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do email newsletters and e-blasts actually work?

It's a question we're often asked - do email newsletters actually work?  After all, it takes time to put together a good newsletter and can it bring you the return that you need to continue to be successful.  Well, in a nutshell the answer is yes.  A good email newsletter or eBlast should drive traffic to your website, open your portfolio to new customers and to keep your name alive and fresh in the minds of your existing customer base. The newsletter should be informative, and have a range of information that is both useful and stimulating to your recipient.

Email newsletters can be sent as HTML or rich text, ensuring that images and branding is retained and that your recipient is familiar with the chosen look for your marketing materials.  There are several reasons why having an email newsletter should be considered.  Firstly, it tells your customer that you know what you are talking about - you are sharing information, hints and tips with your readership that is of benefit to them and will help them ultimately be more successful. Secondly, it maintains a presence with your customers.  How many times has a customer purchased something from you and then you never hear fromt hem again?  The email newsletter helps you stay ever-present in your customer's mind.  When then  need a replacement product or refills or to place another order for more product - are they going to simply Google another company or click on the email that you sent this week with your details?

So what's involved?

The most critical part to your email campaign is your mailing list.  Your mailing list is a list of your customers that have subscribed to your email marketing and want to stay informed and receive updates from you. And this really is the critical thing - email marketing, especially good email marketing, should always give the customer the option to opt out and stop receiving your news.  Companies that don't allow for opt in and opt out marketing are opening them up to a whole lot of trouble.  If you send consistent emails with no way for the recipient to unsubscribe then you are effectively spamming that person.  That gets you and your website domain blocked easily.  It's also bad etiquette.  Everyone should have the option to choose whether they receive your messaging, so help them by providing a simple one-click to unsubscribe option.

Your mailing list needs integrity too - one of the most common ways for mailing lists to get messy is when you do the 'global export' from your email address book and stick the list in your email marketing campaign list.  Your personal email and company email for that matter will also contain several addresses that definitely won't want to receive your newsletters and e-Blasts.  Think of the number of service technicians, software updates and order receipts you have in your inbox.  Do you think that customer service at your hydro company really wants to know about the latest offer on tanning that you have?  Probably not.

Following your mailing list, you have to have something to say.  And this really takes a bit of thought.  After all, your marketing should promote your products and services.  You don't want the newsletter to simply be a 'hey buy now and we'll give you a 10% discount' as it will  lose all of the readership for those recipients that either don't want to make a purchase right now, or simply aren't interested in that product or service at this time. Combine information with product and avoid hard sell techniques.  We're all busy and when you're constantly hit with 'buy now' messages it's too easy to either unsubscribe or simply dump the message in the trash. Have something informative to say, link to other articles and media on the web and share information with your customers. If your product has been part of a study, share the results, let the consumer decide for themselves whether they want to buy or not. Use a combination of ligh-hearted humour and tone and formality. If your tone represents you as a person or business all the better. If your content is succinct, easy to read and interesting it will have more success.

Dump the techie!

It's so easy to put in a whole load of information about the technical specifications of your product.  Think of it this way, when was the last time you saw a car ad that started with the mileage and economy?  They all start with the happy driver, family going about their day-to-day business, and the enjoyment that driving the vehicle can bring.  They don't start with stats and safety info! And neither should your newsletter articles.  They should be informative and in layman's terms.  We're not all technicians and stats are often difficult to read and understand.

How to get started

Getting started with eblasts and newsletters is quite simple, first decide on what you want to say - which articles are you going to include?  Are you going to have any graphics or special coupons or offers, and prepare your text thoroughly. Next, you need to find a method for sending your newsletter.  most newsletters and eBlasts can be sent in HTML format, allowing for the inclusion of text and images and branding your newsletter so it is received by the customer with your brand. There are several mail sending websites out there, including Constant Contact and Mailchimp, both highly regarded subscription based services.  Beware though, they may challenge how you got your mailing lists if they suspect you have purchased a mailing list.  These services also charge a monthly fee or a fee per number of emails sent out, and this can get expensive if you have a large mailing list. If you use a CMS such as Drupal, then the mail sending ability it built in, and there are no fees associated with sending.

Get your design company to design a layout and build it in HTML with your text and images.  Fresh Creative inc can help you with this service if required. A number of test emails should then be sent to see how the final email is received.  Different email clients such as Outlook, Gmail, Mac Mail and others will render the final email slightly differently, so it is important to use standardized code and ensure the email is bench tested before final release.

Once your email is created, load it into your mail sending application and schedule the send.  Some email sending is throttled so not all emails will be sent at once.  if you send several thousand emails in one blast then there is a good chance your email will be marked as spam and your domain may be affected.  Simply throttle the number of emails sent in a single transmission to a lower number, perhaps 500 to 1000 at a time.

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