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Email List Management

27
Jun

Don’t buy or rent email lists, unless you know 110% that the company who offers such lists is kosher. If anyone offers you a list of 1 million emails for $99, or whatever price, run like crazy from them.

Same applies to joining online list services, such as YourLuckyListThe List Machine and ListDotCom. Although they promise you access to thousands of “subscribers” I have a feeling that those thousands of people are there for the same reason you are – to offer their stuff to you – so they won’t be so responsive to your offers. That’s just my experience, you’re free to give them a try – let me know how you do, please.

My philosophy behind email marketing is – relationships – and the only way to build a relationship is if you build your own list. But, you see, building your own list doesn’t necessarily mean you have to build it yourself, alone. You can team up with others, for example with someone who offers a service or product which is complimentary to yours, and do some kind of join venture with them.

Category : Driving Traffic to Your site | E-newsletter Publishing | Email Delivery Best Practices | Email List Building | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Small Business Marketing | Blog
1
Jun

Programs such as Outlook, Eudora, Thunderbird or online email services such as Yahoo, or Hotmail are not to be used. They may be free to use, but will not give you all the options you might like to have, and besides, may also be unlawful, depending on your country’s anti-spam laws, if any.

Most Internet Service Providers, and most online email services limit the number of recipients that you can use in any single email message. Usually that number is around 20, or so, and it varies widely from ISP to ISP. This means that, depending on the size of your list, it may take you several sends to complete the “blast”. Although this may be acceptable if you have a list of 50 or so people, anything beyond that will be impractical.

If you’re using your own email program to send your e-newsletter you don’t, for the most part, have no idea what happens to your beautiful creation once it leaves your computer. You don’t really know if your audience receives your messages, if they open them, if they click on any links that are included in the content, etc.

If you’re really strapped for cash, and have a small list I can recommend this new Email Service Provider called MadMimi. Their service is free for lists under 100 subscribers.

Last word on using your own email program: if you have to use it, please, remember to use the BCC: field for your recipients. BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy, and it simply means your recipients will not see each other’s names and email addresses.

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email Delivery Best Practices | Email Design | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Small Business Marketing | Blog
18
Dec

I get this kind of question a lot, and also see it posted on online forums hosted by various ESPs. The questions is: “Should I resend an email (ezine, offer, solo mailing) to my whole list or only to those that have not opened (or responded to) the original send?” Immediately following this question is: “How do I do that?”

I will leave the “Why?” for you to answer, because it will be different to different people. If you send your ezine once a week, then I’d say “Probably no”, but if you send it once a month, I’d advise you to resend perhaps 2 weeks after the original send.

With special offers and solo mailings, it will be different, too. These types of emails are more aggressive in nature, so you may want to consider resending these more often than you would a regular ezine.

In this short article I am going to give you the “How”: specific instructions on how to create a temporary list of subscribers who haven’t opened an email. This technique will work with any Email Service Provider system that shows you exactly which email addresses were registered as “opens”, but I will use Constant Contact as an example. If you’d like instructions on how to do this in 1ShoppingCart, email me.

This technique works in general, when you want to re-send an email campaign to a list, but exclude those subscribers who have previously opened or clicked on a link.

  • Create a duplicate of your existing list, name it “Resend xyz” where “xyz” stands for the name of your email that you’d like to resend, e.g. “Resend C2C.v2.14” would stand for “Contacts2Clients Volume 2. Issue 14.”
    If you have several lists, create the new one by merging your list. This list will now contain addresses of all your subscribers to whom you sent the original email.
  • In Constant Contact, go to Emails > Reports, then click on the number of “opens” for your original send. This will display a list of subscribers. At the bottom of the list click the button that reads “Save as List.” Name your new list “Opened xyz.”
  • go to Contacts > Export. In the Contact List drop down menu select “Opened xyz” list, then export it in either CSV or TXT format, it doesn’t matter. This will create a file called export.csv in your download folder on your computer (most likely on your desktop)
  • Locate this file on your PC and rename it “Opened xyz.csv”
  • Back to Constant Contact. Remove the subscribers who have already opened your email campaign by selecting the “Resend xyz” list and then upload the file “Opened xyz.csv” from your PC (follow this click-path Contacts > Manage Contacts > Remove)

This way your new, temporary list “Resend xyz” will contain only those subscribers who have not previously opened your original email campaign.

