Eight Quick Steps to Create an E-Newsletter
Vendor, Design and Content
1. Find a vendor for design and distribution.
I recommend ConstantContact because it generally costs less than $100 per month, and many companies already use it (so you may eventually help your clients create their own e-newsletter). In addition, the program is compatible with major search engines such as Google so your e-newsletter won’t be relegated to a spam folder.
2. Create a pleasing design.
ConstantContact offers many types of templates to assist in the design process. These templates let you choose any color, add pictures and create separate sections for an introduction, articles and boilerplate. I recommend templates with two columns so you can differentiate promotional boilerplate from other articles.
3. Choose categories for distribution.
ConstantContact integrates with your Outlook address book so you can create different categories and then decide what categories to include or omit in the distribution process. For example, as a PR firm, my organization chooses to omit the press from my e-newsletter distribution list because it could annoy busy reporters and editors.
If necessary, you can also use ConstantContact with an Excel file for a distribution list, but this requires manual updates for each issue.
4. Draft the content.
The beginning of your newsletter should contain a short one or two-paragraph letter introducing the topics to be covered in the current issue. If you are using a white background, it’s a nice touch to sign your letter with an electronic signature.
The second section of your email newsletter should include two vendor-neutral articles of interest to your readers. They should be about 300-500 words each.
Finally, you should include a promotional boilerplate describing your company and services. It should be placed in a separate column to set it apart from the vendor-neutral material.
5. Use links to drive traffic back to your company web site.
Each of the two articles should stop after a few paragraphs, at a suspenseful point, with a link titled, “To read the rest of the article, click here.”
6. Create new web pages on your company site for the continuation of each article.
The new web pages should contain the articles in their entirety and be indistinguishable from the rest of your company web site. For non-technical types, this can be accomplished by using the Adobe program “Dreamweaver.” It costs about $300 but is well worth the expenditure because it lets you add web pages for any purpose, in addition to an e-newsletter.
7. Create archives for future issues.
The archives should be a “landing page” with a list and links to each e-newsletter. The newsletters should be sent about once every eight weeks to maintain sufficient visibility.
8. Track your distribution results.
ConstantContact captures the email address of everyone who clicks on your e-newsletter, both to open it and access internal links. It also maintains your mailing list by deleting people who “unsubscribe” and transmissions bouncing back due to an inactive or incorrect address.
Creating an e-newsletter may seem a daunting task at first, but once it’s established, future issues can use the same template and design, and you have one more tool to both promote your organization and assist your colleagues, clients and prospects.