My employers don’t let me out much and especially not to talk to our software users. Fair enough too after last time.
I came back to the office afterwards and changed stuff.
I’d made the mistake of asking our users about the very expensive printed and posted newsletters we’d been sending out for years. They’d never seen one. That is because, to save money, we’d been sending one copy to the top person in each office for circulation. Apparently economics isn’t the only area where the trickle-down theory fails miserably.
I convinced the company to convert to an email newsletter to be sent to every single user. This spread the good word to a much wider audience and saved an absolute bundle in the process.
Newsletters Are a Force for Good
Newsletters build a sense of community in their readers. They encourage customer loyalty, they entertain and they can even be used to pass on news.
Newsletters sent by email cost a fraction of printed and posted hard copy items. As the entire process takes less time, the writer and designer have more time to concentrate on the making the content beautiful, useful and fascinating.
So all technical communicators should be creating and sending email newsletters.
Who Wants Email Newsletters Anyway
According to the ($US 499.00) 2015 Fact Book of the DMA (the Data-driven Marketing Association in the US), “72% of consumers prefer to be contacted by email, followed by postal mail (48%) and text message (19%).” See here https://www.emailonacid.com/blog/article/email-marketing/2015-email-trends-retrospective/.
From this we can glean that
- world-wide consumers prefer email newsletters to printed ones and
- US Marketers can’t add to 100.
Spam – the Problem
You may have a couple of thousand contacts who should all receive the newsletter emails. If you send the emails yourself, all at once, the email clients of the recipients will identify the emails as spam, even though they are not.
Spam – the Solution
You will need to employ a service to send the email newsletters for you. That way the email clients will recognise them as legitimate. There are plenty of companies who will send out the emails in such a way that they are not considered spam. They may even help you to manage your email list. Some supply a range of newsletter templates too.
I use MailChimp because it is inexpensive and the software is a joy to use. But there are plenty of other providers. Check out MailChimp here http://mailchimp.com/.
Microsoft Outlook – the Problem
You’ll want to send your emails coded in HTML so that they look splendid and professional. Your greatest hurdle will be the world’s favourite email client Microsoft Outlook.
Standard HTML coded web pages that look fabulous in any browser can appear amateurish in Outlook. There is an entire industry built around making HTML emails look passable in Outlook.
Microsoft Outlook – the Solution
If you want a white paper outlining the display issues caused by the various version of Outlook, check out this free download here (https://www.emailonacid.com/blog/article/email-development/tips_and_tricks_outlook_07-13/). Handily, it also includes the coding solutions.
People like me prefer an even simpler answer. Klutzes, idlers and non-HTML-gurus (like myself) can visit Email on Acid (https://www.emailonacid.com/). There they can download a number of highly configurable responsive email newsletter templates. They make email creation a breeze and they make any sender look truly professional.
Eye Candy for the Reading Pane
The industry-standard open rate for email newsletters is 15%. The standard click rate is less than half that.
You’ll do better than the average if you manage two aspects. Firstly you need a compelling email subject line. Secondly, you need to make what the recipient sees in the reading pane attractive on first glance.
The Email on Acid templates take care of the latter. You, dear reader, will take care of the former.
My latest newsletter was sent using the above recommendations. There were 3,500 recipients, 31.2% of whom opened and read it, 8.5% clicked on a link to at least one of my videos and watched.