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How to use newsletters

It’s great to get website visitors, but what you really want is to create a loyal band of visitors who come back to your site repeatedly. Out of the hundreds of sites people will visit, how do you guarantee they’ll remember yours and come back? One great idea is to start an email newsletter.

Your first step when keeping in touch with your website visitors via a newsletter is to capture their email address. This means you will need an external mailing-list manager to manage the list of addresses you’ll acquire.
There are a number of email-list managers out there; AWeber and MailChimp are the major players. MailChimp is great for starting out as it is free until you get 2,000 subscribers, providing you don’t send out more than 12,000 emails a month. (It also has a selection of delightfully juicy-looking templates you can use for your newsletters.) However, AWeber has the more sophisticated tracking tools of the two, which you might find suits your needs better—especially if you can see your list growing large quickly, at which point the price difference becomes negligible.

Email service provider options

Here are a few well-known email marketing services; the one you choose will depend on your needs and your budget:

Both AWeber and MailChimp have plugins that allow you to integrate your sign-up form into your WordPress site (AWeber Web Form Plugin, MailChimp List Subscribe Form). Both allow you to deliver your blog posts automatically to your readers by email, as well as send out newsletters
as often as you like.

Playing by the rules

When sending out your newsletter you need to observe email etiquette and stick to the rules.

  • It’s important not to sign anyone up to your email list without their agreement.
  • Never trick your readers with misleading subject lines.
  • Your email should display a real address.
  • Let them know how they can ‘opt out’ of your list—and act on ‘unsubscribe’ requests promptly.
  • You need to make sure you adhere to the rules laid down by the CAN-SPAM Act.

Use a dedicated email account

Don’t just email people from your regular email account—you’ll find it incredibly difficult to keep track of subscribe and unsubscribe requests once you get any number of subscribers. You will also find it really hard to prove people actually gave you permission to add their email address to your list if you are challenged at any point. You really don’t want to be accused of spamming.
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