on selected Platinum Package websites we develop for clients. Contact InternetTIPS.com Customer Support Services if you would like to hear more about how we can help you too provide a world-class website publishing solution. With just a little more development work, we think we could meet all 33 requirements outlined above. Keep watching.
What About Outside Email Delivery Services?
Text. You can vastly simplify the process of providing an email newsletter by using outside services like:
Two drawbacks of all these kinds of services include:
- You lose full control.
- Depending on how many subscribers you have, you may have an additional monthly or yearly cost to find.
- You are sharing email addresses with outside parties. For your geographical jurisdiction, check into the legalities of doing this first.
However, benefits include:
- You can focus completely on your eNewsletter content, since the e-broadcast technicalities are taken care of by your email newsletter provider.
- All external services like those above can help manage legal requirements for you, and bounced emails, etc., plus ...
- You may be able to reach higher numbers of your subscribers through their proven spam-free network infrastructures.
- You may have access to analytics and A/B testing tools, that allow you more easily to fine-tune, or change your email newsletters.