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Email Newsletters: The Header

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Managing Subscriber addresses: At the top of your email message you see the header, where you insert addresses and a subject heading. It all looks simple enough, but there are some tricks and tips you should know, and one very important warning. Let's start with that warning:

In addressing your newsletter, do not put subscriber names or email addresses in the TO or the CC (Carbon Copy) field. Addresses in either of these fields are visible to all recipients. And, if you have one unscrupulous person on your list, that person could start sending spam to the rest of the list.

Always put subscriber addresses in the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) field, where no one but you will see their addresses. This is very important in retaining their confidence. In fact, this might now be the single most important point to remember if you send an email message to any group.

So, to whom should the newsletter be addressed? Probably yourself. You can use your regular address, or set up a special address for the newsletter only. One other thought: use the CC field as a place to put the name of someone who wants to make their address known. For example, if you include a special offer by a third party in the newsletter, you can CC that third party, and as a result provide a backup email address.

Subject line: Make this line as strong as possible. It's the hook that encourages the reader to scroll down the page to your article(s). Try looking through the subject lines of the newsletters you now receive, and see what works for you.

The simplest approach, and an effective one, is to put the name of your newsletter in the subject line. That works well if readers find the content consistently helpful or interesting. But don't depend on just the name - here are some ideas for other hooks that may increase readership.

Make it descriptive, since many email users quickly scan the subject lines and quickly hit the Delete button if it doesn't immediately grab their attention. If that descriptive text hints at a solution to a problem shared by your readers, then you've got a winner.

Here's another subject line tip that may help you increase readership. Several email gurus recommend putting the date of the issue in the subject line, and I've tried that myself. In the limited testing I've done, it seemed to increase the number of clicks on the embedded ads.

This is how a recent subject line for Abbott's Communication Letter looked to my subscribers:

"April 27-04 Communication Letter - Communication & Company Size"

Explanations: April 27th is, of course, the date. Communication Letter is an abbreviation of the name of my newsletter; and Communication & Company Size is the title of the article that week.

Altogether, the whole subject line seems a bit long, but it does cover several bases, so it's what I'll use until I've had time to do extensive testing.

In summary: Don't look at the header of your email message as something to be finished and forgotten quickly. It can make or break your newsletter.

Robert F. Abbott, the author of A Manager's Guide to Newsletters: Communicating for Results, writes and publishes Abbott's Communication Letter. Read more articles about Internet communication, as well as email and printed newsletters at: http://

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