There are a variety of different formats that email programs will allow these days, but for the most part people use three main formats for ezines. Most ezines are available as HTML, however there are still some that only allow text messages to go through. The good news is that these are few and far between these days.
An ezine that is HTML should be compatible and they are much more professional looking. They do not have any special formatting requirements and your newsletter will be displayed similar to that of a website in your subscriber’s email program. It is a good idea to have the newsletter in both HTML and text in case there are subscribers who are unable to open HTML or may have problems with it.
The great thing about HTML is that you can use color and graphics with easy. However, it is a good idea to ensure that graphics are condensed well and there are not too many. Some email programs restrict the downloading of images because they can harbor viruses. Also, too many graphics make it difficult and timely to download. Prior to sending your newsletter, it’s a good idea to test it out and ensure compatibility.
You also have the option of using text email messages that offer a link to a PDF version of your newsletter. This format is rarely used because it is an extra step to click on and download the PDF and many people do not have the time, nor are they willing, to take that extra step.
When testing your emails, it’s a good idea to test for compatibility in the following email programs:
• Outlook Express
• Microsoft Outlook (Especially 2007, as it does not always allow graphics to be downloaded without permission from the email owner)
Developing Your Lists
Building your customer base is the first thing you need to focus on because you need somebody to send your newsletters to! There are several places where you can begin advertising your website to get people to go there and sign up for your ezine.
Forums, Discussion Boards, and Social Networking Sites
There are tons of directories, forums, etc. that will allow you to advertise your ezine by creating a listing through them. You need to provide a short description along with your ezine. This is the most important part of listing your ezine, because you need to be descriptive in what your subscription offers. You need to have at least three to four different descriptions that you use that will cater to different audiences. You also want an eye catching heading.
At the same time, you need to write in such a manner that addresses the reader. You do not want to simply describe your ezine or business, but you want to explain how you are helpful. You must address the needs of your potential customers.
Once you have your descriptions ready to go, you will want to begin listing your ezine everywhere that you can. You will want to list it on forums, discussion boards, websites and other social sites. You also want to list it in areas that will attract your target audience, so be choosy about where you list to ensure you get the best subscribers you can get.
You also want to aim your ezine listings in places where your competitor lists. You will want you subscription offer to be more attractive to theirs. Do some research to find your competition and then counteract whatever they do. You may even want to begin receiving their newsletter so that you can use it against them. Be sure to list your ezine everywhere that your competitor is listed.
This is a very effective way to begin building your subscription base. You will want to form alliances with your competitors and ensure that you both benefit. You can cross-market in many ways including:
• Exchanging content
• Exchanging advertisements
• Exchanging products
One way to form an alliance is to endorse your competitor if they will endorse you as well. However, it is important that you endorse a good ezine that is worth it. Don’t just do this to build a relationship, but ensure that it will be profitable in the long run.
You can also swap advertising space. Publish your competitor’s ad if they are willing to publish yours. This should be done free of charge for each other.
Swapping content is good as well. Offer to publish one of their articles if they will publish one of yours. These types of exchanges can be very useful and you are able to provide unique content to your readers that they might have not seen otherwise. You can also use this content to help build your credibility. Make sure that you include a signature or resource box at the end of the article.
Word of Mouth Advertising
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, word of mouth advertising is great and effective. The best part of it is that it’s free. Word of mouth advertising is able to create a marketing buzz like no other. This is especially true on the Internet because people are able to send things to each other with a couple clicks of the mouse. They can forward your ezine to friends and family and before you know it, a whole family may be subscribing to your ezine, along with all of their friends!
Tell-A-Friend promotions are great and you can also use Tell-A-Friend scripts on your website that will encourage people to send the site to their friends and family. On your Thank You Pages, it’s always a good idea to include a Tell-A-Friend script.
Managing Your Lists
Building your list is going to require some effort on your part. You have to ensure that the process of adding new subscribers is easy and efficient. You also need to be able to administer your list easily. It is highly recommended that you use software for this and automate the process as much as possible. There are several steps you can take to keep your subscribers happy as well including:
• Acknowledge all requests that are sent by subscribers. Even if they want off of your list.
• Greet your new subscribers with a Thank You message. This helps to build confidence and trust.
• Offer various options to sign up. They should be able to sign up on your website or through email.
• Update your lists as often as possible. Try to keep bad addresses to a minimum.
• Provide excellent customer service and always be polite.
• Automate as many processes as possible.
It won’t take long to build a list, but once it is over 50 people there is no way that you can handle that kind of mass mailing with your own email account. This means that you will need to invest in a service to do this for you. The first place to start is with your hosting company.
Many hosting companies offer some sort of list server and mail server that will allow you to easily send out your newsletters to your subscribers. This may be an additional fee that you pay with your hosting. The next place to start is with a paid list server. Here are a few to check into:
• Listbox: Offers a variety of packages depending on the number of subscribers you have.
• SparkList: Set-up fee of $25 for a list less than 2,000. Minimum monthly fee of $50. $1 per 1,000 names.
• BigList: Set-up fee of $50. Monthly rates starting at $40 for less than 500 subscribers. $120 for a list between 5,000 and 10,000.