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Which software to use for a newsletter

Having had my practice going a few months now I have collected enough email addresses to make a newsletter worthwhile (also as a why of keeping in touch with slow burning prospects).

I have a couple of questions.  Firstly, what software do people use to a) create the newsletter and b) mail it.  I've heard good things about Mailchimp, but know little about it.  I also have a copy of Sage ACT (installing that and getting my head round it are next on my to do list).

Also, does anyone have any thoughts on incorporating the newsletter into my website and mailing links to by mailing list (and so I can also distribute the link via Twitter)

Final question - any thoughts on content for the newsletter would be welcome.  My thoughts so far:

General business/tax news

Practice news (new clients, client success stories, etc)

Tax Tip of the month

Profit improvement tip of the month

Client interview (a handful of standard interview type questions for each client to answer - will promote them, (hopefully) they say nice things about me, and it's one less thing I need to write)

Important upcoming dates (filing deadlines, etc)

Thanks in advance

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15th Mar 2012 17:02

Mailchimp

I use Mailchimp and find it relatively easy to use. It guides you through the process but you will need to put some time aside to learn how to use it the first time.

The good thing about Mailchimp is that it is free up to 2,000 subscribers / 20,000 newsletters per month.

The downside to Mailchimp is that it won't allow you to add generic/role-based emails such as [email protected] to your mailing list, even if they are clients and have allowed you to send them a newsletter. They will need to sign up themselves. There's lots of info online about this "feature" of Mailchimp.

I started a newsletter for a small networking group lately and about 20% had one of these generic addresses. I had to email each of them and ask them to add themselves to the list by clicking on a link. Most signed up but a few didn't and complained about not getting the newsletter etc. It was a pain, but not the end of the world.

Mailchimp has nice reporting features and it does a lot of things "automagically" such as getting the colours and design of your website and applying them to your newsletter.

Mailchimp also integrates easily with your website, Twitter and Facebook. Each newsletter has its own link which you can add to a Tweet, a newsletter section on your website etc.

I do like Mailchimp although it is a pity about the generic email address thing. It constantly surprises me with the cool techie things it can do at the touch of a button, but then again, I like that sort of thing.

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15th Mar 2012 17:09

Try...

... Constant Contact, with which I have always had very good results

 

Steve

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Buy in the content?

Unless you have a lot of spare time on your hands why not buy in content that you can tailor to your own needs. Imagine trying to write your own budget update! Accounting Websmiths will provide content to you / your website (and even provide your whole website if you wish) and as you get busier with paid work you will be very grateful!

Take a look at mine to see the type of stuff they provide ...  www.median-accountancy.co.uk  The 'latest news' section is also the basis of the monthly e-zine that gets mailed to all of my clients and obviously they provide the facts & figures, news feeds etc. They actually do my whole site but they will provide the bits you want separately as well.

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Another approach

Hi Chris - having written & bought in years & years worth of newsletters in the past and also having been a reciepient of them from all & sundry I realised a long time ago (confirmed by a survey we did) that the majority of people do not read them or, if they do, they will just scan them getting bored after page 1.

In an attempt to make them more relevant, we used to do one for business clients and another for personal tax clients but even so, on average I suppose any one client might only find a third of the contant (max) of interest, the classic being loads of stuff on VAT & PAYE to self employed clients outside VAT or PAYE as well as CGT & IHT news for clients who would have given their right arm to have a problem with either of them.

I have found it better therefore to pick key topics or maybe a number of related topics that might arise over a month or two and target just the clients with an interest in that area, this might be just 3-4 clients.  In this way they don't feel pestered or overloaded with information and they are more likely to read & take note.

I use Iris to allocate particular areas of interest to clients and can extract, in XL, client lists using this or any other criteria (eg any client carrying a PAYE reference or a birth date before XXXXX).  The XL sheet contains their email address and I use this in a Word-email mailmerge.

You can instead just send hyperlinks to the info on your website however, on balance, if the targetted information can be contained in an email, it's more likely to be read.

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16th Mar 2012 07:28

Horses for courses

I used constant contact for 5 years and have now migrated to a more sophisticated solution.

These email newsletter management systems (like mailchimp, aweber, bluecamroo and constant contact) become more valuable when you have hundreds of names and need to automate the ubsubscribes and also the addition of new people to your lists. 

They typically have online videos and lists of features. Some you will never want to use. The absence of others may disappoint you.

You're right to think about content and I agree with Paul that different clients need different/tailored content.  The idea of a featured client interview is a good one too.

I know plenty of accountants who focus on content and then use the mail-merge facility within MS office outlook to send personally addressed emails to clients. Having established a layout and structure they like they then cut and paste this and update the content each month. Which is pretty much what you do with the email management systems.

Mark

 

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By JC
16th Mar 2012 09:33

Swiftpage ...

Auful interface but integrates with Sage ACT

http://www.swiftpage.com/

 

 

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16th Mar 2012 10:04

Mad Mimi

Don't let the name put you off.

Mad Mimi is very simple to use! 

Which means you may actually end up actually using it. 

Rather than struggling with design and html and templates, with Mad Mimi you just drag and drop items into location. 

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17th Mar 2012 18:13

Make sure you invest in ACT! Training
We use ACT! As our crm system, and swiftpage (or Sage Emarketing as it's also called) for our email marketing.

We had ACT for quite a while and thought we were doing a pretty good job with it - until we decided to invest in a days in house training and found we had been doing so many things either I correctly or in the longest and most difficult way!

The day of training did cost about £675 but it was the best thing we have done. I woul strongly recommend it, you will reap the rewards

We had the training from Will Ingleby from BluebirdSAM - he is really good. I have no connection with Will, other than being a Happy customer. several of my clients have also used Will for training and also said he was very good.

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