Email newsletters are a great way to build an audience and gain potential customers.
In fact, it turns out that email subscribers are more loyal, and buy more, than blog readers or RSS subscribers.
But how do you set up an email newsletter?
Get an ESP
The first thing you’ll need to do to set up your email newsletter is to get an ESP. That means an email service provider. I (and many other bloggers, like Copyblogger and Problogger), use AWeber for this (aff link). It only costs $1 for the first month (so you can try it nearly for free).
Do NOT use Outlook. Please. It’s really easy to mess up and forget to bcc everyone. Then, you’ve compromised your entire list. Also, with Outlook you have to add (and remove) people manually, and you can’t track stats (more on this later).
Create a sign up form
You’ll need a form for people to fill out to sign up. AWeber has templates with lots of different colors, images, and backgrounds. You can just pop one onto your site (or you can customize and make your own). Keep it simple. Just a name and email address will do. The more information you ask for, the lower the sign up rate will be.
Be specific about what subscribers will get
The form should explain exactly what people will get (a newsletter, an ebook), and how often they’ll get it,
Spell out exactly what information they will be receiving and why they should sign up to get it. Will it be real estate investing tips? Help avoiding procrastination? Or advice on buying “green” products?
Make sure it’s worth their while (not just yours).
Offer an incentive to sign up. If it’s an ebook, add an image of the book, and some bullet points about the content. If it’s a newsletter, tell them about some of the tips they’ll be getting.
Say thank you
Once they’ve signed up, send them to a thank you page. If you’re using AWeber, they’ll ask for a double opt-in. That means subscribers have to confirm that they really want to sign up. This cuts down on spam.
The thank you page should do three things:
- confirm they just subscribed
- remind them that they’ll be getting an email, who it will come from, and what the subject and content will be
- ask them to go to their inbox and click on the link, add your address to their inbox (so you don’t end up in the spam folder)
Welcome new readers
Set up an automatic message to welcome new readers. Make sure to welcome them, and send them the link to the ebook (if you have one). Include a sample newsletter (so they get immediate gratification, and a better idea of what to expect. I also send a follow-up a few days later, asking for feedback.
Over to you
Do you have an email newsletter? What do you use it for? Sending people to your blog? Product info? Coupons/discounts?