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Also known as “eNewsletters,” email newsletters are a form of direct mail sent by an organization on a regular or semi-regular basis. An email newsletter may include updates on an organization, tips and interesting facts about the industry, or savings and special offers. Most email newsletters feature an HTML layout which includes hyperlinks to a landing page. The task of writing the content of an email newsletter is typically assigned to a web copywriter, while a designer creates the layout. Alternately, there are services online such as Constant Contact® which will automate the design process using email templates once the text and images are provided.
Whether or not the email newsletter is actively selling a product or service, marketing is always the main motivation behind sending email newsletters. Even non-corporate organizations such as not-for-profits and schools can use an email newsletter as a means of promoting their initiatives and keeping their organization top of mind with recipients. Recipients of an email newsletter are typically compiled from a database of people who have “opted in” to receive updates related to the organization, its products or services. The organization might compile this list themselves from their clients, stakeholders, or other associates, or they might purchase a bulk email list of opt-in recipients from an email blast service. If the recipients have not consented to receive such updates via email, then the email newsletter is a form of spam.
The content of an email newsletter typically follows a certain layout which is dependent on its purpose. Email newsletters that are meant to provide a general update and open up communication between the recipient and sender usually include a greeting in the introduction from the head of the organization or the editor of the newsletter. The intro is usually followed by a table of contents which may feature the same chapters in each newsletter, such as sections for interesting facts, employee of the month, or games. An email newsletter that’s meant to encourage readers to click on anchor text to drive traffic to a landing page might begin with a catchy title followed by a special offer or incentive. These types of newsletters usually include a hyperlink at the bottom that gives recipients the chance to unsubscribe or “opt-out” of the newsletter.
@Melonlity -- great points and here's something else to keep in mind -- make sure to provide regular newsletters that contain useful content. If you develop a newsletter that provides useful information to your readers, you are for more likely to get visitors than you would be if you have a lot of spammy, marketing content.
As for providing regular newsletters, resist the temptation to publish too often. Establish your publishing frequency early on and resist the temptation to publish sooner than you regularly would. Why? People get a lot of emails, so you want to both set a time that readers expect your email but not overdo it. Publishing to frequently annoys people and you might find "unsubscribe" notices coming
in at an alarming rate.
One more thing. Keep that writing punchy and to the point. If you want to "tease" to more in-depth articles on your site, that is preferable. People tend to skim emails, so you want to provide enough information to interest them but not so much that they get irritated and disregard your newsletter completely. Besides, that's kind of the point of an email newsletter -- to provide enough information to get people to come to your site.
A great use for an email newsletter is to offer subscriptions to it to everyone who visits your Internet site. There are a lot of great HTML email services out there that will allow you to add a generous number of subscribers for free, meaning you can test out your email newsletter -- if you get more subscribers than are allowed in your free account, you can upgrade to a paid account. In other words, if your email newsletter isn't successful you aren't out anything. If it is successful, then you can probably justify upgrading to a paid account.
The great thing about an email newsletter is that the name of the game in running an Internet site is to keep traffic coming back. A newsletter will remind subscribers about your site and, hopefully, bring a regular stream of visitors to your site.
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