23 Things for Archivists

Thing 28: E-Newsletters

By Kathryn Otto

Many businesses and non-profits use e-newsletter services to do e-mail marketing, and you probably receive several e-newsletters yourself.  For your archives you may think of it as “outreach” rather than “marketing,” but the software and mailing service to create and send a nice-looking e-mail newsletter is the same.

If you have a paper newsletter that you mail out to patrons and others (donors, perhaps), you might want to consider changing to an e-newsletter to save on the printing and postage costs. Even if you haven’t printed and mailed a newsletter in the past, if you have a reason to regularly contact your patrons, an e-newsletter can be a good way to do it.

E-newsletters services help you to:

  • create a good-looking e-newsletter,
  • brand your identity,
  • have active links rather than just listing any URLs,
  • create and maintain a mailing list,
  • e-mail the newsletter to your list.

There are free e-newsletter services if your mailing list is relatively small. Once the number of e-mails you are sending goes above a set limit, those services also offer pricing based on either the size of your list or the number of e-mails you send per month.  Free e-newsletter services include Constant Contact, MailChimp, and phpList. Some e-newsletter services you pay for include iContactInformz, Mad Mini, MyNewsletterBuilder, VerticalResponse, as well as Constant Contact and MailChimp if your mailing list is above their free level. These are just a few of the newsletter services out there, there are more, just use your favorite search engine. Most of the pay services offer free trials so you can see if you will like them. They also offer discounts for non-profits (usually have to be a 501c3) and discounts if you pay in advance. Be sure to read the fine print for other fees. Constant Contact, for example, only allows you to use 5 images—ever—or you can pay an additional fee for unlimited images.

The hardest part of creating an e-newsletter is developing your first newsletter. The services all offer templates and other design help. If you work for a college/university archives, you might appreciate MailChimp’s Color Themes based on your school’s colors. Once you’ve created your first newsletter, you can save it as your template and just reuse it every time you’re ready to write a new newsletter.

E-newsletter services provide you with more services than just help designing and sending your e-newsletters. They also will convert your HTML newsletter to a plain-text message for any of your patrons who can’t, or don’t want to, receive your HTML version.  They provide terrific reports on your e-newsletter “campaigns” by providing statistics on things like how many of the recipients actually opened your e-mail and “click-through” statistics so you know which of your links were the most popular (that new class you’re offering or the new collection that was just donated). All of the services provide the required (CAN-SPAM Act of 2003) Unsubscribe function for patrons who want to opt-out of receiving your e-newsletter. Most services also now have connections with the major social media sites so you can “advertise” that you’ve send out a new issue of your newsletter.

Finally, many of the services also allow you to survey your recipients.  MailChimp, for example, integrated with SurveyMonkey. You build your survey inside SurveyMonkey, then link over to MailChimp where they load up one of their SurveyMonkey e-mail templates and all you have to do is click “send.” You get survey statistics inside your MailChimp campaign reports, including who started the survey, who completed the survey, and who’s still in progress. You can also send a reminder e-mail to those who haven’t completed the survey, or send a thank-you e-mail to those who have.

Tasks

  • Pick one of the free services and set up an account.
    • If you are seriously thinking of doing an e-newsletter, set up accounts on more than one service so you can compare and contrast them.
  • Investigate how the service works—pricing, list creation and maintenance, other options available  (e.g. event marketing, do they host an archive of your newsletters), training and help, and creating an e-newsletter campaign.
  • Create a sample newsletter.
  • Most services allow you to send a test newsletter, so send your sample to yourself and a colleague.

Blog Prompts

  • Which service did you pick and what did you think of what it had to offer.
  • How easy was it to create a newsletter? Was it fairly intuitive, or did you need to view videos or read a lot of help screens?
  • What did you think of your newsletter? What did your colleague think of it?
  • Might want to do a regular e-newsletter?
  • If you investigated more than one service, which one did you like the best and why.

Resources

Advertisements
  1. […] are not included on the library list and are thing 30 on the archives […]

  2. […] back on the horse! This Thing by Kathryn Otto is less about collection showcasing (although you can certainly use it for that) and […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: