With all the talk of social media this and Twitter that, you might find the whole concept of Internet marketing to be very confusing. You may wonder if there’s any place for older types of advertising. Worry not, for there is! Email newsletters are a great way to start dipping your toes into Internet marketing, especially if you already have an established customer base.
An email newsletter is very similar to a flyer that you’d put in a mailbox, but with a few extra advantages. First, they can be longer and more detailed than a standard flyer since you’re not limited to paper size. Second, you don’t need to worry about printing costs. You just need some sort of desktop publishing software or skill with HTML. Finally, unlike conventional canvassing campaigns, it’s very easy to craft custom newsletters for different types of clients. Here’s how to start.
The first thing you’ll need is a list of your customer’s email addresses. Without this, you can’t send the newsletter in the first place. There are several ways to get access to this vital piece of information. One is to ask for it when people purchase items off your web site. This is the quick way to do it, but if you don’t have an online store front then you’ll need to ask your customers directly. Have a signup sheet at your checkout and tell them you’re developing the newsletter. If you plan on including coupons with your newsletter, telling your customers is a great way to get them to sign up. Collect addresses for about a month so you get a good rounded list of your client base. Please make sure that you follow all applicable laws for gathering and using customer information.
While you’re collecting addresses, you’ll want to begin crafting your newsletter. There are several things to keep in mind. First, you’ll want your newsletter to look good in plain text, HTML without pictures, and HTML with pictures. Color, layout, and pictures cannot take the place of strong copy and shouldn’t try. Second, you’ll want to code your newsletter like it’s 1999. Most email clients will strip out CSS coding or render it their own way, so you’ll have to use older techniques such as in-line styling and tables to get everything to look right. Finally, get to the point of the newsletter as quickly as possible. More and more email fills our boxes every day, so attention must be grabbed quickly.
Test your design thoroughly in different email clients before you send out your first newsletter. It’s impossible to get it to look right in every single one, but hitting the three major web-mail clients (Yahoo, Gmail, Microsoft Hotmail) will cover a large portion of your client base. Again, make sure it looks good if the images or HTML are off. A very important thing to add is an easy unsubscribe option at the bottom. Many people forget that they’ve signed up for things, and giving them an easy way to opt-out can do a lot to soothe tempers. Plus, it might even be required depending on local laws.
Finally, your delivery mechanism needs to be perfect. If your list is very small, you can use the BCC (not the CC!) options in your email client. This will keep your customers from seeing everyone’s email address. However, this method can get very problematic as your list grows.
A more professional way is to use a mailer service like Aweber. Aweber can help you design everything in your news letter from start to finish, but their most useful service is their email automation. They can make sure your newsletter goes to all your clients every time and report bad addresses.
Email newsletters are a great way to dip your toe into Internet marketing, especially if you’re familiar with direct mail advertising. By keeping your message simple and direct, you can have a powerful impact on the behavior of your customers, and start the process of creating the one-on-one relationship that larger social media campaigns make. Fire up your creativity and start making some designs!