Email Newsletter Marketing: From the Trenches

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With the growing popularity of micro-blogging services and social networks, you might just think that email newsletter marketing has gone the way of buggy whips, but you would be wrong - dead wrong. Web professionals and consumers still live and die in the inbox and as a website owner, you need to know what you'll need to get in and stay in front of your email newsletter subscribers.

Email Newsletter Frequency: How often should you send? Ask yourself two questions; how often can I send and how often do my readers need or want my information? Whether you decide on a daily, bi-weekly, weekly or monthly schedule you will need to find the time to produce the information. Ensuring you will have enough time to brainstorm topics, research and write the content (in addition to your other duties) is essential to making sure you can get it sent when you say you will. The frequency of the schedule also plays a role in the type of content you develop. Should you publish once a month, your readers might be willing to spend more time with your email newsletter so more in-depth content might work best. If you publish on a less frequent basis, readers might only be interested in receiving content that is brief and be read and can be acted upon quickly. In short, your frequency should dictate what type of content you are producing.

Email Newsletter Content: I know you don't want to read "Content is king" one more time, but "Content is king." The content you produce is what will drive users back to your site - the benefit of which needs not be explained. So what kind of content works best? Only you know for sure. If you don't know, look at your own site search reports, review site wide analytics or visit services like Twitscoop.com, where you will be able to see exactly what people are talking about right now and what your readers might be interested in as well. While topics which are considered "hot" will definitely be of interest to your audience, you might also want to establish certain sections of your newsletter which cater to those that appreciate consistency. For example, what was the most frequently asked question about your service this week. How about profiling one member of your readership or something that your reading each time you send your newsletter. Not only does this help to build rapport with your audience, it's also a way to increase the number of clicks you receive.

Email Newsletter Timing: Transactional and account notices aside, email newsletter marketing is all about timing - timing for the best day to send and the best time of day to do it. Each newsletter and each audience (just like each company) is different so understanding the geographic and demographic makeup of your list is the fastest way to properly leverage your choice of time. Testing is the only way to find out for sure what time of day and day of week works best and to do that you'll need to play with the frequency a bit - just use the first few weeks or months to establish a baseline and you'll be way ahead of the game. Most ESP (email service providers) provide geographic targeting to help you identify what areas your subscribers are located. Using this information by segmenting the lists accordingly to the time you determine has the highest percentage of open rate will definitely improve the opportunity for success. 

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4 comments

RobinI 09-19-2008 3:00 PM

Let's not forget about segmenting our newsletter mail list by target market. Providing readers with the information they seek is the best guarantee they'll continue to open our emails.

MarkV 09-19-2008 3:18 PM

Robin's right. Relevancy is critical. Each newsletter should be customized and personalized so you are speaking directly to the world-view of each recipient. Segment not only on the obvious demographics, but also psychographics, past buying behavior, and so on. There are several excellent e-newsletter programs that allow nearly infinite dynamic profiling actions based on the information in the fields of your database.

FredM 09-21-2008 10:53 PM

I understand the need for specificity in send out newsletters, but being new to the game, how does one begin find sources for "excellent e-newsletter programs...". I ahve been keeping my eyes open for just that type of product, but nothing has popped into view as yet. Plus is there a comparative article or site that can help narrow down the newsletter programs to help get the best bang for the buck, in the right feature range of course :-)

-FM

Peter A. Prestipino 09-22-2008 2:30 PM

FredM, I think you're looking for an ESP. The vary greatly in scope - you might want to look at Listrak.com, the company that powers Website Magazine's e-newsletters or Campaigner.com.

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