Ezines, short for “electronic magazines,” are online newsletters. They are sent, received, and read on the internet, versus being printed on paper and mailed through the postal service.

Like print publications, online magazines contain images and text. But content in electronic newsletters also features videos and links. They’re considered an overwhelmingly effective way to drive traffic to a website because they’re sent directly to a recipient’s email inbox … and the recipient is either a qualified prospect or has opted in.

Most businesses and nonprofits publish an ezine as a way to stay in front of their prospects and generate continued interest in their services.

Who reads your ezine?

Your subscribers. Most ezine publishers ask readers to subscribe as a way to protect themselves from spamming laws by featuring and opt-in box or entire opt-in page on their websites. While some ezines are fee-based (most often those offering privileged or specialized information), most are free.

How is an ezine formatted?

Publishers can choose from a variety of options.

Template. Now the most popular approach for small- to mid-size businesses, email marketing software programs like Constant ContactAWeber, and iContact provide templates to allow you to construct all kinds of electronic broadcasts. A web developer can also create a customized template for you to use with email marketing software.

Web page. Some ezines are simply web pages designed to read like a printed magazine. HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) is a good way to send an ezine, because readers can view your ezine as a web page without having to leave their email inbox. The ezine is simply constructed as a new page on your site. Readers view the page directly in their email, on their mobile device, or on your website.

Text-only. These are good for readers who are more selective or who want to simplify their downloading process. Text takes less time to download than HTML. Text-only emails can also give the appearance of a personal email. Most often these readers are interested in specific content – they skim through your ezine for something that catches their interest. A text-only ezine offers straight content (without images or formatting) or give a brief statement for each topic or story, and then provide a link to your website.

PDF. By creating a newsletter as a PDF file (or saving a print newsletter as a PDF) you offer readers a high-quality document. The reader can save a copy of the ezine to their computer or mobile device and to read it offline. You can also post a PDF link on your website to your PDF. (Keep in mind that search engines don’t scan the content on attachments like PDFs, so your PDF ezine content will not be indexed and included in search results.)

Word document. Although easy to construct on a desktop, MS Word documents are among the least preferable kind of ezines to send, since they’re usually sent as an attachment … and attachments can harbor viruses. Giving your readers a virus is a fast way to lose them. And as crazy as it sounds, readers don’t like to take that extra step to open an attachment.

How is it delivered?

The most popular method for mass distribution is through an email list manager. You can register with providers (like Constant ContactAWeber, and iContact), upload your opted-in email list, construct your ezine, and schedule it for delivery. The provider helps you manage your opt-ins, handle bounces, and track click-throughs.

You can also check with your web host. Many offer electronic broadcast services, templates, and opt-in alternatives.

Your delivery can also can be evergreen when you publish your broadcast on your website, either as an archived item, an individual web page, or an attachment – and become a resource for readers.

About the author: Kathy Widenhouse

kathy - profile picKathy Widenhouse is a freelance Christian writer. She produces content and copywriting for faith-based organizations and nonprofits.

This article was first published by Kathy Widenhouse