How to Increase Your Business with an E-Mail Newsletter

It is an accepted fact that a newsletter sent to your regular customers is an excellent way to keep in touch with them about new offerings, special sales, etc. Newsletter publishing is not an easy process, though. You have to write or find articles, lay it out, get it printed up, mail it... it takes time and money, enough that it may not pay off if you do it the traditional way. However, if you publish a newsletter that is delivered by email, you can accomplish the same goals while eliminating most of the time and expense. This report will show you how to put together an email newsletter, how to maintain your database of subscribers, and how to deliver it reliably via email.

First, you need to decide exactly what the intent of your newsletter is. Do you want it to be a line of communication with your present customers? Do you want it to generate new customers? Do you want it to be content only, or include advertising from other companies? How frequently do you want to publish? Monthly? Weekly? No regular schedule? Answering these questions will go a long way in planning your newsletter.

The content of your newsletter is the most important consideration. Articles should pertain strongly to the type of business you run, and the needs of your customers that you address. You, yourself, should be in an excellent position to write articles for your newsletter, if you know your business, products, and services. Write about new developments, new uses for your products, etc. Make sure the articles you write aren't weighted down with sales spiels. It's alright to occasionally put a short sales message at the end of an article, but that's what the rest of the newsletter is for. Your articles should contain a lot of "meat" that your customers will WANT to know about.

What if you don't want to write articles? Then solicit them from your customers, your suppliers, members of related associations you belong to, etc. Let them know that you won't be able to compensate them monetarily, but you can print contact information (their name, address, phone, and a short paragraph about what they do) at the end of their articles. In this way, their articles in your newsletter can draw business for them. Remember, though, it's extremely important to keep the articles concise, beneficial, and on-topic with your customers. Otherwise, they'll gradually cancel your newsletter!

Once you've assembled a collection of material, it's time to assemble your first issue. It's not necessary to use a fancy word processing or desktop publishing program, as people will be receiving this via text-only email, with no graphics. So, you can use a simple word processor (such as Windows Write or Windows Notepad) to put together your newsletter. Be sure to set the left and right margins wide (1.75 inches or better). Otherwise, some people will receive your newsletter with longer lines of text wrapped around to partial second lines, making it hard to read. A good newsletter consists of an "editor's letter," two to three decent articles, and a few ads at the end. Any more than this and the newsletter will be too long.

How should you get email addresses to send your newsletter to? Ask for them. Ask your customers for their email addresses, so you can send them a free newsletter. (IMPORTANT: A customer will be more likely to give you their email address if you assure them that you will not rent or sell it to another company. People, in general, don't like unsolicited junk email. Don't do this to your customers, or you'll lose business.) You can use a database program to store your email addresses, but it's just as easy to use the Windows Notepad program. Just type them in a continuous line, separated by commas. The method of how you send your newsletter to a long list of people will vary, based on what email software you are using. You may be on an online service, such as America Online, and be stuck using their included email program. Or, you may be using an email program such as Eudora with a regular Internet provider. Regardless, your email program should provide a space for: your return email address; the send to email address; the subject line; and (this is important) cc: (carbon copy - where you put a list of people who should also receive the same message) and bcc: (blind carbon copy - similar to a regular carbon copy, but the recipient will not see the list of other people who received the same message) spaces. If your email program does not have an explicit space for cc:/bcc: entries, check your instructions, or get another program!

When you want to send out an issue, you will want to put YOUR email address in both the return address AND the send to address spaces. Then, copy and paste your mailing list from the Notepad program into the BCC: space. Finally, copy and paste your newsletter copy into the message body space. When you send this email out, everyone on your list will get a copy, as well as you. Nobody will get your mailing list, as it won't be listed in the email.

Some final tips:

Put a write up about your free newsletter on your webpage, along with an email link, so visitors can subscribe. Put this same information on your stationery, business cards, press releases, etc. The more people on the list, the more business you generate.

Prepare a welcome message to new subscribers, detailing how they can "unsubscribe" (remove themselves from the mailing list), what the goals of the newsletter are, how to submit items for publication, etc. Send this to new subscribers, along with the latest issue.

If a person wants to leave your subscription list, promptly take them off without complaint. Send them a final email message telling them that they have been unsubscribed, as well as how they can resubscribe, if they choose to.

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