Building up a contact and customer base is vital in running a successful business, but only if you use it correctly. One way of utilising your contact database is sending Email Newsletters to increase interest, read rates and click throughs and ultimately increased sales. This blog explains what Email Newsletters and and the benefits of sending them.
Generally the database of customers and potential customers would be sent paper based newsletters, catalogues, brochures, sales information and any other documents by post with the intention of increasing sales. This of course becomes a timely and costly exercise to print and post each item, and on a regular basis the cost and time can be quite significant. So why not replace, or at least compliment, your offline marketing strategy with an online email based strategy too? With the right tools your paper based newsletter, catalogue, brochure or anything can easily be created for online viewing and sent direct to the recipients inbox saving a lot of time and money. If prepared and sent correctly, delivered direct to their inbox can increase interest, enquiries and ultimately sales.
What is an Email Newsletter?
An email newsletter is the general term used for emails sent that are created in web page style with text formatting and colours, images, hyperlinks and even tabular layouts such as columns and rows. Basically, making your emails look like a web page. The email does not have to be a “News-letter” but can be anything you like, although they are generally used to send News information to subscribers that may include new products, special offers, company news, sales information and more.
Why Should I Send an Email Newsletter?
Web Page Style Emails to Increase Interest
The intention of the web page format is to make the email a lot more exciting than standard text. Having something like a “10% Off My Product” in big, coloured wording with an attractive image and hyperlinked to a website is generally more appealing that the message in plain text. An appealing Newsletter means it will be read by a lot more people, which in turn could increase more interest and ultimately lead to more enquiries and sales.
Brand Awareness and Recognition
The newsletter can also be designed with any logos, images and colours that your business uses and thus connecting your newsletters to your brand. This in turn increases brand awareness and recognition with your reader base.
Automated Subscriber Management
The right newsletter system would also include subscriber management in that subscribers can easily and automatically subscribe to newsletters via a form on your website, then also easily and automatically unsubscribe from future newsletters by clicking on a link in the email. No manual time need to be spent adding and removing contacts from any newsletter list, it is fully automated.
HTML Editor to Create the Layout
The right newsletter system would then also include a user friendly editor allowing you to easily create the formatting you need with buttons such as Bold, Italic, Underline, Insert Tables, Insert Hyperlinks, Insert Images and a lot more. Many of them even come with pre-designed templates to choose from to create the newsletter with little effort.
Open and Click Through Statistics
Email Statistics should also be included which would let you know who has read what and when and how many have opened the email allowing you to constantly improve your email newsletters to maximise read and click through rates.
Therefore the main advantages of using a newsletter system would be increasing read and click through rates with interesting web page style emails, increasing your brand awareness, providing an easy to use editor to create the newsletters, automated subscribe and unsubscribe management and email statistics allowing continuous improvement.
How Do I Create and Send an Email Newsletter?
Although it is possible to send a web page style newsletter using an email client like Outlook, it is not advisable due to the limited features this system provides. It is not meant for mass mailing nor has any of the features listed above. A dedicated newsletter system is usually required to send such newsletters with all the features needed for true newsletter and contact list management.
There are a few types of systems that can provide this service:-
There are many providers out there that offer a newsletter service hosted on their own servers. You can sign up on their website, create your contact lists and subscribe forms, import your contacts, create your newsletter and send. The advantage of hosted solutions are you do not need to have your own system installed on your own server, so no need to get involved with any purchase, download and install. You can create the account quickly and easily and get started right away. Usually no setup fee is required (or a low fee), but a monthly payment is made based on the number of emails sent. The draw backs are the systems limit the number of emails sent with a tier pricing plan. The more emails you send the more it can cost. If you have thousands of contacts it can become very expensive, but with only a few contacts the cost can be reasonable. Another draw back is the supplier companies would be quite large, with a large customer base, so would offer a support service comparable to all large organisations with no flexibility for a tailored service to suit you.
A few popular hosted solutions would be:-
- No software to purchase or setup
- Quick account creation to start sending
- Lower cost for low number and less frequent emailing
- No tailored solution for your needs
- Large organisation, many customers to support
- Higher cost for many and regular emailing
2. Self Hosted
Self Hosted newsletter systems are available to purchase, download and install on your own server. The advantage is you are not limited in any way, you can send as many emails as you want as often as you want with no increase in cost. This is because its your server, and if your server can handle the resources then you can do what you want. Usually a one of purchase is required for the software instead of a monthly fee based on the number of emails. So in the long run this solution would be more cost effective because no additional payment is required based on the number of emails sent. The draw back is of course the download and install. Generally a web developer or similar would be required to do this for you. You will also be responsible for managing your own server rather than relying on the newsletter provider. This therefore means there would be no or little support offered on using the system, other than from the software provider.
One of the leading Self Hosted Email Marketing systems is:-
- No email or contact list limits
- Long term low cost
- Higher initial software costs
- Install the software yourself
- Possibly less support
3. Managed Newsletter Systems (Hosted/Self Hosted)
Some companies offer a mix between the above options, offering the customer the best of both worlds. The software would be hosted on the suppliers server and not your own, so therefore it is a hosted solution, but will offer a “managed” service whereby the pricing and service will be tailored to your needs. The service and support offered would be comparable to most smaller suppliers that operate on a strong customer and supplier relationship. Generally the supplier should be a web developer or similar company that can provide a tailored solution.
We offer a managed solution:
- Tailored service and pricing for your needs
- Good service and support
- Supplier deals with software setup
- Both setup and monthly cost
What Extra Features Should I Have?
Before you choose your software, spend some time researching all the additional features it provides to make sure you can maximise its use for your newsletters and run an effective email marketing strategy. I will save the explanations of the following features for other blogs but make sure your system has the following features:-
- Auto Responders (What Are Autoresponders?)
- Split Testing
- Custom Fields
- Bounce Processing
- Spam Checker
- Inbox Previews
- Send to a Friend
Do your research, and find a suitable newsletter tool for your needs at the price right for you. One you have found it get to know its features and how to use it. Run a lot of tests. Lastly use the wealth of information online to learn how to create effective newsletters and when to send them to increase open, read and click through rates.
Feel free to contact me if you want any help finding the right solution for you and utilising it effectively.