We have a number of larger clients who have pretty successful newsletter programs - either in-house or through our agency. They have a significant amount of resources to throw at the project on a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly basis. But what is a small business owner to do when they want to keep customers and prospects up to date, but don't have the big budget or sophisticated email systems?
Personally, as business manager for a literary publication with a subscriber base of approximately 1,000, I have experienced this dilemma. I grew my email database to nearly 700 names and every quarter, I blasted out a PDF of a 4-page newsletter. It was time-consuming, cumbersome, and it froze up my email system. Then I had to manually deal with opt-outs, bounces and the like. I got so fed up, I started a blog - which can be thought of as a type of newsletter, just one with two-way conversation that's updated much more frequently.
Well, I'm happy to say I've just discovered Letterpop, which makes newsletter creation a snap. I haven't tried it out yet, so I can't comment on all of the features, but from what I understand, it takes the hassle out of design and directly handles all email issues, including opt-out language that will allow your customers to easily unsubscribe if they wish. This really bears some deeper exploration.
We're still on the cutting edge of RSS - despite the integration into the latest browsers, it still hasn't caught on. There's promise there, though. In the meantime, FeedBlitz or other email-based notification programs serve the very same purpose as an e-newsletter program, and give credence to some claims that email is on the rise as a marketing tool in 2007.