How to Create Online Community Newsletters
There’s no better method for providing updates, discounts, coupon codes, and community and brand information than the online community newsletter. Customers often want to receive updates without participating in regular chats or social networking; newsletters keep them informed without their having to participate if they’re not inclined to do so.
Using newsletters can lead to more sales as well as to community growth and trust. If your newsletter is sales-oriented, it encourages members to share deals with friends and family members who aren’t on the mailing list. To encourage this sharing, simply say, “Share with a friend.” Nonmembers not only may buy what you’re selling, but also may be intrigued to find out more about the community and even participate in it.
Community newsletters are generally opt-in affairs, which means that no one is on the mailing list unless she signed up for it after following a link in the Welcome folder of a forum or a form on a blog or website.
One thing you don’t want to do is put members on a newsletter mailing list without their permission, because you’ll be crossing the line from community manager to spammer.
You can create several types of community newsletters, from simple text documents to PDF files. Alternatively, you can use a popular online newsletter service such as ConstantContact.com or Aweber.com. These services require paid subscriptions, but they’re worth it for the tools and customer support that they provide. Newsletters contain
News: Product launches or updates, awards and accolades, press mentions, and news about community members and internal employees.
Promotional items: Coupons, contests, coupon codes, discounts for community members only, and sales announcements.
Information of interest to your community and niche: Tips, how-to articles, and informational articles.
Letters from the community: Questions comments and testimonials from community members, used with permission.
Letters from the author or editor: A greeting from the community manager, CEO, newsletter editor or someone in authority.
Successful newsletters are informational and engaging. If they don’t offer much more than advertising, members will mark them as spam.