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Christopher Knight

Interview with Tad Clarke - MarketingSherpa Editorial Director - Email Newsletter Time Investments
By Christopher Knight



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How long does it take you to produce your email newsletters?

That's a question I asked a lot of people while at the Email Summit this past week in Miami. Tad Clarke, Editorial Director for MarketingSherpa said that a typical newsletter they produce involves 1-2 hours of research, 1-5 hours writing each story, the submission of each story to an editor and someone who formats the work...resulting in a total of about 16-20 hours PER newsletter. Many ezine publishers at the event said they invest upwards of 35-60 hours for EACH newsletter. I thought this was crazy to invest that much time, especially if they are delivering significantly more than their readers can chew on? Once your stories or featured article(s) are written, the actual mechanical aspects of formatting your HTML or TEXT, reviewing analytics, and testing should be about 2-5 hours of investment time, according to Tad. My take on it: The ezine production time investment equation should be related to the least amount of time invested that can reach the sweet spot of achieving your ezine publishing goals and exceeding the expectations of your readership. Seriously, why blow the doors of your readership if they don't have the time to be blown away?..or worse, feel overwhelmed with data. I'm all for quality, relevant content that meets and exceeds the needs of your readership... but many newsletter publishers over-produce each issue. MarketingSherpa does a great job and they don't over-produce, yet they aim (like most of us) to exceed their readers expectations.

What Is MarketingSherpa's Email Newsletter Model?

Their article body includes a summary headline, brief teaser copy and the goal to drive their readers to the website to read the whole story. According to Tad, the majority clicks on the story to read the whole article or they click on the recent headline links. Translation = They use email newsletters to drive traffic back to their website.

What Three Items Should Every Ezine Publisher Test?

  1. Tad said the first thing to test are SUBJECT lines. Shorter is better is what he's heard lately, but he's not sure that's the way to go.

    "Spend as much time on your headline and SUBJ line as you do the article itself," according to Tad..."If the summary and subject line is an afterthought, you just wasted the reporters time."
    Curious: When is the last time you tested your ezine subject line?

  2. Devote more time to what's in your newsletter at the top, Tad mentioned. If your newsletter is long, you can safely assume that whatever is directly below your top headline or above the fold will get the most attention; and therefore should be tested.

  3. Test all links, every time...even the ones you see every day.

    Clarification: Tad is not talking about A/B split testing your links (even though you could do that with different link types, perhaps tracking links vs. not links that don't include tracking)... but rather, he's talking about email newsletter quality control by always testing that your links are good before releasing your email to your members.
To learn more about Marketing Sherpa, visit their website.

This Ezine-Tip was submitted By Christopher Knight -- Email List Marketing Expert, author and entrepreneur. Get your weekly dose of Email newsletter publishing, marketing, promotion, management, email-etiquette, email usability and deliverability tips by joining the free Ezine-Tips newsletter: http://www.emailuniverse.com/subscribe/.

Ezine-Tips for March 06, 2008

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