A well-designed, easy to read, and interesting electronic newsletter can build a customer or organizational member base. It keeps families in touch around the world now that our earth is becoming a global society. Here are helpful tips on how to write an electronic newsletter.
There are many sources of inexpensive or free software that can be used to develop a newsletter. Besides, it is now very easy to take, download, and edit personal pictures. You can also find free graphics, fonts, and artwork to enhance the newsletter on the Internet.
Why Should you Have a Newsletter?
A newsletter is an inexpensive way to communicate with members, potential and current clients, friends, and family. And, you can include address information, sales, and product information or announce new products and even new babies! If your newsletter is entertaining, contains fun facts or useful information, your “customers” will look forward to hearing from you weekly or monthly. You may want to start out once or twice a year until your clients help you build your base, your stories, or information.
What Software can I use?
You can start out with a very natural newsletter using a word-processing software or a specialized newsletter software. Choose a template (e.g., Word, Publisher) and limit your pictures and graphics, initially. Here are some sites and templates to look at for ideas. In Microsoft Word, go to Help on the Index bar and look for templates. If you have Microsoft Office, look at Publisher, which provides templates for newsletters. You can also go on the Internet and do a keyword search for “Free Newsletter Templates.”
Think About Marketing and Internal Communications
I know this is business jargon, but it applies to developing new businesses, friends, members, clients, or relatives through genealogy. If you are building a customer base, it is important to include an electronic newsletter as part of your marketing strategy. Do you have a new product? Include some customer testimonials about how effective the product has been. Put a 10% coupon in your newsletter for a first-time purchase. Are you building an alumni association or a membership group (e.g. Siamese Cat Lovers)? Include helpful articles about alumni who have a good story to tell or who have accomplished a significant fundraising effort. Or, include advice on how you trained your Siamese cat how to stay off the dining room table. Interesting and helpful articles attract readers.
They will begin to look forward to getting the newsletter on a timely basis. At the same time, you are building a client email list. Send the newsletter for free! Include a section that allows new people to sign up for the newsletter to broaden your mailing list and customer base.
Your client base can also be all the relatives in the Curtis R. Smith family. Use a newsletter to help you uncover family genealogy and new relatives by starting with your first ring of relatives, who pass on the newsletter to even more family. It will be surprising to find out how many new “distant” relatives you have.
Editing and good writing come in as an important aspect of newsletter production. Your newsletters need to be written well and interesting. Also, the punctuation, spelling, and grammar must be error-free, especially if this is a business product. Use a second or third set of eyes and professional editors to read the materials and improve the writing so it is clear, compelling, succinct, and fun! Make it a point to ensure that each of your readers will learn at least one new, exotic fact or find a new product to try after reading each of your newsletters.
Grab the Reader’s Attention Immediately
Your electronic newsletter has to have a subject heading that stands out so the reader knows to open it when it comes. Our electronic “noise” has increased significantly, and it is hard for individuals to sort through emails and other information. So, in the subject, write a clear title and keep it the same each time you send out your newsletter. Example: February 2009 Newsletter – Siamese Cat Lovers, or Fabulous Fonts – February 2008 Newsletter or the George Elliot Literature Group – Newsletter, Spring 2009. As you build your electronic newsletter, add color and graphics to grab the attention of the reader. Have a comment column, a writer’s circle, or ask members to write columns or articles for the newsletter.
Build a Volunteer or Paid Support Base
If you have loyal members, many will work for low-cost rates or volunteer, depending on the type of newsletter you have. Create a base of editors, writers, proofreaders, artists, and photographers. But remember to use a professional editor for every newsletter, especially those that are in the business of marketing products. Nothing turns off a client more than poor vocabulary, spelling, or errors in prices or product descriptions.
Move from Email to a Web Page
You may start with a newsletter sent through email as an attachment as you build your client base. But it can become a website with product descriptions and a virtual shopping cart for purchasing. Or, you may need to charge a subscription fee or newsletter fee to build your organization.
The bottom line in marketing your organization through a newsletter is to start slowly. Provide interesting information in every newsletter. Involve many individuals in developing your newsletter to build capacity and ensure that it is professionally (well) written. Of course, it is always best to consider using an outside professional editor who has the training to check for clarity and a compelling use of the English language, to ensure that the writing is error-free. They can also provide advice on how the newsletter appears to the reader and if it is interesting and attractive.
Associations and membership groups should involve a team in putting together a product that your reader looks forward to receiving and reading every month or quarter. Your best evidence of success will be a growing email address base.
Originally posted 3/31/2009 and happily updated 11/15/2017. Thanks for reading!