Ezines are online publications with regular (as opposed to one-time) issues that are updated a number of times each month. While there is no single reason for their existence, as with any type of publication they are disseminated to provide information and entertainment. The biggest difference between an ezine and a newsletter is the time factor: A newsletter can be published only once or twice per year, while an ezine can publish daily if the editor has enough material — which he or she usually does. Ezines also tend to have more graphics than newsletters do.
Ezines include news, tips and techniques as well as humorous articles, professional columns, personal essays and reviews of books, movies and music. Some ezines also review and recommend Web sites.
Ezines have become virtually mandatory for many types of businesses, ranging from mail-order catalogues to brick-and-mortar stores. It’s also common for personal Web sites to include free ezine subscriptions as a way of establishing visitor loyalty, encouraging repeat visits and allowing interested parties to share the site’s contents with others.
The term “ezine” was coined in 1994 by online publisher J. Scott Armstrong (who had previously used the terms “newsletter on steroids” and “electronic magazine”). He says that the name came from three sources: The first part is from the word “magazine,” which means a publication that appears regularly; the second part is from software called EZines (that allows the automatic updating of HTML on a Web site); and the third is from another program, IZINE, which was a primitive form of ezine publishing.
Ezines have the potential to be very profitable for their publishers. The time commitment is similar to that required by a newsletter — maybe even less because an ezine can publish more frequently and doesn’t necessarily require custom graphics if it doesn’t want them — but the revenue possibilities are much greater than with a newsletter. There are two reasons for this: One, there’s no physical product to sell; not having this expense means that profit margins will usually be higher in an ezine than they would be otherwise. And two, people who sign up for an ezine are usually promised specific kinds of information, and if that information isn’t delivered to them they may take their business elsewhere.
Ezines also provide an excellent way for a company to showcase its products and services while enhancing brand recognition. This is because the more people who get this type of material at home or via e-mail from respected companies, the more likely it is that they will be repeat customers when they’re ready to buy whatever product or service it happens to offer.
The only real drawback with ezines comes in mailing lists. Since these publications are distributed electronically rather than through the postal system — which means there’s no easy way for visitors who want to subscribe to automatically be included on the list — many publishers have resorted to using what’s called a “double opt-in” system, in which people who wish to subscribe must first enter their e-mail addresses on the publisher’s Web site and then respond by clicking on a link that will be sent back to them. This process can increase response rates, but it also adds an extra step or two between when someone enters his/her address and when he or she gets access to the publication.
Making sure your readers are happy is another important issue. The best way for publishers to get this done is by listening carefully to what their subscribers say: Are they asking for more of something? Less of something else? Do they approve of certain articles while rejecting others? Are newcomers upset because they feel that getting the publication means that they’re being “sold” to? Do old-timers feel that the ezine has changed over the years, and for the worse?
Knowing what your readers think is extremely important: It can help publishers figure out whether their marketing strategies are working effectively. And it provides a way of making sure that subscriptions — especially renewals — will keep rolling in.
For most people who sign up for an ezine, one thing that’s obvious is how much time and energy go into producing them. Publishers should be prepared to spend anywhere from an hour to more than 20 hours per week on these publications (and some do much more), depending on such factors as how often they plan to publish issues, whether they offer customized content, how many articles they propose to include in each issue and what kinds of graphics are going to be used.
The payoff can be excellent for publishers who put their time and energy into creating quality publications. But most ezine publishers will tell you that it’s crucial to “test the waters” before launching a full-scale operation: They’ll want to know if people are truly interested in receiving electronic magazines from them before devoting all that time and effort to producing one. Fortunately, there are several fast — and extremely inexpensive — ways of finding out if an ezine is worth pursuing or not.
Who reads your Ezine?
Subscribers are people who read your ezine. It’s a good idea to have an opt-in box or entire page for them. You might need to do it because of the law that says you cannot send emails to people too much without their permission.
How is an Ezine formatted?
A publisher can choose many things.
Template. When you are a small- to mid-size business, you can choose to do email marketing. There are many programs: Constant Contact, AWeber, iContact. These programs have templates that let you make all kinds of emails. You can also ask a web developer to create a custom template for you.
Web page. When you create an ezine, it is a web page that looks like a magazine. There are some ways to make ezines. One way is with HTML (which means Hyper Text Markup Language). People can read the magazine through their email and on other devices too.
Text only. Text-only ezines are good if you want to download less. Some people do not want a lot of images or formatting. They just want the text and go on the internet to find what they are looking for. Text-only email is also good if you want to give the appearance of a personal email, but still provide a link to your website
PDF. If you want to make a newsletter that is easy for people to read, make it into a PDF. This way, they can save the file and read it later. You can also share a link with your newsletter as PDF on your website. Keep in mind that search engines won’t find any of your content if you only have PDFs because they don’t scan attachments like PDFs.
Word document. Although it is easy to make a document on a computer, MS Word documents are one of the least preferred kinds of e-mails because they can sometimes have viruses. And this can be difficult for people who do not want to take the extra step to open an attachment.
How is an Ezine delivered?
The most popular way to send emails with a lot of people is through an email list manager. You can sign up with one, and then upload your list of people who have given you permission to email them. Then you can write the e-newsletter (the message) and schedule it for delivery. The provider helps you get permission from people, handles when they don’t reply (bounces), and tracks how many click on the link in the email.
If you want to send a message out to other people, your web host may be able to help. Some offer an electronic service or templates and ways of getting more subscribers.
A delivery can be evergreen when you publish your broadcast and it is available on your website. It can be an archived item, a web page, or even an attachment.