How can I do an Email Newsletter, let me count the ways…

One of the most popular methods of building an email marketing database is through subscriptions to an email newsletter. They are a great way to connect with new potential customers but how do you get started with one? Once the decision is made, you can get things going in pretty short order, but as with most things you need a good recipe to get things just right. And the best way to ensure a tasty dish, as I may have mentioned in previous posts, is to think it through before you start. So whats to think about, right? You want to increase your email database and what you have to say is definitely monumentally important to anyone with half a brain so you should just make it happen, right? Well, not necessarily. If you take a little time to think it through before you start, you can make your first endeavor into the world of email marketing a much more successful one.

So let’s think it through a bit:

I know you want ti increase your email database, but is that the only purpose behind your need to shower unsuspecting readers with your thought-provoking prose? Think about your ultimate goal in adding to your email database. Is it to drive traffic to your website, increase sales for specific products, interest potential attendees in upcoming events or to simply a way to stay connected with your client base by informing them of what is new and happening with your company?

What type of content do you want to present? Just because you have a good idea for an article or two in the inaugural issue does not mean your newsletter will have legs. Make sure that the concept behind the newsletter is scalable enough to include as yet undetermined topics for your concept. You don’t want to develop a newsletter entirely around the “pitfalls of baking 3″ diameter apple tarts during the winter solstice” when a slightly broader topic like “3” tarts” will allow you the fluidity needed to keep your readers interested with a broader range of topics throughout the year.

How do you want your newsletter to be read? It seems like a simple enough questions but it is one that can have a great impact on how your particular brand of literary brilliance is received. There are a number of ways to format a newsletter, all of which are good, but what works best for you is entirely dependent on the content you plan to provide. The two most common types are the All-in-one and the click-through.

The all-in-one type brings all of the content of the newsletter right to your subscribers inbox. They allow the subscriber to easily digest the information for quick action.These work very well for company announcements, affiliate sales and newsletters with fewer articles or shorter content. The advantage of these is they are entirely encapsulated so they are easy to read on the go with various wireless devices.

Click through
The click-through type of newsletter is one that provides a summary of each article with a link to continue reading. This type of newsletter generally has both an email and website component It is more suited to newsletters with a great deal of technical content, a large numbers of topics or longer more in-depth articles. Although it can be more time-consuming to maintain, this type of newsletter allows for additional benefits outside of simply bolstering your email database. With this type of newsletter you are driving traffic to your website with each click and once they are finished reading your newsletter, they might decide to stick around and see what else you have to offer at that moment in time. It also allows for the possibility of both broad and targeted advertising based on topic rather than just the broad type of advertising that the all-in-one might deliver.

Now that you have done your due diligence: you know your purpose, you have a scalable idea for ongoing content and your format is set, it is time to get busy. Your next steps are to come up with a catchy title, some awesome design and a way to make it go.

Catchy title – Check! Forget the marketing angle, the brilliant name you came up with is probably the whole reason you decided to do the newsletter in the first place, right? 🙂

Awesome design – Check! You know a kick’n designer that can make that brilliant title sing. All you have to do is give him the name and the next great content vehicle is as good as done! And if you don’t think you need the next great design, that is not a problem either because there are ways of making your newsletter talk even if it in NOT one of the pretty people.

Way to make it go – Uh, oh! How do I do that? Well lucky for you this ain’t your mama’s content distribution method. There are a great many ways to give your vehicle wings and none of them require jet fuel. If you don’t have a bunch of technology black belts lying around just waiting for you to come in with your next flash to brilliance then you will want to consider using a third-party email provider to deliver your newsletter and more importantly maintain your email database.

There are an ever-increasing number of providers out there to suite this need and the one you go with depends a lot on you. Most have tools and templates for creating simple HTML newsletters (in case you do not feel the need for design ecstasy in your template) but all will help you manage your list. You can find solutions to fit anything from a large enterprise implementations that service lists in the hundreds of thousands (like YesMail, Silverpop and ExactTarget) all the way down to lists of less than a hundred. The trick is to read the features available for the cost and decide what works best for your list and mailing needs. Small businesses can easily find FREE Trials (like AWeber, VerticalResponse, and GetResponse for example) and depending on your list size and mailing requirements FREE forever (like my personal favorite MailChimp). Functionality varies from service to service but they all do a good job of helping you get your word out.

The best part of hosted services is the list maintenance. They allow you to set up your list with boning or preloaded with an existing database. From there they provide you with ways to create subscribe forms that can be used in your online marketing efforts, auto responders that can be used to carry a link to a free gift and all the while they handle any unsubscribes that come through to make sure that you stay CAN-SPAM compliant.

After the due diligence for your new newsletter us done, make sure to check out some of these email providers to see what works best for you needs: