Releasing (and managing) the beast

E-newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your people and your clients (Read What’s so great about e-newsletters?). But putting out your e-newsletter regularly – and managing your subscriber list – can feel like releasing a beast with the potential to consume you… and your valuable resources.

The fear of releasing a huge, uncontrollable beast is the most common reason not to start an e-newsletter. But unlike print newsletters, it doesn’t need to be a major production or expense.

Producing and managing your e-newsletter in-house may seem like the best solution, but there are always hidden costs (especially staff hours) and subscriber lists tend to grow.

Outsourcing the writing can save you (and your staff) hours of nutting out articles, or avoiding doing the e-newsletter altogether. And using a regular copywriter (…shameless self-promotion) means they’ll soon be coming up with ideas relevant to your internal or external audiences, and producing your enewsletter will be their priority.

Using an external vendor to manage your subscriber list is also very cost effective. It has the added advantage that their system is easy to use and you won’t hyperventilate (or call in the zookeepers) every time you go to hit the send button…

Vendors’ systems manage almost everything for you for a very low monthly fee. Free templates are usually provided, so you can customise your e-newsletter with your corporate logo and colours.

Vendor packages generally include:

  • Subscribing – auto-send welcome emails with a double opt-in (confirmation) facility
  • Unsubscribing – auto-sends confirmation and removal from database
  • List – auto-manages and reports on bounces, adds/removals, change of details, etc
  • Distribution and formatting – html and plain text options
  • Statistics – tracks opens, deletes, links followed, etc in html versions
  • Templates – free templates or design options
  • SPAM compliance checks on each issue
  • Sending – immediate or scheduled sending

We use Vision 6 for The Buzz, and love it so much we recommend it to all our clients. Constant Contact is a USA-based vendor that also comes highly recommended.

Whether you decide to use the DIY or vendor option, allocate production management to one staff member and regularly review your e-newsletter formula.

Most importantly, be patient. E-newsletters work over time, so don’t expect an instant return on your investment. The key is to bring it out regularly, tame the beast and enjoy the ride!

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