Posted Saturday, January 15, 2005
It seems like everyone and his dog is publishing an ezine these days...and from what I've seen, the dog's may be better than most. So why -- if there are so many ezines out there -- do you need to publish one? The answer is simple: If you have a website where you are selling goods and/or services you need to establish an opt in list of visitors to your site.
The majority of people who visit your site won't buy from you the first time, but by offering them a chance to sign up for your ezine you get a chance to extend your communication with them, establish a "relationship," and possibly turn them into a customer sometime down the road.
Right about now you're scratching your head saying to yourself "but I don't know the first thing about publishing a newsletter; where do I start?" That's where I come in. I'm going to lead you down the primrose path and show you exactly what you need to do and just how to do it.
Step #1) The first step is to decide on a title for your new ezine. You may want to incorporate your business name into it or choose something related to its theme. For example, if your company name was "Bob's Automotive" you may choose something like "Bob's Automotive Press". Speaking of themes, your ezine's theme needs to relate to your site. If your site is a pet supply store then your ezine should be on animal care and tips, or training. If your site sells your services as an online marketing consultant, your ezine should center on teaching people how to market and promote their own websites.
Step #2) So now you have an ezine name and you know what the theme is, you need to decide where your newsletter will live. This is often referred to as list management and your best bet is to source it out or check with your web host and see if they supply this service as part of your account. Don't think for a minute you can manage an ezine with just your email program. A list can grow to a substantial size and you need to prepare in advance for this from the very beginning.
If you're trying to save money, I'd highly recommend you sign up with one of the many free list host services that are available. They work great, and make it easy for people to subscribe and unsubscribe at will. The only trade off to using a free service is the advertising they will place at the very top of your ezine for the privilege of your free account. But remember, they are hosting your list for free so they've got to get something in return, too.
Here are some list hosts you may want to try:
Yahoo Groups: (http://groups.yahoo.com)
My personal favorite and the one I use for managing all three of my ezines. I've been with them since the old days when they were called Egroups (before Yahoo bought them out). The service works great and is free in exchange for a banner ad they place at the top of each issue. You can also have the ad removed for a nominal fee. Make sure you set your list up as "moderated." This keeps outsiders from posting to your list, which is something you'd only want if you were setting it up for two-way discussion.
Cool List (http://www.CoolList.com)
Another free mailing service similar in functionality to Yahoo Groups mentioned above.
Another online leader when it comes to list hosting, it is free to set up. Easy step by step instructions and they have excellent customer service.
Group Mail Software: (http://www.Infacta.com/)
If you are daring enough to want to download some free software to manage your list you won't find anything better than Group Mail. It's an excellent tool for handling and mailing to large groups of people. There are also some free handy plug ins you can download that will increase its versatility.
OK, so now that you have an ezine name, a theme and a place for your list to live, what's next? Getting subscribers; you need to make sure you add a subscriber sign up box on every page of your site to encourage sign ups. Some people resort to adding a pop up box, but I wouldn't as most people say they find them very annoying. If you do decide to go the pop up route, create one that only pops up when the visitor exits your site.
As far as how often you should publish, you want to shoot for two to four weeks. If you go longer than one month between issues, your subscribers will forget who you are and if you publish weekly it may become overkill. But whatever you do, pick a publishing schedule and stick with it. Consistency is key. If you say your ezine will be published on the 7th and 23rd, then you need to do your best to get your ezine out on those promised dates.
n Part 2 of this article we'll discuss formatting your ezine, and where to get content. In part 3 growing your subscriber base and selling ad space. For some more help you may want to download this free e-book "Ezines: A Complete Guide to Publishing" from (http://www.web-source.net/free_ebooks.htm) or "Website and Ezine Promotion Made Easy" which can be found at (http://www.linkcounter.com/go.php?linkid=183805)
Publishing an ezine is an essential step in any online marketing campaign. By following the simple directions I've outlined above you'll be well on your way to building your very own opt in list -- and that my friend, is worth its weight in gold.
About the Author
Merle (http://www.EzineAdAuction.com) "Where some of the BEST Deals in Ezine Advertising are Made" Buy & Sell Ezine Ads in a live auction setting! Publishers sell off your excess inventory and Buyers pick up some Fantastic bargains. Go now.