Whether your organization is a nonprofit, a startup or a thriving business, if you don’t have an e-newsletter, you need to start one!
Why You Need an E-Newsletter
E-newsletters are excellent tools for reminding your clients why they take advantage of your organization’s product or services: announcements of special promotions and events give you an edge over similar organizations; coverage of news that may affect your clients conveys the ability to anticipate and respond to their needs; and linkage to your social media pages encourages interactive engagement.
For example, if you run a nonprofit that provides low-cost services to breast cancer survivors, your e-newsletter will remind them of special events, provide timely coverage of new developments in breast cancer treatment, and encourage readers to check out and comment on your organization’s blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages.
Choosing a Hosting Service
If your organization plans to design the e-newsletter on its own, there are a few great hosting services to choose from. For those on a limited budget, you’ll want the hosting service to be free. Check out MailChimp.com, which offers professional-looking e-newsletters that are free as long as your mailing list is under 12,000 readers. MailChimp is extremely easy to use and offers both premade, customizable templates in a variety of designs, and for advanced users, the ability to craft your own e-newsletter from scratch using HTML code.
For those organizations with a bit of money to spend, try ConstantContact.com, a fee-based site similar to MailChimp in user-friendliness but offering a much wider and more sophisticated selection of designs to choose from. Again, you can customize a template or create your own e-newsletter from the ground up.
Finally, if your organization’s budget allows it, consider hiring a graphic design firm to create a truly original, completely customized e-newsletter. In terms of the website design fee, having an e-newsletter that perfectly matches your company’s branding is worth the investment.
Building Your Mailing List
You can build the mailing list for your e-newsletter by having a physical sign-up sheet available, or offering the option to sign up on your organization’s website. If your website requires registration, this is an optimal time to promote signing up. Be sure to never add someone’s email address to your mailing list without permission.
You can add each mailing list recipient individually, or, if you have a large list, both ConstantContact and MailChimp allow you to import an Excel sheet.
Timing is Everything
You can work on your e-newsletter at your convenience, and then schedule it to be mailed out at a specific time. Generally, avoid sending it out on Monday, as it will likely get lost in the beginning-of-the-week shuffle. Same goes for Friday – many people are already in weekend-mode. Studies show e-newsletters get the highest open rates when sent out on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
Both MailChimp and ConstantContact keep track of each e-newsletter’s open rate and click rate (how many times a reader clicks a link) and compares it to the average of your past e-newsletters and the average for your general industry (i.e., nonprofit, medical, tech). Take note of which subject lines earn the highest open rates, which links get the most clicks, and if applicable, which content inspires responses via social media.
Use these guidelines to create and maintain an e-newsletter that will take your client engagement to the next level!
This guest post was written by Michelle Deaven a marketing enthusiast who enjoys blogging about everything from the way to create an e-newsletter to getting the best website design fee.