Posted on Jan 03, 2022
When it comes to marketing and promoting your club online, there are a lot of avenues you can pursue. If you are in search of maximum reach and the best results possible, you will want to explore as many of the top methods as you can. This includes learning how to start a email newsletter or e-newsletter.

E-newsletters have become incredibly common – there is a good chance you and many others in your club are already subscribed to a few. This is because they are relatively easy and cheap to produce, and at the same time can be surprisingly effective. Plus, there’s something a lot more personal about an email than many other marketing techniques.
A newsletter is still an undeniably valuable component in your club's marketing arsenal and as it remains a great means to communicate news and updates about your club's projects, events, members, administrative updates, etc., as well as, to include the same from the District, the Zone and Rotary International, in addition to new tips, guidelines and announcements which can help your club committees and chairs.
Over the years, many clubs have produced a traditional newsletter which involves layout design and printing hard copies, while some clubs may opt to share and circulate soft copies as attached files such as PDFs.
Some of the downsides to this traditional approach include: the design and layout process may be very time consuming for every issue; many persons may never receive printed copies or may misplace them; if PDFs are too large, some persons may not download and view; the process of adding a new person to your sender list is one-sides and prone to errors; and, no type of tracking is possible.
With an E-Newsletter, however, many of these disadvantages are eliminated and a whole new array of advantages are made available.

What Is An E-Newsletter?

We live in a world where email can quickly get out of control. Yet, for all its faults, it is still one of the best online methods of reaching your member audience and getting them to take action.
Email newsletters (E-newsletters) are a form of online communication that allows any organization or individual, to send news, tips, and updates about their products, business, events, members, etc., and/or about their sector/area as a whole. They are often used for a variety of purposes and they come in many different forms. Some are weekly digests of content, some are quarterly organization updates, and others promote new products or events, but there’s no end to what you can include in a newsletter.
Users only receive an e-newsletter once they join an email list by providing their email address through a subscription form – these persons are now your newsletter's subscribers, leads, or contacts.
When deciding what to include in your newsletter, think about the goals you’re trying to hit. Including a blog round-up will establish your brand as a thought leader in your field and will keep your readers engaged. It also provides a great incentive for subscribers to forward your email to their like-minded contacts, a cost-effective way for you to increase your reach. Similarly, including links to your social accounts provides multiple ways for your subscribers to get to know your brand’s mission. You can also share industry news your subscribers will find interesting and use your newsletter as an opportunity to become a trusted resource. 

Newsletters can also be used to keep subscribers up to date with your club but remember that your subscribers join your list for content that adds immediate value to their life. So whatever club updates you decide to include should have an impact on your subscribers. The point of email newsletters are to keep subscribers connected, engaged, and informed about what’s new with your club and Rotary.
Thus, e-newsletters give clubs the opportunity to regularly communicate with members, the public and possible leads who have expressed interest in Rotary, making them a very warm audience. Through this channel, not only can you disseminate important information, but you can also help establish a reputation, strengthen relationships, and move people through your membership, stakeholder or donor funnels.
So...When a person signs up for and is subscribed to your newsletter, odds are they are interested in your organization and what it has to offer. 

