I can't begin to tell you how important a periodical newsletter is. You see, the idea is to grab people when they visit your site. You may be getting lots of folks who visit and say, "That's nice..." -- and then leave.
But if you capture their email address, you can keep reminding them that you exist, and when they read more of your wonderful news and articles, that will encourage them to accept whatever else you have to offer. My suggestion is that you use 60 or 70 percent of your newsletter for inspirational articles and informative news -- and then 30 to 40 percent would talk about your great sales offerings. Hmmmm? Does that remind you of any newsletter you receive?
This is the way it's done by so many of my clients. (And everyone else on the Internet.) You capture a visitor's email address by having a sign-up form on your pages, especially your home page. Capture their interest, establish a relationship (through the newsletter) and they'll want whatever you're offering! Guaranteed!
Successful newsletter authors put their personality in the newsletter. Little bits of sharing what's going on, in your life, will immensely help to establish the relationship. Once you've got a good relationship with your subscribers, they'll be your best customers.
Many different packages are available for managing a subscriber list and sending emails. (You can see a list of some below....) But each has it's own benefits and it's own limitations. Let's discuss what to look for, in a newsletter subscription management system...
1) First and most important, how does the email get sent? In other words, what email server is being used? And what are the restrictions on that email server? That's not something that the particular program you use can control -- unless it uses it's own email server to send your email. (However, when using such a program, be aware that you're sharing such an email server with many others. And that email server may be blacklisted as a spam server or have some other stigma associated with it. Also, such companies tend to be very pricey.)
I suggest sticking to an email server that you control. This means one of two possibilities: either the email server that is provided by your webhost, OR (the best choice, in my opinion) an SMTP server provided by the ISP that you use to connect to the Internet. For example if you use the Charter cable Internet service, your SMTP server would be mail.charter.net
Thus, you want a program that allows you to choose which email server you're using.
2) Next, what happens if the Internet connection drops or some other failure occurs in the midst of an emailing? You want a package that knows who was successfully e-mailed and who wasn't, so that the e-mailing can resume.
3) How many emails can you send at one time? This is totally dependent upon the characteristics of the email server you choose. It is not controlled by the newsletter subscription management program you use. For example, I use iPowerWeb as a webhost. But it only allow 4 emails to be sent every ten minutes. That's not much good if you're trying to send newsletter to a 1500-subscriber mailing list. So it's best to use an SMTP server that allows multiple emails to be sent. You would discuss that with the sales people, when you signup for an ISP with an SMTP email server.
4) What about subscription management? If you've ever tried to manage a mailing list, you know how time-consuming this can be. When a person signs up for your newsletter (or ezine or announcements or whatever) it's practically becoming a legal requirement that you send a confirmation email asking the subscriber to confirm that it was really him/her that used this email address to subscribe. Then after confirmation, they need to get a Welcome letter with inspirational comments about your wonderful newsletter.
And their name/address has to be entered into the mailing list database.
Who's going to do all that? You? By hand? I did that for a couple of years with my newsletter -- and it got old very fast. My recommendation is that you use a subscription management program that does it all for you -- automatically.
5) After you send a newsletter to the mailing list, that's the time when you get lots of Remove Me emails or Change My Address requests. The best subscription management programs put a couple of links at the end of each email, so that subscribers can do all this, themselves -- without you having to do anything.
6) A couple of small points: when a subscriber signs up (or unsubscribes,) do you want to know about it? Most good subscription management programs allow you to configure the program to turn this facility on or off. And what about importing any email addresses that you already have, into the database for your subscription management program? Make sure it's easy to do this. And that you can test your import data before actually importing into the database (so that you don't royally screw up the database.) One last thing: what do you do with a bunch of emails in your database that never confirmed their subscription? Look for a way to send an email ONLY to all your unconfirmed subscribers (asking what's up?)
Yes, I've been describing a Max List subscription management program that I have to offer. Max List handles all the subscription sign-ups, changes and remove-me's automatically. You just put a sign-up page on your site, and voila! You don't need to get involved with list maintenance -- which can take lots of time without an automatic system like Max List.
All you need do is create your newsletter each month (or whatever period you choose) and then fill in a form, and push the Send button to send it out to all your subscribers. Couldn't be easier!
It's All Automatic
With this Max List package, we simply setup a small Subscribe form on your home page (or all your pages.) When the visitor hits Submit, everything is taken care of. The subscribers' email gets added to the subscription list, an automatic Thank-You letter is sent (which you setup when you install Max List) and when the user gets the email, they must click on a link to confirm the subscription. But it's all automatic.
Need an example? Check the subscription request on this page. Naturally, I use Max List with Web Wise News.
It's so very sweet! And I know how hard it can be because I've been doing it "by hand" for years -- and this package automates everything.
Here's Some Other Programs
But I'm not the only one writing such scripts, and in this Web Wise Newsletter, I always let you know about other choices and options you have. Here's a list of places that you can investigate, too.
Oh, by the way, if you want a program that turns newsletter creation into simplicity itself, I suggest you click here. You can create a newsletter on your website -- without having to know anything about webpage editing. Or how to publish webpages.
Copyright © 2004-2005 Web Wise News
by Vidya Ishaya
(also known as Burton Smith)