In our Bplans.com newsletter, we’ve been publishing a series of articles from iContact about email marketing. This first in a series touches on the basics of having and running a newsletter for your business.

iContact’s Brandon Milford focuses on the basics of using a newsletter to reach out to your customer/client base. Brandon Milford is the Vice President of Marketing for iContact, based in Durham, NC, and he writes about Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Design on his blog at www.brandonmilford.com.

iContact allows businesses, non-profit organizations, and associations to easily create, publish, and track email newsletters, surveys, blogs, autoresponders, and RSS feeds. We are thrilled to be able to share their expertise with you and give you an opportunity to use their best-in-class email marketing software for a special 10% off the lifetime of your account.

Your Newsletter: The Basics
by Brandon Milford, VP of Marketing, iContact

When designing your newsletter always keep in mind the amount of time you can expect your reader to spend viewing your newsletter. Everyone today is information hungry, but always in a hurry. How you display your content within your newsletter can capitalize on this assumption.

What Information Should I Include in My Newsletter?
Obviously, this will depend on your business and the audience in which you are marketing, but here are three recommendations:

  • Announcements: Include recent information about your company and/or products that impacts your readers. For instance, you can include a link to an upcoming trade show where your company will be exhibiting or perhaps a seminar that your company will be sponsoring.
  • Article: Include an article that relates to your products or services and helps your readers. It is also a great idea to develop a resource library that contains additional articles and provide a link for your readers so they can find more information on similar topics.
  • Case Study: Provide an example of a client who has achieved great results while using your products or services. This will help build credibility with your readers. Again, provide a link where your readers can view additional case studies.

Those are three key items to include in your newsletter. If you include these, you are keeping your readers up to date on recent information about your products or services, including an article providing value on topics affecting them and by providing a case study you are proving to your readers that others are achieving success by using your products or services.

Making Your Articles Easier to Digest
Think of how we read newspapers; the same holds true for how we read material on the Web. We skim headlines looking for something that interests us and only then will we begin reading an article. We also stop to view photographs and any visual cues offering greater insight as to the information held within an article. I see far too many articles within newsletters that are very long (greater than 900 words). When writing your article try to keep it at 800 words or less and break each section into smaller, easy-to-read blocks with bolded headlines over each section. This will encourage your reader to skim your article and stop at each section they find interesting. If you are finding it impossible to trim your article simply find a good point within 800 or fewer words and provide a link to a webpage that contains the article in its entirety.

Sharing Your Newsletter with Others
Always give your readers a reason and a means to share your newsletter with others. By providing valuable and relevant content to your subscribers, they will be inclined to share this information with others by forwarding your newsletter. Email marketing software, like iContact, provide a “Forward-to-a-Friend” feature that inserts a link within the footer of your message allowing your readers to easily forward your newsletter. The goal is to obviously reach out to as many people as possible by providing valuable, relevant, timely content and an easy way for your readers to share this information with others.

Learn more about iContact and sign up for the special 10% off for the lifetime of your account at www.bplans.com/icontact

‘Chelle Parmele
Social Media Marketing Manager
Palo Alto Software

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