The electronic newsletter: Elements, Content and Registration and Subscription processes

Many businesses on the web offer a free newsletter to anyone who is interested in their line of work. An electronic newsletter, sometimes called an e-zine, is an email based newsletter sent out to a person who subscribes to receive it. It gives a company an opportunity to showcase their knowledge in their field of business and do a bit of product/service selling. It is not a company sale brochure – people will opt out of it fast if all they are getting is company sales pitches. How do you create a newsletter and how should the registration process work? Let’s walk through the basics.

Registration Process: This process is about getting a user to subscribe to the newsletter and how to maintain distribution lists.

  • A distribution list is a list of users who have subscribed to the newsletter. It can be purchased or it can be created by a business from scratch. It can be maintained in a spreadsheet program, or a database or a text file. Whether a list is purchased or built from scratch can depend upon the target audience and the cost. The list should contain all people who subscribed (even if they have since opted out) and it should contain all the information captured during the registration process.
  • The registration process (opt-in process) should be simple and could ask: whether the subscriber wants an html or text-only version, what types of information they would like to read about, how many newsletters they would like to receive and how often, which newsletters they would like (if there’s more than one option) and whether they would be interested in other emails regarding products and services or special notices
  • The unsubscribe process (opt-out process) should be available by clicking an unsubscribe link in the email. It could be as simple as just sending the email to be removed from the list (most common), or it could require the user to go to a registration page to update subscription options. The user may be asked why they are unsubscribing.

Elements of a Newsletter: The following elements should be considered when designing a newsletter:

  • Will it be in html or text format? Or both?
  • Will the email have teasers to the full articles located on the website or will it have the full article?
  • How many editions will be produced and what is the frequency?
  • Will there be special editions?
  • How will images be used?

Required elements include:

  • a link to a version on the website incase the email is not readable
  • an unsubscribe option
  • a link to change subscription options
  • contact information for the company, including full company address
  • a ‘forward to a friend’ link
  • Clear subject lines
  • Personalized to the subscriber
  • The ‘From’ field should be a real email address and not a label.

Content to Consider: The content in the newsletter should be a combination of useful information on topics the business knows a lot about and some product/service information. It should not be a sale brochure. An example of content for a newsletter for a garden center may have the following content:

  • Offer specials and discounts
  • Profile a plant, product, service
  • Profile a job, customer testimonial
  • Gardening Tips/Info
  • Upcoming events and gardening news
  • Section for kids (or a kids gardening newsletter)

The benefits of creating a great web design as well as the distribution a free electronic newsletter are numerous. Newsletters keep your company name in a person’s mind and showcase the knowledge the company has in its line of work. Be consistent on the frequency and delivery times, remember to personalize the newsletter to the user and focus on content that will engage the user and keep them reading for more.