Use this list to resend your email campaign, then delete it. If you intend to resend several times, then rename the “Resend xyz” list as “opened” and remove the “new” openers from it. Each time you do it, the list will get smaller and smaller.

Things to Keep in Mind When Resending Your Emails

  • How often do you normally send your emails?
  • Are your subscribers used to seeing resends in their in boxes?
  • Are you going to antagonize some subscribers who didn’t open your email in the first place, because the subject line wasn’t enticing enough?
  • Should you also change the subject line?

You see, there are so many variables, and things to consider, and we’re out of time and space, as I am trying to keep this last issue of 2007 a short one.

Bonus TIP:
Before doing any “open heart surgery” on your lists, save a backup copy of your active subscribers to your computer.

Copyright 2007 by Boris Mahovac – Your Ezine Coach

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email Delivery Best Practices | Email List Management | Email Service Providers | Small Business Marketing | Tracking and Split Testing | Tracking Email Opens | Blog
25
Sep

Moving to double opt-in is a good idea, but you have to be careful how you implement it, otherwise you may end up inadvertently decimating your list!

Although the following instructions are specific to Constant Contact, the principle is applicable to other Email Service Providers that use a similar approach to handling single vs. double opt-in.

I recommend using what I call a “soft confirm” approach. Here’s how it works:

  1. Log in to your account.
  2. Turn on “Confirmed Opt-in” under the My Settings tab.
  3. Once this is set, start including a “Permission Reminder” at the top of your emails.

This will allow your subscribers to confirm their intention to receive your messages. The beauty of this approach is that you can still send emails to all of your subscribers, both confirmed and non-confirmed. Ideally, once your whole list is double opt-in, you will start enjoying a higher deliverability rate, because your account will be “upgraded” behind the scenes, and you emails will be delivered by top-tier servers which are ranked higher with major ISPs.

This way you will confirm your subscribers “softly”, over time, and switching to double opt-in will not cause you to lose any subscribers.

Alternatively – and I wouldn’t recommend you use this approach unless you’re 100% sure what the consequences might be – you could send your subscribers a “confirmation email”. This is a special kind of email, generated by Constant Contact. Once this email is sent you can’t send any more email to the same subscriber until s/he confirms. This can, potentially, be a very dangerous tactic. Let me explain.

Let’s say your open rate is an average 35%. This means, if your confirmation email gets opened by 35% of your subscribers, that’s the most you can expect to have confirm. In other words, if you start with a list of 1,000 subscribers, you may end up with a list thats only 1/3 the size of the original.

Most likely, some, if not most, of the other 650 subscribers would have been happy to continue to receive your emails, but they will be cut off. You wouldn’t want that to happen, now, would you?

There is one instance, however, when you’d want to send a confirmation email to a subset of your subscribers. If you’re doing your list maintenance on a regular basis, you will have a sub list of subscribers who never open your email messages. After a while – you decide if it’s going to be after 3 months of inactivity or 6 weeks or whatever – you may want to prune your list of these “dead” leads.

This is especially important with ESPs such as Constant Contact who charge you by the size of your list, or some others, such as Vertical Response, who charge you by each email sent. In any case, you may want to decide to get rid of the subscribers who are non-responsive, and one way of doing that is to create a sub-list containing those email addresses and sending them, and only them, a confirmation email.

In your confirmation email you can say something like: “You have been a subscriber to my ezine for a number of months. However, my records show that you have not opened a single message in the last 3 months. If you’re still interested in receiving then [call to action]”

Mind you, those open statistics your ESP is showing are not 100% accurate. They do not account for people who receive your emails in text format, because those cannot be tracked. Also, people who have image display turned off also won’t show up in your statistics, so bear that in mind when you go pruning!

