I felt this is a topic often either forgotten, overlooked or ignored by so many businesses that I needed to write this article today to update everyone on the etiquette and law of using email for a newsletter and creating an email list! So many people make the same mistakes and then wonder looking back where it all went wrong! It doesn’t have to be hard work though and can in fact be very simple and even automated for you with a number of bells and whistles included at no cost – making your life simple!
Issues all email users MUST remember and cover in their list management.
- Firstly all email addresses must be obtained with full permission for the use of newsletters! This means you can’t just harvest them for your client records, directories or even your own address book. You must ask permission from all list members that they agree to receive your newsletter! This is called an opt in.
- Opt outmust also be considered and an automated opt out must be included in all emails, newsletters, etc to ensure you are compliant with the Data Protection Act 1984. If you send out an email or electronic newsletter there must be included a method for the receiver to stop receiving them in the future in a simple way, without delay and with guarantee.
- Data protection – it scares me how many people (and people who should know better that is too) that send out bunk emails (emails to more than 10 individuals) using just Outlook or a similar program or worse still actually list all the email addresses in the To or even the CC (Carbon Copy) and NOT use the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) facility. You must ensure that all email addresses are protected from view from others within the list!
- Data Security – how secure is your email list? Is it password protected if it is on a shared computer (this includes family computers share with a partner and children too). You must ensure that only yourself and those with permission to access it can do so otherwise again you are in breach of the Data Protection Act 1984
- Server Acceptance – please remember that most email servers (the computers that control, send, deliver and receive email online for individuals, companies and internet providers) will happily block you and your email address if it feels you are spamming (even if you feel you are not). What does this mean? Well basically if you send out an email or newsletters to a group of people or regularly send out group emails without the proper back office management you stand a high chance of being blocked and losing your email account or just not being able to send to those individuals or companies. You honestly want to lose the ability to be able to send an email to everyone on your list that uses Sky email or Virgin email or other email providers?
- Analytics – Do you honestly know how many of your emails/newsletters are received, opened, read and clicked through if they include links? If not why not? There is no excuse and this is essential list management. If the email address are wrong and not being received they should be removed from the list. If they are not being opened maybe they are not considered news worthy and you need to work on your credibility. If email/newsletter receivers are not clicking on links included within your email then again you must know these things so you can do something about it. This is all related to ROI (Return On Investment) – your time, energy and in many cases money setting up, creating and sending out these communications!
- Do you provide receivers the opportunity to share your newsletter with others and therefore increase your potential reach and new subscribers for your newsletters.
OK that’s some of the basics you MUST remember and no excuses, but lets now be a little more positive now, and consider some of the many and huge advantages of sending a regular newsletter to your stakeholders (all those with an interest in your organisation – clients, suppliers, sponsors, shareholders, etc).
- You stay in the front of their minds if it is sent out regularly – at a minimun every 3 months or every other month but ideally a minimum of once a month. More regular unless they are paying for it and expect value for money is a waste of time normally.
- Enables you to ensure that everyone receives current and important news about your organisation.
- Is an opportunity to receive sponsorship from advertisers, joint venture partners or strategic alliances through paid for advertising on the newsletter!
- Develop and increase awareness of your products or services and inform your subscribers of everything you do and not just the things they use you for. For example I have a huge number of clients whom just attend my workshops or training courses but once they know we can supply marketing materials like banners and exhibition stands or t-shirts, etc too they then use us for that as well!
- It is about Know, Like & Trust – you are building a relationship with your subscribers and these days it’s all about relationship marketing. People need to know about you, they need to grow to like you and they also need to trust you. All of these things can and do take time, but this is a brilliant method of enabling that process.
So just how can you do all of this simply, quickly and without huge cost, time or technical knowledge issues? Its very simple… use an email management system to do it all for you! I use MailChimp.com to organise and manage my email lists and newsletters. It includes all of the above and much much more. (There are many other systems too, but this has a comprehensive free version and is compatible with a large number of other business systems and software – ideal for a business startup or small organisation. It even has a smartphone app for management too).
MailChimp – http://www.mailchimp.com
It even creates sign up boxes for your website, facebook, twitter, etc (this is my own sign up box, which many of you have seen in the past) – http://elizabethgraney.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ba9c5ae9c7f3141f8d0c69fdc&id=6a7d9c43cb
I am all for a simple, easy life and I dont have the time to run around dealing with what is basically cramp and annoyance. This way I know that everyone is happy – the law, my clients, my subscribers and of course me!
Please also look at the article I wrote back in December 2011 called “Acquiring Email Addresses from Clients”