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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Email Marketing and Design

When it comes to email newsletter marketing for small businesses, there are several areas to consider such as design, monitoring results, software packages and outsourcing or in-house production. Let's take a look at each area:

Design is tightly tied to the success of email marketing. You want to keep it simple so as not to overwhelm your recipients, but you also want it to look professional. You can have your newsletter appear as an HTML website or in text like a typical email. As you might imagine, the later is usually far less expensive.

The rule of three is a simple guideline to follow. Keep your design to three topic areas of interest for each newsletter. Each area should have a title and a short 2-3 sentences about the full article located back on your blog, website or other online area. Make each compelling and easy to get to.

Monitoring the results of your website is important as they can tell you what people are interested in, who's reading the newsletter and even automatically send a preselected auto response email based on the action the reader took.

Many times the email newsletter software you select will determine which tools you have available from a design and statistics standpoint. The two common software packages my company uses are Aweber and Constant Contact. Aweber is typically used for clients who don't have a need for the visually appealing, while Constant Contact is used for those who wish to include more graphical design concepts. Aweber has a great auto-responder feature as well.

After you've done all your research or maybe even before, you'll need to decide if you want to manage your own email newsletter or turn to a marketing firm for consulting. I've personally managed an email newsletter for a former employer and will tell you it's very time consuming. But if you don't mind a few extra hours in front of the computer every month it can save you a lot of money.

The best advice I can give you in this area is don't stretch yourself beyond your means. If you're not comfortable with the software or writing newsletters, it will show and you're recipient will know it! We have a little saying we go by here: "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, try hiring and amateur!"

In email newsletter software, consulting and design you truly get out of it what you put in... regardless if it's time, money or both!

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