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Email newsletters present the enormous opportunity of being able to deliver your message on a regular basis at a very low cost to people who have demonstrated an interest in your product. The big challenge in distributing an email newsletter is generating content that will motivate prospects to open, read, and respond to your newsletter.

Newsletters that simply provide a recap of the latest products and news from the company that issued them will be read only by the most loyal customers. To reach out and influence potential buyers, you need to provide objective information that can help your prospects do a better job.

Once you get in the habit of providing valuable information that fits your company's business, you'll find it easy to unobtrusively slip in a sales message that will be likely to catch your prospects in a very receptive frame of mind.

Writing the Articles

The following are examples of useful content:

  1. How to solve common problems that your prospects might face

  2. How your prospects can take advantage of recent technological developments

  3. Industry news and trends

  4. Case studies of how other have improved their operations

The information in the newsletter should come from the experts in your company—executives, engineers, scientists, sales representatives, customer-support staff, and so on.

The problem is that these people are typically very busy. Furthermore, because they aren't experienced writers, it usually takes them a huge amount of time to produce a product that, despite their best efforts, doesn't do all that great a job of communicating.

What you need to find is an experienced writer who can extract your experts' knowledge in a short interview and then generate professional-quality copy at an economical cost.

Catching the Reader's Attention

The first step to getting your newsletter read is getting your recipients to actually open the message.

The return address on the newsletter should be a real person, and the company part of the address should be your own. Ideally, the apparent sender should be someone that the reader has heard of, such as your CEO or leading technology spokesperson. This will help to distinguish your newsletter from the hundreds of junk emails that your prospects get every day.

The subject line is also critical to getting the recipient to read your newsletter. Be sure that it explains exactly what useful information the reader is going to receive, such as “5 Ways to Reduce the Cost of Operating a Printing Press.”

Email newsletters make it easy to stay in touch with prospects until they are ready to buy.

Developing an Appropriate Presentation

Creating a professional-looking document will add to the appeal of your newsletter. An HTML document with the devices it uses to increase the readability of print documents—graphics, relatively narrow columns, large headlines, short paragraphs, etc.—is essential to stand out from the clutter. It's also a good idea to provide a text version for the small percentage of recipients who are unable to receive HTML mail.

Many people use Microsoft's Outlook, which presents the top portion of the email as a preview. Be sure that have to a headline and graphic in this area that will make it clear at a glance exactly how the recipient will benefit from reading your material.

Building Circulation

When you provide useful information in your newsletter, you will increase its readership and generate a substantial number of sales leads and even orders. That's the time to start thinking about increasing its circulation.

One of the best ways is to increase the proportion of visitors to your site who register for the newsletter. Develop an e-book (or series of e-books) that provide comprehensive and useful information to people who would be interested in your product or service. Feature this document on the home page of your Web site and in your other promotional material. When visitors click on the link, direct them to a landing page that asks them to register for the newsletter.

If possible, offer either an inexpensive incentive or a chance at a drawing for a larger prize as an incentive to register.

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Jerry Fireman ( is president of Structured Information (, a company that provides marketing communications services on a project basis.