Email is still the most used Internet medium, way ahead of the web. While many have gone on to imagine reaping big business profits with the web, Web Services, and a myriad number of Internet gibberish or jargon, email remains one of the most accessible and powerful marketing tools today.

Email marketing through e-newsletters can be an equally powerful tool as direct mail (DM), although you have to learn the ropes first, since the mechanics of delivery is different. But how do you make email-marketing work without making yourself a public enemy?

Actions: Email newsletters on the cheap

Think of your email newsletter as one of the most powerful marketing tools, just as SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) police officers are the most admired and effective policing force. Email is much faster than any print, broadcast, fax, or direct mail advertising, and it is cost-effective. We offer these tips to creating a winning email newsletter.

1) Substance. Some email newsletters are just advertisements and nothing more. They are junk mail and it is entirely likely nobody wants to read them. Make your newsletter something you yourself want to read. Make it informative, educational, and entertaining. One of the best personal examples of a good email newsletter is noted speaker and author Ron Kaufman’s monthly postings, available at A good newsletter has facts (or factoids), research (by others or yourself), news (current affairs), and analysis (commentaries and opinions).

2) Web link. Use URLs (universal resource locators), or web site links in your newsletter, rather than embed or include attachments. In this age of incessant computer viruses and worms, people are afraid to open any email with attachments in them. If you like your subscribers to download a file, make sure you upload them to your web site, and include the URL for them to download from. Most modern email will make an URL a “live” link, and allow your subscribers to simply click on the links within your newsletter and their web browser will open up to that intended web page.

3) Addressee. Use good email-merging software to address your recipients directly. Many newsletters are still sent to “nobody”. Using good email-merging software just like how you would with direct mail brochures (like those you receive from banks and insurance companies), you can create a more personalized newsletter.

4) Text. Some people send rich HTML (hypertext markup language) newsletters. Even though on the surface it seems like a good idea, since they will present as rich a look as a regular web page, it is NOT a good idea. The reason is simple. HTML email is a lot larger than plain text email. A plain text email newsletter may take up 1 kilobyte (1 kB) in size, while the same newsletter presented in rich HTML, including graphics, may take up 50 kB or more. You must always assume the lowest denominator of bandwidth available for your subscribers. Some corporate servers block out HTML email because of the fear of embedded “spyware” or viruses, which effectively reduce your marketing reach. Also, not all email software can read rich HTML email properly, again reducing your reach further. Therefore, use plain text email every time you attempt to reach hundreds or thousands of people.

Email is like water, while the web may be likened to spicy curry. Sure, you find curry a delight to eat, but you cannot live a day without water. Email is ubiquitous and is the lifeblood of many businesses and organizations. You may not always be at the phone, and the fax machine may run out of paper, but a good email system always have enough redundancy to allow you to receive the message.

These are some writings we did in 2003 (published as “DotZen”, a paperback book that was widely publicized), and we extracted some which are still relevant today, in the areas of branding, marketing, sales, publicity, and business improvement. If we find some time outside that of helping our clients grow and taking a rest, we will try to write some more.

Copyright©2003 Seamus Phan & Ter Hui Peng. All rights reserved.