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A Checklist

Here's a quick checklist of what your IT staff needs to know to make your organization's newsletter program successful and efficient. (For a print-ready PDF version, click here.)

Technique

Description

Offer many opportunities to subscribe

Every page of your web site should include a "Subscribe" box, even if it's just a little banner ad. Provide an option to subscribe at the end of your checkout process, and on your registration page.

Shop for new subscribers by archiving old newsletters

Archived newsletters can help generate traffic to your web site. Submit those archived pages to search engines.

Let current subscribers spread the news

If subscribers find your newsletter to be interesting and useful, a quick click of a link should let them refer their friends.

Avoid accusations of spamming

Confirm all subscriptions—particularly referred addresses—via email. If you're outsourcing the sending of your newsletters, make sure that your provider isn't featured on ISP spam filters.

Let subscribers choose between text and HTML formats

Give subscribers a choice when they sign up, and send the newsletter in the format they requested.

Track response to your HTML newsletters

The whole point of this endeavor is to drive more traffic on your site. Create a way to track HTML newsletters so you'll know how you're doing.

Provide an easy escape

For recipients who want out, make unsubscribing easy. Mention your privacy policy in every newsletter and respect the wishes of any subscriber who wants off your list.

Take advantage of automation

Set up your registration and subscription processes to collect information and dump it into your database. Let subscribers update their info on a special page (and make it easy to use). Cross-sell newsletters with multiple opt-ins.

Weigh your options carefully when considering outsourcing

Keep your email process in-house if you:

  • Have a strong internal IT team with time to learn an email application
  • Have the capital for the initial cost
  • Want to keep your data in-house
  • Have the necessary hardware and bandwidth to handle the volume

Choose a combination of outsourcing/self-service if you:

  • Want someone else to manage the IT side of the application
  • Don't mind someone else having access to your database
  • Don't want to invest in additional hardware or bandwidth
  • Don't mind paying the ongoing fees

Outsource the sending of your newsletter if you:

  • Have limited IT time
  • Have limited IT staff
  • Can afford to pay a premium for the outsourcing service
  • Are sure that the provider isn't considered a spammer

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