Advantages of E-Newsletters

Email Is a Preferred Method of Communication: Today, a connection is what persons want with the brands and organizations they like. They can follow you on social media, but the link to them personally is a matter of being professional and personable. Email is still one of the most popular forms of communication. In fact, studies show that there will be more than 4.3 billion email users worldwide by 2023. By sending materials and content related to your club and Rotary to an email address, you ensure that you deliver your communications to a platform where your audience is nearly guaranteed to be spending time. Also, since e-newsletters are opt-in’s, there is the benefit of people actually wanting to receive company information here, which is not the case for all channels. In fact, about 93% of internet users have indicated that they'd rather receive brand or organizational information via their email inbox versus their social media feed. So, by using e-newsletters, your club is ensuring that it is reaching people where they actually want to be reached online. But still...Why would persons want to receive club newsletter mail? When newsletters come with high value and linked content, subscribers stay connected and engaged. See your email newsletter as a means for providing exceptional value via exciting content. People support a brand because they are loyal to it and trust it, not just because it is there. So...Connect!
E-Newsletters Provide Rich Media and Dynamic Content: When your club sends out an email, traditional newsletter or e-newsletter composed of just plain text (a long block of copy in which your club has tried to fit in every detail about itself and its activities), it might so happen that you have already lost your subscriber’s interest. Inboxes are flooded with emails every day. And it is only natural that most of these emails are ignored by busy subscribers. So if you want to ensure your club's e-newsletter is not among those which get ignored, you have to go the extra mile to really impress your readers with innovative newsletter ideas – even beyond those of a well designed and professional-looking traditional newsletter that would normally be printed or circulated digitally as a PDF. Rich media refers to elements like audio, images, GIFs, videos and cinemagraphs, which can help keep your email subscribers engaged and entertained – it adds that coolness to your e-newsletters. It has been proven that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Moreover, as visuals are processed faster by the brain, a person's response to them is also quicker. So by adding visual content to your e-newsletters, you are increasing the chances of your subscriber taking an action in the email and wanting more! With today's e-newsletter design capabilities, you club is able to not just include great and exciting imagery and graphics, but also, provide (embedded) links to almost any element within an e-newsletter which when clicked allows a subscriber to go to related websites (especially your club's website) and find more information. Dynamic content newsletters should also be considered as a viable option for clubs as they allow you to send out any page from your website in the form of emails. Some clubs who use dynamic newsletters create a new webpage specifically for the purposes of a dynamic newsletter (e.g. to display new articles added to your club website during the last month). The added benefit here is that if and when information changes on that webpage in a given time period, there is no need to (re-)send updates to your subscribers, as the e-newsletter is drawing directly from your webpage – so an update on the webpage automatically is reflected in the related e-newsletter. This in turn can be a great time-saver.
E-Newsletters Increase Website Traffic & Grow Your Social Media Community: If you want to drive more people to your club website, you cannot expect that it will happen least not in the long-term. You need to work actively to attract visitors, and your club e-newsletter can help. You need to invite, encourage and incentivize visitors (members and non-members) to come to your site, browse through content, engage, get involve and take action. A strong call-to-action is warranted and your e-newsletter can provide a direct means of "pushing" your subscribers to continually and sustainably keep visiting your website as they can provided with new and relevant content on your website via your club e-newsletter. Concurrently, emails and this e-newsletters that contain social sharing buttons have a much higher click-through rate when compared to those that do not. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram Twitter, and LinkedIn, are essential to your club's overall growth and marketing strategies. However, growing those channels  requires significant time and work. E-newsletters can help your club build your online community by engaging subscribers through their inbox and guiding them to your social media channels. This in turn provides your club with more reach and will ultimately start generating more activity and engagement.

E-Newsletters With Opt-Outs Help You Narrow Your List of Quality Leads: Building an e-newsletter (email) list is the best way to generate quality leads for your club – whether these leads are for new members, new stakeholders or new donors. When your audience opts in, they are proclaiming their interest in what you have to offer. Nothing is a clearer indicator of a warm lead. Subscribers, especially new subscribers, typically need to be exposed to brand and its offerings a few times before taking action. Having an e-newsletter list is the path of least resistance for getting in front of potential customers over and over. Similarly, once subscribers begin to receive your club e-newsletter, they may decide they are even more interested in getting involved with your club and Rotary or that they no longer want to receive your communications. E-newsletters give persons the ability to easily opt out of your list, which means that you can weed out the people who actually are not viable member, stakeholder or donor leads – and focus on the people who are indeed interested in your club and its activities.

E-Newsletters Are a Platform Where You Can Brand Yourself: Over-selling a brand can make subscribers feel pushed, leading to unsubscribes. But too little means you are producing free content with no return on investment. Consider the 70/30 rule: providing mostly useful content that speaks to your audience with a side of advertising that promotes your club's goals like attracting more members, getting persons involved with projects and finding viable sponsors and donors. When your audience is receiving value from your club e-newsletter, they will have no qualms about you sharing your brand offerings, values, and vision. In fact, it will only create more traction, helping you discover your club's true supporters. Additionally, e-newsletters are a great opportunity for an organization to provide valuable, practical information and to show off what they know. For that reason, e-newsletters can help your club prove that it is a leader in your community and a service-based organization that is worth "doing business with" and supporting.

E-Newsletters Help You Build Relationships Stay at the Forefront of People's Minds: Those who are actively engaged, long-term subscribers of e-newsletters have gotten to know and love your brand. This is the audience segment that you are most likely to retain as supporters of your club, so it is important to review your data and discover what keeps them around. Targeting them, with say special club offerings or opportunities, shows appreciation and increases their lifetime value. Additionally, if your club has a regular e-newsletter, it can continuously remind current and potential subscribers that your club exists and is active. Many persons among the general public get busy and forget about a organization in which they are interested without meaning to divert their attention. A regular e-newsletter is a simple reminder that your club is still there and that you have current or upcoming services, activities, initiatives, events, etc. By staying top of mind, you increase your chances of being the brand of choice when someone decides to get involved.
E-Newsletters Are Pre-Schedulable: Like all facets of your club, when it comes to marketing, time is limited. Luckily, an e-newsletter can be crafted in advance, then scheduled and sent out automatically by using automation software. By automating the dissemination of your e-newsletters, you can use time spent on your club more efficiently and effectively...not to mention also ensuring that you are sending out the e-newsletter at the optimal time of day. Also, you can schedule content ahead of time when you know persons responsible for dissemination may be on vacation or busy with other tasks. Supplementary, email marketing automation makes it easier than ever to build a personalized relationship with your audience. Scheduling follow-up emails when someone signs up for your e-newsletter, or opens a certain email can create remarkable consistency. Seasonal campaigns and other timely pieces can be planned and scheduled, making it easy to stick to your club's marketing and calendar goals.

