Many organizations are replacing their hard copy, dead-tree-edition newsletter with an email publication. Emailed newsletters have the benefit of requiring fewer resources, going out faster, reaching a wider audience with less effort and being easier to correct if a mistake slips in. However, many of them end up being ignored just as much as their physical counterpart. Every interaction designed for a brand, whether print, online or face-to-face, should be something that advances the brand's purpose. If the audience's reaction to anything you send out is 'what was the point of that?' or worse, no reaction at all something has gone wrong. There are, thankfully, several tips available for making sure that even a newsletter can have the desired effect and reach audiences with the message you want them to get. Tip #1 - Have a Clear Purpose, and Stick to it Your organization has a purpose, and your brand has a purpose. It therefore follows that whatever you publish under the aegis of either should support that purpose. The most important thing to remember about your audience is that they are people. It is quite likely that they have jobs, interests and activities entirely unrelated to anything you wish to send them. In general, people are quite good at discerning what things are worthwhile and speak to their interests vs. things which are a waste of their time. The quickest way for your newsletter to enter the latter category is for it to be pointless. When putting together a plan to launch or publish a newsletter, stop and ask yourself what purpose it needs to accomplish. If you can't answer in less than 10 seconds, it is time to re-evaluate. Make sure that the newsletter provides strong content related to your primary goal as a brand and understand exactly why the newsletter is needed to get this content to the audience. Tip # 2 - Combine Sign-up With Registration People are also creatures of habit, and will often keep on features simply because they're offered. Make sure that the signup form for your organization automatically includes the email newsletter as part of the package, so that registering signs the audience up for the newsletter as a matter of course. If they dislike it, they can choose to opt out later, of course, but having it in front of them from the beginning means it is more likely to get to them, and thus they are more likely to read it at least once. Tip # 3 - Protect Yourself from the Spam Patrol Spam protection is a huge deal on the web at the moment. It isn't just a matter of disliking clutter or being irritated at receiving the same mindless emails again and again, either. Many spam messages contain viruses, malware, adware, spyware (and probably other wares that haven't been named yet, but are sure to be). Spam filters protect against these threats, and are native to most email clients now. Actual security suites like AVG or Norton provide even more aggressive email monitoring, and many newsletters find themselves getting censored out in the mess. Take some common sense steps to keep your newsletter from this fate. Make sure your title isn't too generic. Including words like Free or As Seen On are sure to trigger most filters. Put a dynamic, creative title in the subject line instead. Don't overuse HTML in the body of the email, as this can also trigger a spam filter. Avoid writing in all caps, and other mistakes. Common spam-triggering mistakes can be easily researched on the web, and a little research can go a long way in getting your email to its destination. Tip #4 - Brand Yourself Remember that integration is the key to all branding success. Put your brand or organization name at the beginning of your subject header. Always take the opportunity to cement your content with your brand, so that people associate the two instinctively. This, of course, ties back strongly to having a clear and valuable purpose for your newsletter. People associate negative impressions even more strongly than they associate positive ones. Put out content you are proud to put your name on or dont bother. Tip #5 - Be Welcoming and Inviting When someone signs up for your email newsletter, send them an email congratulating them for this. Let them know about the newsletter's purpose and schedule of delivery, and thank them for their interest in your product. This reinforces in the customer's mind that the newsletter is a feature they can look forward to, rather than surprising them with it sometime later, when the act of signing up has gone out of their head. In the welcome letter, consider inviting them to sign up for a paid product. This could be an expanded service offered by your site, or it could be your signature product. Don't dominate the letter with it, because a sales pitch isn't always welcome. Simply make it a matter of mention, to further associate your brand with your product. A Last Word Always consider the option of not publishing a newsletter for a particular period. If nothing has happened that would warrant a newsletter, don't send one because you have to.' Never send a letter out of habit or out of course, but always for a purpose. Forcing the issue is one of the surest ways to get your newsletter disregarded and trashed.
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