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email Delivery Best Practices | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Blog
12
Sep

This is a very common practice, especially with those businesses that deal with clients mostly off line, such as retailers or dentists. When a new customer walks in to your shop or practice, you can ask him to sign up for your email newsletter. You then enter that information to your database, and then regularly upload the new information to your ESP account.

Uploading these new subscribers shouldn’t be a problem, however, you may run into difficulties updating email addresses of your existing clients who are already receiving your ezine. Ideally, your subscribers should update their own information on line, using your ESP’s forms and tools (that’s one of the reasons you pay that monthly fee, right?). However, sometimes, customers feel more comfortable giving you their new email address over the phone, or more likely, in person, while they are making another purchase, or visiting your place of business.

The problem here lies in the fact that most ESPs track your subscribers by their email address, not their name, or some other identifier. Because of this, updating an email address of an existing subscriber may be tricky.

If you’re using 1ShoppingCart, Aweber or GetResponse, uploading a list containing new email addresses will trigger a “confirmation email” to be sent to those new subscribers.
Since you’re only updating existing subscribers’ data, you will have to do it by hand, one by one by manually searching for the subscribers whose address needs updating and then entering the new address directly.

However, if you’re using Constant Contact, and you have double opt-in turned off, you can upload your “new” and existing subscribers. If you accidentally upload some of the old subscribers who have opted out on line, that’s not going to be a problem since Constant Contact maintains a Do Not Mail list, and those addresses will not be added to your list.

Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Off Line Marketing Strategies | Blog
2
Sep

This is a complex question, and must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Here are some general tips on importing your list:

  • Depending on where you live and where your ESP is based, different rules and laws will apply. For example, regardless of where you live, if your ESP is US-based, then the CAN-SPAM act would apply. Your local laws may be even more restrictive, so consider that before choosing an ESP.
  • Some ESPs, such as Constant Contact, will let you import any type of list as long as you give them your word that the list is kosher, and, unless you have confirmation option turned “on”, you’ll be able to email this list without restrictions. This works beautifully for people who may be transferring an existing list from a different ESP, or are simply planning to start using email to reach their existing clients on a regular basis. With Constant Contact, you can confirm those emails over time, using a so-called “permission reminder.”
  • However, don’t be tempted to upload one of those “million leads” CDs, because you’ll be labelled as a spammer quicker than you can say, “double opt in!”
  • If you’re planning to purchase leads from list brokers, most ESPs won’t allow you to import such lists. Notable exception is 1ShoppingCart; they still allow purchased leads from services such as ListBuilder. All imports still need to be confirmed though, unless you hire somebody to manually enter them as “old clients,” one by one, but be very careful with this strategy, if you enter too many “old clients” your account could get suspended, or at least your ability to add “old clients”.
  • You may be tempted to try to do the list management on your own, by setting up a mail server, and running an Email List software, such as AutoResponse Plus, on your own. This is so complex that I won’t even go there, but suffice is to say that you will have a hard time finding a reputable web hosting company who will allow you to upload purchased lists. Better stick to using an ESP, unless you’re a web-programming guru, and are ready to fight your own battle white-listing your domain with the likes of Yahoo, MSN and AOL – good luck with that!
  • Once you have imported your list, you will have different results in terms of responsiveness of your list, depending on how “fresh” the list is, among other factors. If you’ve been in business for years and have never contacted your list of clients by email, it is very likely at least some of your email would be labelled as spann, even if you were trying to import a “clean, honest” list of your own clients.
  • When importing a list expect to loose subscribers, anywhere from 10%, to as much as 90% of subscribers. Don’t despair, though, those who do not confirm their intention to receive email from you are, most likely, not your best prospects anyway, so don’t shed any tears over this.
Category : E-newsletter Publishing | Email Delivery Best Practices | Email List Building | Email List Management | Email Marketing | Email Service Providers | Blog