No marketing is more effective than a great radio station email newsletter. Seriously. Email is still a great return on investment. But if the promotions department is really taxed, it’s possible to automate the email newsletter and still send current, topical content.

In this article, I show you how to set up a system to automate the email newsletter in simple steps. Including:

  • How to create an RSS feed to send newsletters.
  • Newsletter groups that customize information for individual users. 
  • How to send the automated newsletters.
  • Best practices 

How to Automate the Email Newsletter

Capturing email addresses is a common goal for radio stations. But just having them in the database is useless unless they’re engaged.

If you only send email blasts when trying to sell sell something, listeners are unlikely to open the email. And if they do, they’re more likely to unsubscribe. .

That’s why it’s best to get in the habit of emailing listeners regularly. Some stations (especially news and talk stations) send daily emails. Most choose a weekly distribution.

Writing every email by hand is a time consuming process.

Fortunately, automating the weekly newsletter is easy enough to do using the RSS-to-Email feature offered by most email service providers.

How RSS to Email Works

Stations that post new content with a blogging tool can have the most recent material exported to most email providers. The automated flow grabs the most recent content and populates a template. Then, the email is sent automatically at predetermined times.

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An RSS feed is required to make this work. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it’s fairly easy to do.

An RSS feed is often represented by an orange square with two white curves. To automate the weekly newsletter, the RSS feed will be used to send posts from a website to an email service provider. This will then be placed into an email template and sent to listeners.

Depending on the platform, you may already have RSS feeds for content. WordPress websites not only have an RSS feed for all the site content, but feature separate feeds for each category of content.

Categorizing WordPress posts means you can set up different email campaigns for each. How to find WordPress RSS feeds here.

Set Up the Feed

To activate the feed, log into the email service provider and set up a campaign. The exact process will be different depending on the program used for email marketing.

Set up a campaign that to check the RSS feed for new content at a specific time. If it finds something added to the website since the last email blast, it will insert that content into an email template and send it.

For example, there may be a rule for a campaign that instructs the software:

Check RSS feed for Morning Show blog category every weekday at 9:00 am. if there’s anything new, insert post Excerpt into email template and send it out.

Sometimes, the RSS feed may contain a single item. For example, a morning show may send a show recap every day at noon. Other times, the feed will include several items. For example, a news station may send daily email blasts with new stories since the last email.

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Add Newsletter Groups

Now that the content is identified, make sure it gets to the right users.

In the email software, find options for setting up groups or audience targeting. Set up a new group for each option offered.

Create a sign-up form to be published on a landing page. This is usually a widget (HTML code) that can be cut and pasted on any landing page of your website.

Design the options with checkboxes so the user can add interests.

For example:

What would you like us to send you?

  • Concert Information
  • Contests and Promotions
  • New Music Updates
  • (Personality) Highlights
  • Breaking News Alerts

Using administration tools of the website, set up a category or tag for each group. When content is added to the website, add the attribute (tag) to the post.

Best Practices to Automate the Email Newsletter

Finally, here are some pro tips to get the most from the process:

  • For best results, set up a separate feed just for newsletter content, aside from posts on the site that aren’t as promotable. Everything on the site doesn’t need to be in the newsletter. For example, create a tag called Newsletter, and set up a feed that only looks for posts with that tag.
  • Use creative tagging to set up multiple email templates that send different content to subgroups in a smart database.  For instance, fans who love the morning show get content tagged with the personality’s name. Those who love to play contests get promotion posts. Fans interested in Classic Rock concerts? There’s a tag for that!
  • You could even ask listeners to tell you what type of content that they want, as described above. This complicates the process a bit, but it can be managed with subgroups in the email software.
  • Some listeners will be in multiple categories and don’t want email boxes filled with multiple messages on the same day. So be sure to think through how each automated email newsletter impacts the others. Stagger the time and day automated emails are scheduled to send.
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Automated emails are a terrific tool. It’s a great time saver, allowing the team to spend more time creating great content to promote.

Automating the process doesn’t replace all emails. There are still times a hand-crafted email is needed.

Best of all, once the the RSS-to-email campaign is set up, it runs on autopilot, making it an effective way for even the most overworked staff to take advantage of email marketing.