The "e" revolution has brought immediacy and opportunities hitherto undreamt of to companies looking to market themselves and their products. One often overlooked promotional avenue is the email newsletter. IDG List Services  has summarised the benefits of email newsletters neatly on their Industry Standard Newsletters page:
"E-mailing your message is a new and exciting direct response medium. The advantages are numerous:
Email newsletters are inexpensive, and their potential to reach people is huge. Email is a popular medium. It is also a simple way of getting a message across. As has been highlighted elsewhere, people don't read graphics; they read text . Colin Lloyd, outgoing president of the Direct Marketing Association, was quoted as saying:
"Email is an incredible tool, but its importance has been sadly overlooked. I have found no better (or easier) way to get my ideas across to people from around the world" 
There are other cases which back up this assertion:
"Internet software developed Perseus Development Corp. has marketed itself through trade show promotion, public relations, Web banner ads and direct marketing. But when it comes to generating immediate sales, nothing has worked as well as e-mail marketing…[which, after just 6-9 months] accounts for one-third to one-half of the company's sales leads" 
Email newsletters not only allow companies to stay in touch with their customers, which is vital in itself, but they also have a high 'pass-along' rate. An email newsletter will also keep a company in the forefront of people's minds. This can be useful in a number of ways. It can not only sway their own purchasing decisions, but also influence their recommendations to friends, colleagues and contacts. Allied to this, it keeps people informed. Not only is a company showing that it is still aware of its customers' continued existence, but it is also able to provide them with useful information on a regular basis (providing that the newsletter is a newsletter and not just a sales letter). A further key factor is that email newsletters can be highly targeted.
However, people may like reading email, but Spam (unsolicited mail) is unlikely to endear a company to potential subscribers. Opt-in or opt-out are the choices. Opting-in means that people have to consciously agree to continue receiving a newsletter, otherwise they get no more; opting-out signifies that they must consciously request not to receive more, otherwise they will just keep coming.
Here is a sample of email newsletters from the field of engineering which illustrate many of the above points. There are basically two types of newsletter: the company/group newsletter, and the general news-reporting newsletter (i.e. service which reports on product releases, news stories, events, etc. from a range of sources rather than being confined to reporting these areas in the context of a single company or group).
Company newsletters are many and varied. Typical examples are the Porsche Newsletter  and Ricardo's New Engine News , which appears monthly and is offered in paper format or by email in Word format. Of the more general sources, in the UK, Engineeringtalk , and its sister publications Manufacturingtalk , and Electronicstalk , provide product news direct to the desktop on a weekly basis. News is summarized and individual stories can be requested and are delivered immediately by email. Feedback is provided to those who have submitted news stories or articles.
The US-based Manufacturing.Net  offers a selective email newsletter that highlights the latest additions to the site. Product releases, news stories, and tradeshow information sent out match each user's profile. The newsletter is weekly. A similar service from Australia, IndustrySearch , "Australia's leading manufacturing portal", does not offer the profile option, but does offer to put breaking news in your inbox daily. The Manufacturing Times  is an example of a dual service site. Its monthly issues covering news articles, contracts awarded and contract prospects are available both on the Web and as a monthly email newsletter.
For specific manufacturing areas, Cahners Business Information  is a case where a publisher of online magazines on particular engineering topics offers a free email product alert newsletter with each magazine. Titles include: control engineering, design news, industrial maintenance and plant operation, medical device technology, metalworking digest, modern materials handling, etc. Another example is the Surface Finishing.com , which not only offers an email newsletter (with HTML, AOL, and text options), but also email bulletins in other areas (jobs, supplier announcements, training and education, bookstore).
For standards, specifications and technical documentation, a good example comes from Global Engineering Documents . They offer a number of separate email newsletters, apart from their main Global Engineering Journal (formerly TechSavvy Journal). The individual sectors covered are: automotive, aerospace and aviation, electro, government and military, and telecom. GlobalSpec.com provides instant access to over 450,000 electrical, mechanical and optical components. Its newsletter gives updates on the newest suppliers and product areas as they are added to the company's web site.
Not only commercial operations offer this type of information. Fieldbus Online , part of the not-for-profit Fieldbus Foundation, offers users the ability to sign up to be kept informed of the latest fieldbus news. Similarly, the Remanufacturing Institute , a US voluntary organisation, provides the Reman Bulletin, a bi-weekly newsletter.
The existence of these and other newsletters (as well as other Web resources) can be uncovered on the EEVL  gateway site.
CADE, Boots Library
Nottingham Trent University