4 Easy Steps to Sending Newsletters

Over the last few months we have been testing how well emailing a weekly newsletter would work in driving traffic to our blog. I am glad to report that this system works very well. For every 100 emails sent out, it drives 45 people to the site as a visitor. We currently send out 3000+ emails a week to our customers.

So how do you get started?

1. Choose a method to send your newsletter

There are many ways to send out newsletters. The ones I found to work poorly entailed pasting everyone’s email into a BCC. (Note: email servers have rules in place to automatically reject those emails).

The most successful newsletters use an online software. I have used many different services and software, but my personal favorite is Constant Contact. They have a very easy to use interface with over 200 free templates to design a professional looking newsletter. You can even build your own custom template from scratch if you wish to keep your own branding.

2. Add a subscribe to newsletter box to your site

Now that you have picked a software, ensure that it is easy to add people to your newsletter. You do not want to manually add people to your newsletter as it is a very tedious and time consuming process.

Most softwares like Constant Contact have a wizard to create a subscribe to newsletter box. This box will automatically add people to your newsletter. These wizards will create custom code for you to place on your site with a simple cut and paste.

If you do collect emails, it is important that your newsletters are all through a double opt-in process. So when people sign-up through your site (that is a single opt-in) they should confirm again through a verification email that they do wish to receive emails (making it a double opt-in). Again a software like Constant Contact does that automatically.

3. Grab content from your site and email it once a week

I know this sounds very time consuming and is why you probably don’t do it now. A few months ago I built a script that will email you the weekly content from your blog making this step very easy. You can view the wordpress digest script and add it to your site (just be sure to rename it to blogdigest.php instead of .txt).

4. Prune and clean up your list for next time

Any bounced emails that were received should be cleared out. This will keep your list accurate and easy to manage. If you receive any notification to be removed from your list you should immediately comply with the request. I know that Constant Contact does this for your automatically.

Following these basic steps will build up your site traffic and build a strong community around your page. If you’re hesitant to pay for a service like Constant Contact, they do offer a no obligation 60 day trial. So test these steps yourself for free and see the results for yourself.

This post was guest blogged by Gary Jones from BlueFur.com. BlueFur provides Dedicated Servers in Canada like the one that runs John Chow’s site.


58 thoughts on “4 Easy Steps to Sending Newsletters”

  1. Very good post. I can’t even think of having a site today without an opt-in list. I personally prefer Aweber, but that’s just me.

    1. Gary Jones says:

      I have tried Aweber but did not like it as much as Constant Contact. You should see some of the templates that are included in Constant Contact.

      1. Ebay_Tips says:

        Does A weber’s affiliate program pay as well :-p

    2. Used Aweber in the past, solid and great service. Tho i feel more comfortable with CostantContact (and not just with their templates, i prefer customizing the template by myself).

    3. ***V*** says:

      Why do you need an opt-in list?

      V

  2. Hi Gary,

    This is all solid advice, but if you’re end goal is promoting the blog on your site, why not just push Feedburner’s Email Subscription option?

    1. Gary Jones says:

      There are 2 reasons…
      1. I can control the emails, branding and frequency. You can decided to monetize them or not.

      2. I am not sure if I trust the privacy of my email with feedburner. They have already been sold once now.

      1. Never thought of that Gary, good points. I am going to look into using Constant Contact instead myself.

        1. Agreed – Great advice, and great post! *=) :mrgreen:

      2. Yea but aren’t they acquired by google now? Don’t think google will be selling them anytime soon that’s for sure.

        But I do agree with you feedburner is great for feed optimization but anything else I’d rather leave it to a company that’s particularly great at distributing newsletters.

        Great post you got here keep it up.

      3. Very good points Gary. I must admit I considered feedburner the best option for this but am now reconsidering.

        1. ***V*** says:

          I use feedburner myself. What will you switch to?

          V

  3. Constant Contact is fantastic and easy to use service. Many large and small companies have been using it for a long time now. I am considering setting up an account with the them as well.

  4. Great info! Thank you. I will take a look at this at once! 😀

  5. BigPappa says:

    I have been using Constant Contact for quite some time now. It is about the best direct email option that I have found. However if you are going to send out an HTML email, some people with Outlook may have their HTML email view turned off. I don’t think this matters much especially if they have signed up for the email newsletter and are expecting it.

  6. Casey says:

    Great post! I don’t have a newsletter set up on my blog yet, but might consider it. What kinds of things do you send out in your newsletters?

    1. Gary Jones says:

      I send out a condensed version of our blog posts.

      That is what the script in step 3 will do is grab your post, condense them and email you the content so you can then email out to your newsletter members.

  7. I currently use Zookoda which I imagine is very similar to Constant Contact? Has anybody used both and could compare, I’m always up for a change?

    1. Gary Jones says:

      That would make a great blog post. You should do the bit of research to compare them.

    2. Gary Jones says:

      I did a quick scan of the Zookoda Privacy policy. A big red flag for me with this service is this….

      When we have co-branded, customized, private label, powered by or sponsored products and services, or when we join with other parties to provide specific services, we may share (provide and receive) personal information with them.

      1. Most companies seem to do this anyway. I’m forever being spammed by “partners” or companies I’ve told not to spam me 🙁

      2. I’ve been with them for about a year now and never received any junk (I also subscribe to all my lists to make sure subscribers aren’t getting spammed). I imagine it’s just part of the T&C that has been copied from every other T&C.

        As far as comparing the 2 services go I’ve got something lined up and I’m going to give Constant Contact a whirl.

    3. ***V*** says:

      How do you like Zookoda? Do you find having a mailing list to begin with important for retention/profit making?

