From the very beginning I've been publishing newsletters to promote my business. Even when I had hardly anyone to promote to, I forced myself to write articles and put them out into the web sphere (and now the blogosphere). Nowadays, creating and sending an email blast for my subscribers (love you guys!) is something I relish. It's like a delicious ongoing marketing experiment that I get to keep doing over and over again, each time with something new and interesting to talk about. The results have been good to say the least:

1. Increased brand strength - it's a nice way to get personal without cold calling people (eew)

2. Increased credibility - good articles generally come from a place of knowledge and passion

3. Increased lead generation - letting interested parties get to know you through a newsletter is the soft sell many appreciate in the Age of Marketing Overwhelm

I started out with a free list management service but eventually switched to Aweber and have never looked back. Aweber isn’t cheap, but it’s a no brainer when you consider the easy-to-use interface and tracking tools that come with your service (and it’s improving all the time). I’m happy to say that I’ve enjoyed double digit open rates and sometimes even double digit click rates for many, many of my newsletters this past year.

How I’ve achieved these results is remarkably straightforward, and I think you can do it to:

1. Simplicity rules. Long ago I gave up laboring over graphics and HTML pages. Yuck. I'm a marketer and a writer. Not a graphic designer. Plus I started to notice that a lot of the heavy hitters send out either plain text newsletters with some simple links or a very simply designed HTML formatted email that is almost as plain save for a few images of the company logo. Switching to a zero-graphics format with just a few links has saved me a ton of time and in turn, allowed me to produce news worthy bits more regularly.

2. Schedules are boring. And I don't stick to one at all with my newsletter. Nope, I just email you guys when I've got something to say that I think might be interesting or helpful. The only rule of thumb I have is to not let more than about a month go by without getting in touch. Though I've broken that rule too but hey, I've been popping out babies for the last few years (and the baby factory is now closed, thank you very much). Personally, I think this keeps things interesting for readers. I figure if they see the same email from the same person on the same date and time every week they will eventually put their trigger finger on auto-pilot and me on auto-DELETE.

3. The subject line is your friend. Let me say that again: The Subject Line is your friend. So spend some time writing a unique one for every single blast you send out. "Jane's Newsletter - Edition 17" ain’t gonna cut it. Remember, people's inboxes are literally overflowing these days and most of the mail flowing in gets overlooked, moved to a folder, or trashed. Your Subject Line should cause your readers to trip on themselves a bit. To stop the robotic routine they go through every morning when they check their email and think for a second "Mmm, that looks interesting. Maybe I'll take just a peek and see what Jane has to say this morning."

4. Originality will get you everywhere. Or maybe I should say personality, because YOU are 100% original. Why people are afraid to reveal themselves is a complex subject. But if you don't start practicing this, at least in your marketing communications, you are going to be another entrepreneur lost in a sea of mediocrity. Yes, people want to read something useful, but it's no secret that the Internet, your friends, your family, your colleagues and the other 300 gurus your readers already subscribe to are already brimming with–and handing out–advice. You must get creative with your delivery, because HOW you deliver the content IS your brand. And your brand is what will make your readers want more of you and less of the other gurus spewing generic guru stuff.

5. Keep the spam-o-meter as low as possible. If you don't, your email messages are going to be filtered out and trashed by subscribers' increasingly aggressive (and for good reason) junk mail filters. Try to keep hyperlinks to no more than about 3 or 4 within the email itself. These include a link to your website, a link to the full article if appropriate, and maybe a link to an affiliate you are promoting. Avoid repetition of words and phrases like free, financial, earn money, work from home, and yes, sex. Spam filters don't like those either.

There's a whole lot more I can tell you here, but these 5 guidelines alone are guaranteed to make a huge difference in the response and clickthrough rates of your email newsletters. Now get crackin' will ya? Your fans are waiting to hear from you.

Author's Bio: 

Karri Flatla is the principal of snap! virtual associates inc., an online consulting firm specializing in Internet marketing and copywriting for busy entrepreneurs. Well known across the web for her frank and sometimes sassy business articles, Karri believes in the ability of small businesses to embrace the Internet as a key tool for business development and growth. In addition to publishing her own Outsmart newsletter and blog, Karri is a regularly featured guest blogger at Search Engine Guide and the VAnetworking.com Blog. Karri has also been featured in the Globe and Mail online and more recently Alberta Venture Magazine. Karri resides in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband Jason (also an entrepreneur) and their two young boys. Visit her website at Snap! Virtual Associates.