June 2002 Newsletter

Developing Your E-Newsletter

***** Quick Picks

Frustrated by junk email sent to you or your employees? This is a good report on how to handle your email. Now a book.

[link no longer valid]
What happens after your email newsletter message leaves your machine. You need to know because every customer you fail to reach is a sale you may fail to make.

[link no longer valid]
Thinking about renting an email list of architects or engineers?

[link no longer valid]
PC World Article on Search Engine Wars. As the search engines push to make money, how will the validity of the results be affected?

***** The 4specs Perspective

Want to send your latest information to over 10,000 architects by email every month?

Don't even think about it.

This newsletter is based on my 2 years of sending out a monthly e-newsletter to about 6,000 manufacturers of "specified" construction products.

I assume you are frustrated by the junk mail that you get. One manufacturer told me they no longer looked at their email and there were over 900 unread messages in their mailbox. The first link above is a good presentation of managing emails and spam, both on an individual and corporate level.

If you do not like unsolicited emails, consider the architect who has 8,000 manufacturers wanting to be certain their products are specified. I assure you that your product emails will not be appreciated by 99% of the recipients. Continued unsolicited emails may damage your company image in their eyes. They may be angry enough to remove you from their next spec.

On the other hand, an e- newsletter can be very productive when sent to your reps, dealers and subcontractors who use your products. They probably want to know the latest information about making money working with your products.

Here are my key thoughts and experience learned from the 4specs monthly newsletter on architectural marketing.

Use the right email program:
Next month I will discuss how to email the newsletter and not give your competitors your email list. There are inexpensive specialized programs to email your newsletter. Our suggested programs will merge data into the email and send them out with their information. This newsletter with your statistics is an example of an email merge with our database.

Be consistent:
If you start a newsletter, send it every month. Monthly is important as the recipient will remember that it comes each month and is less likely to delete your email as SPAM. Note how I use "4specs Newsletter" as the sender.

Develop your own email list:
Develop the list by asking for their email address. Ask for permission to send the newsletter. I am on a few email lists, and appreciate the special fare announcements that Southwest Airlines sends me every month. Do not send out unrelated messages to this list.

Have a consistent theme:
Announce new products or new uses. Announce new reps or dealers, and new people at your firm.

Keep it short.
CSI was emailing their Leadership Newsletter and the attachments averaged 750,000 bytes. When traveling, I use a dialup connection, and this newsletter took about 4 minutes to download. This is way too long on a dialup connection, when you may be in a hurry. I understand my complaint about their very large email attachment was not the only complaint received.

Set up a special mailbox:
You will want to separate out the newsletter traffic from your day to day email traffic. When I send out the 6,000 emails (in batches of 1,000 or so) I get about 150 bounces each month. Bounces are the messages that do not get there. You will find that tracking the bounces and changing or deleting the email addresses takes time, but is necessary to maintain the integrity of the email list. When someone responds to the email, it may go into the bounce folder, so keep an eye on the special mailbox for people looking for additional information.

Redirect to a web page:
The best approach to include photos and images is to have a link in the email to a special web page that contains the newsletter. The email sent contains a brief description of the content of the online newsletter. This is the approach now used by CSI to send out their Leadership Newsletter.

Low readership:
Don't be put off by a readership under 20% going from the email to the online web-based newsletter. Not every one will visit the online pages every time to see the latest news.

Track the users:
After being sent to the 4specs advertisers, this newsletter is sent to non-advertisers as a marketing tool for 4specs. This newsletter has become a major source of new advertisers. The actual newsletter is not sent, just a teaser with a link to the newsletter on 4specs server. I embed in the URL a code that tells me who actually visited the web page for more information. This can help you follow up on reps not reading the newsletter! We do this tracking through a redirection script on our Apache server, using PHP.

Have an online archive:
Have copies of the newsletters online, along with a brief summary of the topics in the newsletter.

Expect your competitors to get a copy:
So, be careful about what you say that is confidential. In several cases when I was selling products, I knew about competitive changes before my competitor's sales reps did as my information channel was faster.

Provide a way to opt off the list:
And do it. Nothing could be worse than having your ISP or web server terminate your account for SPAM because there were complaints. I have a record of every manufacturer who has requested not to receive the newsletter. and will not send them a newsletter unless requested.

Be prepared for lots of virus attacks:
I get about 2 viruses sent to me every day. As your email may be saved on the user's computer, a virus will send you a friendly message that can attack your machine if not prevented. I use Norton's Systems Works and keep the virus definitions updated.

Next month, how to send the newsletter.


Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
Contact us