E-Newsletters Offer a Chance to Promote New Project and Events: As we are always interested in growing our clubs, there's a good chance a club always want to regularly promote new projects and events for stakeholders and donors to get involved. Newsletters help you get the word out about those initiatives and keep your readers informed. This is convenient, especially for recipients who signed up for your email list a long time ago but haven't checked your offerings recently. There are a few powerful ways to launch new club offerings and initiatives via your e-newsletter. Some brands give subscribers sneak peaks or first dibs as these options show appreciation and give your audience a clear incentive to stay subscribed. For clubs that offer services like training or webinars, announcing when your schedule opens up for attendees exclusively to your e-newsletter list shows that you prioritize them. This "secret" information is what keeps your subscribers excited and opening emails.
E-Newsletter Data Provides Subscriber Insights: To ensure success with your email marketing campaign, you need to have a good plan. Part of that plan is testing out what works and what doesn’t, and email marketing platforms have metrics that can tell you whether your emails are working or not. E-newsletter and email marketing data is some of the most important information you club can analyze. It reveals your open rate (how many people open your e-newsletter), subscribe rate (how many person stay on as subscribers or become new subscribers), and click through rate (how many people click on links within your emails and/or which links are clicked the most). If you pay close and regular attention to these metrics, they will show you where you need to make adjustments and whether any changes you’re making are paying off.. For instance, if you have had a lot of unopened e-newsletters and decide to write more personalized copy for your next issue, you should definitely see an increase in your open and click-through rates. Testing these small changes can inevitably provide a wealth of actionable insight over time..

E-Newsletters Can Be Powerful Conversion Tools: E-newsletters are an excellent opportunity to promote member opportunities and benefits to those who may be interested in joining. When potential member leads receive an e-newsletter with a "special offer", it may just be that extra encouragement that convinces them to buy-in to Rotary, and thus makes e-newsletters powerful conversion tools. If you want to see exactly how well your e-newsletter is converting leads, create a unique means of user follow-up, like a unique email address or a discount code for event tickets sold online, that is sent out exclusively to your mailing list. Then, you can track the feedback from this follow-up to see just how many of your non-member readers are interested in joining Rotary or how many of your total subscribers are engaged based on feedback. This approach can also help you make decisions about future means of promoting your club and its activities!
E-Newsletters Can Facilitate Direct Feedback: One interesting facet of e-newsletter is direct replies. There is no other avenue quite as private and direct and a direct email response from a subscriber. It provides a unique opportunity to learn what your readers are really thinking. Your audience may be more candid, sharing things they would not normally share through other avenues like social media or website contact forms. Clubs can take advantage of this immediacy and implement reader feedback into their e-newsletter strategy.

The ROI of E-Newsletters: With a low cost of operation to supplement all the benefits listed above, it’s no surprise that e-newsletters generate a strong return on investment. In fact, a recent survey of marketers showed that email marketing was the most successful channel for digital marketing, especially when it comes to ROI. Sixty-eight percent of marketers surveyed reported that their ROI for email marketing was either "good" or "excellent." Furthermore, according to a recent study by the Direct Marketing Association and Demand Metric, email marketing tactics had a median ROI of 122 percent. This means that email marketing pays off more than many other marketing techniques, including social media, direct mail and even paid search. So, if you're wondering how you can better harness the power of the internet to bring in or maintain members, stakeholders and donors, do not overlook e-newsletters. They are a simple, convenient digital marketing technique, which can be helpful for a busy public image team and your club can use e-newsletters to easily reach members and the public where they spend time.

So What Next...? Where To Start...?

