Part of the
Kenno's Blog series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, You Can Learn Series
Updated: November 30, 2007
So you want to send out an email
newsletter. What should your email newsletter campaign contain? Do you want new
information? Do you want to tell you customer what you have done the last week
or month? What format is best for your information, HTML or regular text? Do
you include a video or photos? Do you only include information about your
company or do you have links in the email to other relevant companies? Do you
include an article that is not in your website but is exclusive to your email
I am going to analyze two emails that I receive on a regular basis. One of the
emails I receive is from a recording studio known as
Apocalypse Cow authored by Theresa Brooks and the second is from the
SEO expert, Jill Whalen, at High Rankings
Advisor. It will be an interesting conversation, because Jill sends her
emails out just as regular text. Theresa works with many bands doing sound
recordings and she sends her emails out as HTML. Which is better regular text
Music is Played on Samantha Who
Let's check in with Theresa. She is the marketing guru at Apocalypse Cow. Music
that she and her partners, Jeffrey and Dan Brooks, have created have been on American
Idol Rewind, DR. 90210 and recently on Samantha Who on ABC. They have a
thriving recoding business of bands that come in on a regular basis between
writing, scripting, adding music and perfoming their own songs.
Theresa authors a mostly monthly newsletter. She gets a lot of input from the
partners and then puts together her latest and greatest. She uses an HTML
format, though she could utilize more html. She keeps the html fairly simple
with the company logo at the top then simple html for the rest of the
What Goes into the Content of the Newsletter
What does the Cow, as they affectionately call themselves, put into the
newsletter as content? They will start the newsletter with a headline called
News. This is normally news just about the Cow. The happenings in the studio.
This is where they tell us about any recent podcasts they have recorded and
uploaded to iTunes. Then they have a little sales message about gift
certificates as the last newsletter was delivered just before the Christmas
shopping season begins.
Next they tell us about all the cool new gear they are placing in the studio.
This month they put in BLUE microphones from Blueberry mics. They mention why
they purchased the mics and why you should be interested and excited about the
recent purchase. This is a very subtle sales message. If you record music, you
might want to see the new mics and find out how you will sound singing your
latest hit song into these little babies. They also added a Small Fry Burn
Now you have to understand that Theresa and the Apocalypse Cow doesn't have a
huge mailing list. They mostly send it to bands that have recorded with them
and then people who have opted in to receiving it. So, the newsletter is going
out to bands that might be interested in coming back into the studio. Nothing
will fire up a band than knowing who is in the studio this month. What would
you think if you knew your friend or even competitor was tuning up for their
next release and you hadn't picked up your guitar in over 3 months?
Section Titled, Who's in the Recording Studio
The next section of the emailed letter is Who's in the Recording Studio.
For the nonrecording person like me, it is an interesting few lines about who's
in the shop and what kind of music is being played. They don't spend a lot of
space on this section. Probably on average 4 lines per group. But, think of the
benefits. If you are in the studio recording, this will make you feel huge. It
gives their current customers a lot of warm fuzzies. Former customers really
have to think, "I want to be back in recording." I am guessing that is where
the fun and joy of playing music, writing songs and performing really happens.
If you aren't live then the studio is the next best place to be.
Each of the bands usually have their own website describing where they are
playing and info about their music. Theresa is nice enough to give a link for
the band's website in her newsletter. A great touch and again, gives them all a
warm fuzzy. If you haven't been in the studio lately with your band you are
thinking, hey my songs and website should be in that newsletter. A little
motivation to get back into action and finish up that album you haven't
Funny Cow Jokes
Before they give their ending credits, Apocalypse Cow, will tell their funniest
cow joke. These are usually pretty corny. The cow joke in this month's issue?
"What do you get when you cross a cow with a crown?" Want to know the answer? I
am not going to tell you. Check out The Cow
To end the newsletter they provide the necessary information to contact the
studio. THey tell readers how to get booking information, new sampler CD and
further studio contact info. They add the customary wording at the bottom on
how to remove your name from the email newsletter.