      V

  8. I have used almost all of the email services, and I personally think Constant Contact is better as well. Aweber would definitely be my next choice. 😛

  9. Hi
    I use Aweber on my normal websites but I didn’t know that I could put an opt-in form on my blog.
    I take it that I would need to edit the page in html and not from my dashboard (for WordPress)?
    I will definitely investigate this further.
    Thanks verry much

    1. ***V*** says:

      I don’t use an opt-in list on my blog either. Let me know how it goes with your investigation.

      V

  10. Are mailing lists like this that common these days? They get canned by spam and have strict rules on opting in/out. Surely RSS is a good replacement? People subscribe in the same way, but read in their own time, and there’s no spam filters! 😀

    1. Gary Jones says:

      The problem is that a lot and I mean A LOT of people don’t know what RSS is or how to use it.

      Give it a try the next 10 people you talk to face to face ask them if they know what RSS is and if they use it. I will bet you that 2 or less actually know what RSS is and even fewer are using it.

      1. That’s a good point. Even some of the people I work with (and we’re programmers!) probably wouldn’t be completely familiar with the whole RSS feed thing!

        1. Hmmm, but Feedburner supports sending your feed by email – it might be clever to put a form on your site that looks like a traditional “mailing list” for these people, when they’re actually just getting your RSS feed by email 🙂

          I think I’m gonna go look into the feedburner support now! 😀

        2. The feedburner email stuff seems to work really well – I’ll be adding it to my site in the next update to see how it does 😀

          1. Gary Jones says:

            You can’t really control or monetize those emails from feedburner.

  11. Max says:

    Great tips, I will try this and see if it brings more traffic.

  12. Will Buckley says:

    Hey Gary sound advice. You have opened my eyes to other options. I currently am using aweber but will have to check out constant contact on your recommendation.

    Your comment answers are right on. Most people forget to read the fine print.

    Will

  13. KingJacob says:

    Perfect timing gary, Im trying to set up a newsletter for one of my sponsored blogger and its kinda hard.

  14. Sean says:

    Do you think we should use incentive to get visitors to subscribe? I see that you’re doing it John.

    1. Depends on the ROI in my opinion. You might need to run a trial (ie. just jump in!) to learn what the ROI is though.

  15. Thanks for the heads up on e-mail marketing. I agree, it’s a very effective thing to do.

    You’ve made me aware of that tool. Hopefully, I’ll get to a point where it will become useful to me. Until then, I’m working my ass off

    🙂

    1. Tomos says:

      Yeah it is a effective thing to do.

      Once I get more readers to my blog, and it gets more popular Im definately thinking of introducing newsletters.

  16. Shaun says:

    Ah, very nice. I’ve been thinking about doing a newsletter…not sure if I will though. You can have ads on newsletters, right?

    1. Gary Jones says:

      It’s your newsletter so you could definately display ads.

  17. Lots of people are suggesting Constant Contact – are they really that good, or are they just posting with different names to encourage us? 😀

    1. Gath says:

      Hi Blogs For Money,
      Well, I don’t want to be too cynical, but…
      * The blog post promotes one product
      * 5 links to Constant Contact – All affiliate links pointing to the BlueFur signup page (for which they get paid -“starting at $2 for each signup who sends an email campaign during the FREE Trial AND up to $50 per paying customer” – quote is from the Constant Contact affiliate info page).

      I had to re-read it to make sure it wasn’t a paid post.

      1. Word Hugger says:

        I agree. It is partially biased.

        1. PissedOff says:

          What’s with the BS ConstantContact links? This post is lame. Gary stick to hosting.

  18. *puts hand up in the air*
    Blush! 😳
    I am one of those people who don’t understand RSS. I know that I should have it on my blog but I don’t understand it or what it does.

  19. Max says:

    RSS is the hidden power behind all blogs these days….

  20. Ebay_Tips says:

    $2 a piece! I wonder how many people signed up because of this post?

  21. MrGPT says:

    Are there any free services out there 😳 ?

  22. I am using actualy some script for newsletter so I can organize everything automaticaly. Unfortunately I am lazy to send out some news.

  23. YC says:

    Sound tip – especially the one point for people who wonder how to get content for the newsletter.

    1. Yeah, kudos and thanks to Gary for providing that script to pull the text. That makes life a lot easier.

  24. Great post Gary. The number of visitors per 1000 e-mails sent really surprised me. It is a fantastic tool to encourage repeat visits.

  25. Click Input says:

    This is something I definitely need to be doing on one of my other, larger sites.

  26. Dean Thompson says:

    I use newsletter script instead of hosted services because I never trust their privacy. Think about it, your data is out of your control. It’s hosted and managed by a company which you don’t know. Of course, there are both advantages and disadvantages of using a newsletter script or hosted service.

    I am using a newsletter script and I know that my data is secured, I have full control over my data and getting the same (sometimes more) statistics from my newsletter script. I think there are two disadvantages of using newsletter scripts:

    1. Your server needs to handle the emailing activity and you need to manage that
    2. You need to design your newsletter templates by your own mostly.

    I am using Oempro from Octeth which is quite good in both feature list and reporting. But it’s commercial. For the ones who are looking a free newsletter script, I recommend phplist. It’s free, don’t wait support service or professional assistance.

  27. BigMeep Joe says:

    Is there any advantage to using one of these services as opposed to PHPList with a WordPress plug-in if you are just sending a plain-text newsletter? Other than offloading the email processing to the service provider?

  28. Aditya says:

    I think for all those who want to send newsletters, there is nothing much better than aweber currently. Mostly because it automated all the process of collecting email ID , name and sending emails. You can also set up autoresponders

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