The nice thing about email marketing and e-newsletters specifically is its ‘scalability’. In other words, you can start very small, with a modest list and a simple design, and work your way up over time. Overall, there’s little risk involved in simply giving it a try. For a more detailed approach to E-Newsletters, from the District 7030 Communications Team please download and view the guide provided on this page.
Step 1: Choose an email marketing platform
Technically speaking, you can learn how to start an e-newsletter without any special tools. You could gather email addresses manually, store them in a spreadsheet, and send out emails via say Gmail or Outlook.
However, this is not only a tedious way marketing, but also, will prove to be more demanding time-wise as your e-newsletter grows in reach and in content – as your list grows, managing it will become increasingly unwieldy and you will have few options for formatting and styling your newsletters, targeting your audience, and so on. You will also have to keep track of all the anti-spam laws locally and around the world, and make sure your newsletter is compliant on your own.
To get the kind of results that best benefit your club, you will almost certainly want to use some kind of email marketing platform – an all-in-one service to help you build your list, manage it, create and send content, and more.
A good practice would be to spend a little time researching some of the options available by searching the internet yourself or by talking to other persons or clubs already producing e-newsletters to see what platform they use and why, as well as, find out what works and does not work for them.
In any case and as you might expect, there are a lot of options available, each with its own set of pros and cons relevant to your needs and your available resources. A few of the most popular available platforms include:
  • SendinBlue: Best bulk email software for beginners – this platform offers a suite of tools to help you design and optimize your campaigns, and features a pretty generous free tier.
  • AWeber: This is an excellent beginner-level tool – it’s simple to use, and makes getting your campaign off the ground very quick.
  • GetResponse: Best email service provider – with this solution, you get a lot of automation options, so you can set up campaigns and let them essentially run themselves.
  • Mailchimp: Best overall email marketing services for small businesses and organizations and offers free plans with reasonable limits.
  • Drip: Best email marketing platform for eCommerce
  • ConvertKit: Best email marketing software for bloggers
  • InfusionSoft: Quality email marketing automation tool – great if you are running a relatively large operation and really need to integrate multiple online marketing efforts through one tool
Understandably, the decision on which platform to use unfortunately may not be a simple one. Honestly, each of these email marketing tools (and many others) is a quality product, and there are no losers or outright winners. Based on your needs, you might be attracted to some tools or features or freebies more than others.

While your options may seem endless, once you know what you are looking for based on what you need and what you have, you can narrow things down pretty quickly. Take a look at the comparison and rank of the above email marketing services based on their ease of use, functionality, designs, and pricing:
Pretty much all of the above platforms (and many of the other popular choices) provide templates and other tools to help you build e-newsletters. In addition, they let you build and organize your email list, and even segment subscribers into multiple groups in order to target them with more specific messaging if you so desire and design.

Ultimately, the tool you choose will come down to personal preference and budget. Fortunately, most solutions will offer a free trial or starter tier, including the ones above. This lets you get a feel for the interface and feature set before making a commitment.

Step 2: Start building your email list
The next step in how to start a newsletter is gathering email addresses. After all, your newsletter won’t do you much good if there’s no one to send it to. You’ll want to build your list by letting people opt-in as subscribers. Almost no one likes to have marketing messages show up in their inbox that they weren’t expecting or didn’t want. Plus, by focusing on audience members who have already indicated an interest in your business, you’ll be able to use your newsletter to encourage further engagement. And you’ll avoid breaking anti-spam laws.

Perhaps the best way to start growing your list is to place a prominent sign-up form on your website. You’ve no doubt seen these opt-in messages before:
There are many newsletter providers; look for one that gives you metrics. Open rate tells you what percentage of people opened your email.  Click through rate shows you how many people clicked on a link in your email. These numbers are important and help you understand what type of content is working.
Some easy to use and readily available e-newsletter providers include:
  • Mailchimp: Free for up to 2,000 contacts and 12,000 emails per month. Packages start at US$10 per month.
While a monthly newsletter is a good start for any club, if an when the need arises, you can always increase to twice a month or weekly, and send out extra emails when something special is going on.
Here are some ideas for getting the most out of an e-newsletter:
Give non-members the ability to sign up.  Most newsletter providers have code that you can embed on your website that allows anyone to sign up for your newsletter. Those providers also have tabs that can be added to your club Facebook page. You can also use your Facebook page’s call to action button to link to the signup information. This is the most important first step in reaching out to your community.
Share your club programs for the month. Pre-plan your club speakers at least a month out and share them through your newsletter. Creating a call to action button like “register for our luncheon” allows you to gauge what topics people are most interested in and also gives guests an opportunity to check out your club without feeling pressured.
Share upcoming projects. Promoting your projects through your newsletter gives community members a reason to be excited about your club. Inviting nonmembers to take part in your projects allows you to enlist extra help, and also gives the volunteers a chance to see how your club takes action to improve your community. Include a link to where readers can find more information about your projects on your website.
Share Rotary stories: Highlight a member, share their background, why they joined and why they stay.
Share Your blog: If your website has a blog or other content that is often updated, share the first few lines of the posts and use a link to drive traffic back to your site.
Remember that email is not intrusive if someone has requested to be added to your newsletter list. And providers offer excellent tools to measure the effectiveness of your content.
Extracted From An Article By
PDG Melissa Ward