High Ranking Advisor Newsletter
Another email I receive regularly is the one from Jill Whalen of High Rankings
Advisor. Jill's newsletter is not formatted in a fancy html. It is simple text
based email. You open it up in your Outlook or email reader and you are ready
to read. You don't have to download images. You don't have to wonder what the
image you can't see is supposed to look like. It is just text. Personally I am
a big fan of this format. You can get the same results with text as you can
Now, Jill obviously has a different clientele than Theresa. Jill's customers
are business people looking to bring greater traffic to their websites. Jill's
company is a Search Engine Marketing firm and her clients want information on
how to increase search engine responses. What can they do to get a leg up on
their competition? What information can Jill provide them that will give them
the critical edge to be in the top ten of a search on Google instead of page
Jill begins the newsletter by giving a little menu. The section is titled, In
Today's Advisor. I like this move by Jill because it allows you to scan
for articles of interest and then if you are in a hurry you can read the items
of importance to you and then finish the rest when you have more time. After
that section she will give a little introductory comment.
Questions from Readers
The High Rankings Advisor newsletter will then usually have a question from a
reader or fan of the website. The question is of a serious nature and can
sometimes be a tough call for a novice to answer and they want the answer of an
expert. After the question Jill will spend quite a few paragraphs answering
that question. It is always an in depth answer and you never feel like your
time was wasted by reading through the newsletter.
Sometimes Jill will just comment on industry news or tell you what to watch out
for in the markteplace. I have quoted Jill before on this site because she is
such an industry insider. Jill will allow some web masters to actually post the
question and answer on their own websites. THis is great for Jill because it
gives her more credibility in the marketplace and some good link juice.
Do You Allow Advertising in Your Newsletter
The next section Jill handles quite well. She allows advertising on her
newsletter. This is definitely a win / win situation. The advertiser benefits
because Jill writes engaging articles. Since she uses a plain text format it is
hard to tell where the article ends and the ads begin. Plus, this is very
important. The ads are highly relevant to the newsletter. The ads you see are
perfectly suited to the audience receiving the news.
There always seems to be a guest writer of some kind. This particular
newsletter has another staff member at High Rankings, Jesse DaCosta giving
feedback on a new product that is well suited for the SEO community.
Then Jill might have another ad and she will give us her, High Rankings Forum
Thread of the Week. This is an opportunity for Jill to drive some
direct traffic to her forum. She will place an engaging question on the
newsletter and then will ask you for your opinion. She is very good at giving a
little personal information each newsletter. Not so much that you feel
overwhemed, but enough so you see her as a friend.
With a comment or two about the latest convention she is speaking at and then
she will close with all the business end of a newsletter. How to reach her.
What you can expect if you email her and how to get off the list.
Develop a Friendship with Your Readers
Here is a quick analysis of emails and how to handle them so you get repeat
traffic. You keep former visitors interested in your company and interested in
you. You develop a friendship with these people and they become lifelong
friends. And isn't that really the best way to do business as a friend?
What is the best strategy to use, HTML or plain text? You know it doesn't
matter. Your initial setup for an HTML will cost you in time. Some email
programs will not open the images when the letter is first viewed. This will
cause the letter to look bad. If the user is on dial up, this can be
frustrating for the user because then they have to log back into the internet
to get the images. When all the information is there, the letter will look
great and you can do some exciting things with HTML formatting. If you set it
up as plain text it won't take long to write it and format it. There won't be
images to download. But, you won't have as much flexibility to do fun
formatting and make it look exciting to read. If you are selling clothes, books
or lawn mowers, I would recommend using HTML otherwise feel free to plain text.
Should you have advertising from other companies on your newsletter? I think it
is okay if you make sure it is very relevant to your customers and business
industry. Otherwise it becomes distracting and you may lose readership.
What is the best strategy for videos? I would recommend you just place a
hyperlink in your newsletter that will take the user to your website page where
you can then show your video.
When you create your newsletter, depending on your industry, you might want to
include content that is not on your website. That way your customers feel like
they have an advantage over just regular visitors to the website. At least give
your subscriber list a week to enjoy and use the information before placing the
information on your website. Exclusivity can increase subscribers to your
OK, I have to go write my next newsletter.