The 'quick' newsletter myth

 

Sending email newsletters should be easy. You bang out an email and then send it to as many customers as you can, right? It turns out that broadcasting regular and effective email newsletters yourself can require resource-sapping attention to detail and some super-user level technical skill.

Once you have sent newsletters a few times from your desktop email software, unless you are only planning for a small mail out, it becomes increasingly apparent that a more structured approach is needed. I'm going to have a quick look at what's involved and then offer three potential solutions.

Before you can get started you need to methodically gather all the names and relevant details of the people who will be on your subscriber list - or, more likely, lists plural. You will need to maintain and update these lists and allow for people to unsubscribe.

Then there is the email itself. If you plan to send your email newsletter from your desktop client, whether it be Windows Mail, Apple Mail, Outlook or Thunderbird, etc and you want anything much more representative than a regular text style message then you will probably need to discover the dark art of email flavour HTML, or find someone who knows how to do it.

Another issue is that you are unlikely to want want your recipients to be able to see who else is on your mailing list. You will therefore send it out bcc'ed and either put a known email address in the To box or let the email client auto-fill it with text such as 'Unknown recipient'. Either way, it will look a bit hammy.

Your message is going to be much more effective if you can personalise some of the details, such as the recipients name - something that is not easy to achieve from your desktop.

Finally, it would be very useful to know how your newsletter or bulk email did. For example, what proportion of people actually opened your message?

So what choices are available to you to tame the beast? Here are three solutions, all of which beat creating newsletters with Windows Mail.

Third-party email marketing solutions

Email marketing solutions such as Mailchimp, Dotmailer and e-Shot (this should not be taken as an endorsement of those products) provide a one-stop solution to the email newsletter issue. You upload your list of subscribers to their website, create an HTML email using their online email editor, purpose built for the task, click send and then use their reporting engine to manage the results.

Advantages: No lead-in development cost, choice of some off-the-peg templates or your own DIY email template design.

Disadvantages: Loss of assured privacy of your customer data, ongoing fees, need to prepare and import all subscriber data yourself, susceptible to spam traps, choice of limited off-the-peg templates or your own DIY email template design.

Integrated newsletter service on your website

If your website is built around a content management system (almost all Gorilla Guide websites are) then you have the opportunity to get a web designer to integrate a newsletter service right into the website. This has the key advantage that you can encourage your website users to opt-in to your newsletter and then add this information automatically to your newsletter subscriber list. The other facilities this will offer are similar to the third-party solutions described above.

Advantages: Full control of your customer data, automatic inclusion of your website visitor information, low running costs.

Disadvantages: Initial development costs, DIY email templates, need to prepare and import some subscriber data yourself, susceptible to spam traps.

Bespoke newsletter service

This builds on the integrated newsletter service described above. Simply put, why get involved in managing your customer data lists and designing and writing newsletters yourself when you can get a web consultant to arrange to have your integrated newsletter service managed for you. This isn't cheap, but is much more cost effective than failing to get regular newsletters out because you do not have the time to do it properly or muddling along yourself when you have a business to run.

Advantages: Regular high-quality newsletters, minimum need to manage the process, prepared reports, higher delivery success rate, full control of your customer data, inclusion of your website visitor information.

Disadvantages: Higher overall costs.

 

If you want to know more about how The Gorilla Guide can help you with your newsletters, get in touch with us. We can provide a tailored newsletter solution at an affordable price that offers an excellent return on your investment.