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5 Tips for building & distributing an e-newsletter

By Natalie Bannon

Not only can an e-newsletter help your congregation stay connected, it can also cultivate a relationship with visitors. You’ve collected the e-mail addresses, so now you’re ready to build and distribute the e-newsletter. At United Methodist Communications, we want to help you get started with these quick tips.

1. Serve your readers.
When you set out to create an e-newsletter, keep your reader in mind. Are you giving them what they want to read? Avoid a self-serving perspective by cutting language like ‘we need…’ or ‘help us out.’ Make it about them instead. Ask yourself, ‘If I was a subscriber, what would I want to read?’ Ask for feedback. Include a quick poll get your readers’ opinions.

2. Create an identity.
Create an e-mail account that’s unique to your e-newsletter. A separate account ensures that “returned” e-mails won’t bog down your personal inbox. Plus, when recipients can easily identify who the e-mail is from, it makes them more likely to open it.

3. List maintenance is mandatory.
When you ask members and visitors for their e-mail addresses, let them know your intentions upfront. If someone opts out of your database, make sure you remove their address before future distributions. You can keep track of these on your own in a spreadsheet or there are services that will do the work for you at a small cost. Just search Google for “e-newsletter provider” to explore options.

4. Sharing is caring.
Post the link to your e-newsletter on your social media pages and feature it on your website. This is a great way to alert readers who are not yet on your mailing list. Include a small sign-up form on your website. This will build your subscriber list over time. Include social share buttons and the “forward to a friend” option. Facebook and Twitter provide HTML codes that you can add to your template to link to your pages.

5. Send it to yourself first.
Before you hit send on the entire list, test your work. Send it to your own e-mail account to see what it will look like. If you have multiple accounts across different providers—like one on Gmail and one on Outlook—you can send it to both and compare what your creation will look like when your recipients open it in their own accounts. And, as always, proofread.

And there are your five tips! To get more tips—including how to write articles that get noticed—go to www.youtube.com/mycomtips or visit our website at www.umcom.org.