Building Your Small Business with Email Newsletters Part 2

Yesterday we discussed the advantage of an email newsletter as a cash generator.  Remember Bob Negen’s statement, "A good email newsletter can generate cash at will and the larger the database, the more cash you can raise."  He’s absolutely right but there’s a catch.

A newsletter must contain news.  Otherwise it’s a sales letter and your customers will soon get tired of it and unsubscribe.  Or worse, they’ll just hit the delete button every time and you’ll have no idea that they’re not reading your material.  No one would watch an all-commercial TV network and no one will read an all-ads newsletter.  But like a great TV show, people who enjoy your newsletter will be more receptive to the ads that support it. 

So….you’ve decided to take the plunge.  Yesterday we asked the question "Who are you going to send your newsletter to?"  There are two more questions you have to answer:

  1. How do I distribute my newsletter to my customers?
  2. Where am I going to get my content?

We’ll look at number 2 tomorrow.  Today we’re going to look at the tools you need to get the word out.  The first thing you need to know is that you can produce and distribute an email newsletter using a word processor and a basic email program.  It’s not all that difficult.  Click here for a short tutorial on how to send an email blast using software you probably already have.

But to do a consistent, regular mailing, you will probably want to explore a number of web sites and programs to automate the task.  Some of the more popular tools include Constant Contact, Icontact, AWeber, and Vertical Response.  It’s possible that your current POS system includes database features, too.

A good newsletter program does more than just send multiple emails.  Most provide templates that you can use to create your newsletter.  They also have tools that help you manage your database.  If you want customers to subscribe from your web site, they provide a link for your site that automatically adds the person to your database when they hit "subscribe", much like the "Get Email Updates from MYOB" link on this page.  All of the tools mentioned above charge you by the month with the exception of Vertical Response who has a pay-as-you-go setup.  All of them offer a free trial but be careful.  Once you set up your database during the free trial it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to lose the work you’ve done when the trial runs out.  It’s the computer version of the "puppy dog close". 

One feature you may want in your email tool is called "autoresponder".  Here’s how autoresponder works.  Let’s say you want to send a "welcome" email message immediately after someone subscribes to your newsletter.  Then, after a week goes by, you want to send a follow-up message.  An autoresponder does that for you automatically.  You can set up follow-up messages for other events too.  Whether this is a service that you would use is up to you, but if you do want it, make sure your chosen provider offers it.

The bottom line is that you can use a third-party app to run your email marketing program with very little effort on your part. Check out the websites listed above and check out what each one has to offer.

Now all you need is some interesting content.  We’ll look at that tomorrow.

By the way, there’s an interesting discussion on email newsletters on The Podcast Sisters, Episode 56.  Check it out.

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One Response

  1. Very good series about eMail Newsletters. I agree with you in every point.
    Just for sending out the newsletters I would recommend straight away using a professional autoresponder service. Aweber would be my #1 choice there and it is also the mostly used in internet marketing, followed by getresponse, I would say.

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