Designing your electronic newsletter

Of all the new ideas coming into the realm of cloud software over the last couple of years, electronic newsletters are particularly worth your attention.

The idea is simple: use existing material on the web to create your own newsletter, and give your clients access to it. Quick to do, and impressive for your clients -increasing the exposure to your brand, increase traffic to your website.

This is not an advertisement for paper.li, the Switzerland based company that has produced the software and made it available at http://paper.li. I believe in the value of competition to help innovation along. But for now, paper.li doesn’t seem to have a rival in this field, so what follows is by force about how paper.li helps you make digital newsletters

What’s the point?

If you have already created content in blogs and tweets and websites, you can bring it all together in a weekly newsletter and give your public access to it.

If you are an expert in a field and want to guide the public through what’s been happening recently, there is a quick way of doing it.

What’s the concept?

You know all those tweets people post with links to webpages?  You may have been doing it yourself: if you put a new item on your website, it’s natural to tweet with a link to the page.

Well the Innovation Centre, at the Swiss Federal Institute of technology, host a newsletter-creating bit of software at http://paper.li which brings the pages that have been tweeted about together and repackage them into a professional looking newsletter for you.

All you have to do is tell the programme what to look for and how often to do it, and it will go on creating a newsletter every week.

What does it look like?

Here’s one I’m running for an Enterprise Club based in Northamptonshire http://paper.li/dionl/1341924877

Very professional looking, I hope you’ll agree, and the content is as good as the links I can find to put in it.

How can you make it work for you?

1. Once you have a twitter account https://twitter.com   , go to http://paper.li , click on “Start your paper” and tell the programme what you want the newsletter to be called and how often you want it to come out.

2. Specify where paper.li is to get the material from by using the “search for anything…” box.

For example, I decided I wanted to produce a newspaper for members of the Enterprise Club and I knew their twitter account names so I entered those one at a time and clicked the + alongside the results each time.

3. Click “Done” in the bottom right hand corner

4. Wait for about 30 seconds, and the first edition of the Newsletter will appear on your screen. Marvel at how little effort it took you!

5. Play around with the definitions you used at 2. above until you have got it just right

6. Take the url of the newsletter from the very top left corner of your screen (eg http://paper.li/dionl/1341924877 ), send it to your audience and invite them to subscribe by clicking on the “subscribe” button near the top of the 3rd column of the newsletter.

Until your audience tells it to stop, paper.li will send them an email each time a new edition is ready, with a reminder of the address, and a link.

It really is as simple as that!

As ever, I’m very happy to help you find your way around the extra things you can do with the programme. How much trouble is it? It took me a couple of hours to get the hang of it (but I didn’t have any help – there’s no manual! ). Now it takes me about 10 minutes of I’m doing a new one for myself, or about half an hour if I’m helping a client create one.

Go on, give it a try and let other readers here know how you get on by scrolling down to the “leave a response” function.

This is a facility which can be a very powerful marketing and relationship building tool for new startups!

Best wishes!