Managing your newsletters can be an overwhelming task if not done wisely. The wisdom comes from using technology and automation. You can use special software on your server that is designed for newsletters such as Listserve, Majordomo or self sustained programs such as Icontact.
The other option is to manage the newsletter yourself using your own software. You’ll need a little more computer skills for this one but you own it and there’s no monthly fee. I recommend this second option, based on control and long term expense. Check out Mailloop
The growing trend is towards html formats which look nice and pleasing to the eye, but they are plagued with viewing problems between different email clients. No matter how much you try you never seem to get the right format for everyone. On the other hand, text formats universally work and if you still like the html look, one trick is to just give them the first paragraph and then have them click a link in your newsletter to bring them to a website that has the html.
Here's what you must keep in mind. Subscribers are not buying the look, they are buying the INFORMATION. A newsletter's true value (although style and format are important) is in the information or value each issue offers its readers. Everything else is packaging.
Here’s some basics on how to package:
Header and Footer – Every issue should include the name, date, title and contact information. Contact info is usually in the footer.
Table of Contents – This organizes and lets readers decide what section they might be interested in (usually only used for larger newsletters).
The Body – The articles and information of your newsletter.
Teaser – Cover what’s coming up in your next issue so that readers will look forward to receiving it (only do this if you know what’s coming up).
Advertising Placement – This is your sponsor or classified ad space.
Unsubscribe Statement – You must give your subscribers the option to unsubscribe in every issue, it’s the law.
Beyond the basic format, some extra pointers:
- Use dividers to separate sections (i.e. dots, asterisks, dashes, etc.).
- Use only 65 characters per line to make sure that your formatting remains consistent throughout all email clients.
- Keep your subject line consistent and familiar.
- Editor’s Section – Here's the place for your own opinions, viewpoints, and editorial comments about your subject or field.
- Eventually you'll be getting emails from subscribers, some congratulating you on your progress, others complaining about you or somebody else in the field. These can be printed as-is (with the subscriber's permission) or edited to fit your space.
- Book reviews and new product reviews. Aside from your newsletter, there’s probably many other publications out there offering information in your specific field: new books, magazines, newspapers, directories, courses, audio/visual products and, yes, maybe other newsletters. Buy some. Subscribe, read, evaluate, digest and report on them. Is there a new gadget or product that might help readers? Here's the place to tell them.
- Use your imagination; include whatever you think readers want to know. Be concise, keeping all information brief and to the point as you make every issue informative, interesting, helpful and valuable so subscribers will want to file all issues for future reference, and renew their subscription year after year.
- As far as length, 10 pages maximum. Beyond this you’re going to start losing people. Also, remember to include a table of contents for longer issues.
To your success,
"Please notify me of any new posts"