W hen it comes to marketing on the Internet, creating and maintaining a Web site is just the first step. "It's vital that an electronic newsletter or discussion list be part of any sophisticated Web marketing effort," says Richard Hoy of The Tenagra Corp. (http://www.tenagra.com), an Internet marketing agency in Houston. "[The Web is a] passive medium; visitors have to type in your address to go to your Web site. Unless you remind people you're out there, you just have to hope they remember to come back."
Tenagra uses its own electronic newsletter to supply short capsules of special-interest information to its 110,000 subscribers, and to stimulate returns to its Web site for more in-depth information.
You can send e-mail newsletters using virtually any ISP. If your list is small, just several hundred people or so, you can send it out on your own at little or no cost. But if your list is as large as 5,000 subscribers, for example, you may want to hire a list-hosting company, which could cost several hundred dollars a month or more, depending on the level of service you need.
Following are Hoy's suggestions for creating a successful e-mail newsletter:
- Collect subscriber e-mail addresses on your home page rather than on a page buried deep in your site.
- The shorter your registration form, the more likely it is to be completed.
- When creating your newsletter, place hard returns after every 60 characters or less. Keep it in plain text or you run the risk of it being garbled.
- Make sure the newsletter goes out with some frequency.
- Record the date when each person subscribes to avoid unfound accusations of spamming.