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Kate Vandermeer – the 101 of newsletters

The 101 of email newsletters
Kate  Vandermeer,’s guest blogger on Women in Internet Retailing

Kate Vandermeer ispystyle

So you’ve finally made the decision to use some e-marketing for your business. Good on you! Next problem, where to from here?


I’ve consulted with Helen Lee from Sassy Bella (ex e-marketing specialist), Lisa Taliana from Taliana Design and Clare Lancaster from Dot Marketing to get their expert tips.


1. Design Agency or DIY?


Design Agency – If you wanted to get a Custom Built e-newsletter made and you also wanted this agency to send it out on your behalf, there are some things you should know. You will provie the agency with imagery, copy and links and they will design it, set it up, test it and send it to your subscribers on your behalf. They will also manage all the subscribers and unsubscribes etc.


Pro’s – Great if you have no computer skills and are time poor as they will test on all the platforms for you, have a superior knowledge of “bugs” and will keep abreast of new technologies.


Con’s – It’s more expensive than if you were to DIY,  there can be priority Issues with working to their schedules . There can be hidden costs for “rush fees” and extra charges for additional changes, and if you ever wanted to change agencies, they will most likely have built the e-newsletter in a way that you can’t take it with you.


DIY – This is when you use an existing “off the shelf” template purchased from the net /service company. You will still be able to add your logo, copy and imagery and possibly adjust colours to suit your brand, but it will be the same style layout as many other business’s and doesn’t have the same flexibility as having it custom built. However it’s a lot less expensive.


Pro’s – Inexpensive, easier to change as you have ultimate control, you can send it out when you are ready & don’t have to schedule anything with an outsourced agency.


Con’s – You will need some basic e-newsletter knowledge and be willing to learn some simple systems. Can be frustrating if your skill base isn’t quite up to speed. You’ll need to keep up with email marketing trends and how to hold onto your subscribers.


2. Costs

Agencies – An initial newsletter design cost will vary depending on how sophisticated you require it. A ballpark estimate is $800-$2000. Ongoing costs can be similar but vary depending on the agency.


DIY – If you were to choose an existing template you could be paying as little as $30 per month and .03c per send eg. You have 500 people on your database and send out a monthly e-newsletter. You will pay $30 (monthly fee) plus 500 x .03c = $15 – total payment = $45 per month.  This changes depending on your database and how frequently you wish to send your e-newsletter.


3. Tips

a. Analysis is Key – Whichever way you choose to go, make sure you get Analytics included. This will help you monitor your open ratio, subscribers and unsubscribes etc.

b. Try before you buy – Many DIY services offer a 30 day trial so you can test what the experience is like and see how easy/hard it is.

c. Design Synergy – Make sure your e-newsletter looks and feels like a reflection of your website, business card, logo, blog etc Everything should look like it belongs to the one brand identity.

d. Shop around – Compare prices relevant to your database. Choose a month by month package so you can opt out if it’s not working.

e. Choose according to your skills – If you aren’t all that computer savvy and don’t know how to HTML code, you need to choose a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). This simply means you don’t need any coding to create your newsletter.

4. Considerations

1.         You need to be able to capture email addresses from your website and the subscriber must complete a double opt in process (that is required by law to adhere to the Spam Act)

2.         Emails now can be received through a variety of ways ? e.g. Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail and on hand held devices so if you custom build your emails you?ll need to test in each of these environments to make sure it doesn?t ?break?.

3.         Make sure you find out about all the costs involved to send out a newsletter. Aside from design, coding, set up fees and deployment, you should look into how much it will cost you once you have gone over the number of amends you?re allowed, rush fee?s (in case you want to send out an email tomorrow or ASAP), account set up fees and etc.

4.         Most people tend to ignore this, but email newsletters should have actual text in the newsletter, not an image with text, because it will increase your chances of getting caught in spam filters which will lower your deliverability rate.

5.         Always make sure you cross-email platform check your email newsletters before you approve and deploy it to make sure it will land in peoples inboxes looking like it should.




Mail chimp

Campaign Monitor

Vision 6

Web Central Promotions Manager

Constant Contact

Newsletter Advantage

About Kate:

Kate comes from the Fashion Industry having worked with Mimco, French Connection, Decjuba and having established and brand managed “” an online fashion magazine.Kate has recently begun her own business called “iSpyStyle” which aims to inspire, inform and connect the design industry.  The website trend information, brand reviews and profiles alongside a great directory of links for anything you might need to connect to the design industry.  Kate consults to fashion brands about marketing, branding and online strategies as well as lecturing in Business and Trend Forecasting.

See Kate’s other post here


Kate can be reached by clicking here or visit her website


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