eStationery and eNewsletters

How eStationery Works

an eStationery or eNewsletter file is basically a portable web page that is sent out via email. When you access a page on the web, your web browser reads the programming code for the page and requests the images and other graphical information that the page is mentioning. Since you are already reading the information from off the page's server, the images are reqested from the same source and show up on the screen.

The challenge with eStationery is getting all images and other information to show up for the recipient no matter what email system they are using. MS Outlook has built-in stationery packages that will work fine for other Outlook users, but people who use a web-based email system are likely not going to see anything.

Since the information being read is not off of a current server location, the images do not show up properly. The key to making a proper eStationery package is to write the programming code so that is calls up the images and layouts from the remote server at the time it is being read.

What you end up with in effect is the mail program accessing a server as if you were viewing a web site. It creates the 'site' for you live in your email program. Because no images are attached to the message it loads fast, has a much smaller message size and can be read by any mail program that can understand basic HTML commands.

Using eStationery with Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Netscape Mail etc.

Most POP3 Mail programs like those above now have an option for using stationery. With a properly designed package it is simple to select the new design as the default layout for messages. Once that is done, clicking on the NEW MESSAGE or COMPOSE MESSAGE box will bring up the eStationery instantly.

Using eStationery with a web-based system (yahoo, hotmail etc.)

For those who use a web-based email system an additional program is required to use the eStationery. A program such as MS Frontpage or DreamWeaver will allow you to view and edit the content of the eStationery message. Once that is done you can copy and paste the resulting code into your web-based email message and send it.

The end result for both methods is the same.

Using an eNewsletter

Since eStationery is generally one message to one person it is easier to use than when you want to send a message to a great number of people. For that purpose you need to use a database system or contact manager.

It is easy to edit your newsletter content with Frontpage or DreamWeaver if you are not adding additional images. All images that you wish to include must be properly coded into the design and uploaded to a remote server. If that step is missed or done incorrectly then the recipients of your message will not see the images.

Once the coding is complete you can send it out in a number of ways:

1) Outlook and Outlook Express allow you to send an eNewsletter to your contact list using a one-time stationery picker. This keeps your current eStationery layout as your default for day to day messages and uses the newsletter layout as a one-time event.

2) Using a web-based system you can also select all recipients in your address book. Since there is no default setup for web-based systems, you simply need to paste in the eNewsletter code and send the message.

3) If you are using a program like ACT! or Maximizer you can integrate your eNewsletter with an existing client database. Maximizer for example has a small add-on program that will load your eNewsletter design and send it to all selected recipients.

4) The fourth option is to use an online database system integrated with an existing web site. This option is the best solution for a number of reasons. In this case, there is an address list sitting on a remote server. Your web site has a sign up page where interested parties can enter their email address and personal information. This information is automatically added to the database. When you send out a message your input the code via an online form and send the message. Recipients that wish to change there email address, personal information or remove themselves from the list can click a small link at the bottom of your message and do that instantly.

The first three processes involve a fair bit of manual entry and maintenance. Each person you wish to send to must be added to the list and removed manually if requested. There is no automatic additions to the database and no link via a web site that manages all that for you. For around $30.00 USD / Month it's a simple and straight-forward option. As an added bonus, your existing client database can be imported into the online version as well.

ePostcards, eInvoices, eFeature Sheets and more

Almost anything designed in print can also be done on the web and via email. For other items such as ePostcards and the like, the process is very similar to that of an eNewsletter.

Once the design is completed and the correct text entered, it can be sent via Outlook, a web-based system or even via the online database. In most cases the database will not be used as the ePostcard will most likely be sent to a select person or persons. If you are marketing to a list of past and present clients, an ePostcard with 'Just Listed' or 'Just Solds' may be a nice way to go. In that case, the online database would again be a huge help.


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