Many small business owners send their email newsletters from their desktop computer system. Find out why this is an issue – and what’s a better way of sending e-newsletters.
When you were a kid, did you ever think of sending a “message in a bottle”? You know, scrawling a note, sticking it inside a bottle, sealing the bottle, and then casting the bottle into the ocean, wondering where it’d end up and if it you’d ever hear back from the recipient.
Wondering if your message got anywhere is fine for childhood playtime, but not so good in business. Yet in the business world, so many business owners take the “message in a bottle” approach to email newsletters. By that, I mean that they send their email newsletters from their desktop email programme (such as Outlook or Mail etc).
Why is it a problem to send email newsletters from Outlook?
There are a number of problems with sending your bulk email newsletters in this way (or any other desktop email system):
- Deliverability: There is a very good chance that emails sent this way will get blocked by spam filters, as they can pick up that emails sent “en masse” could be unsolicited (spam) emails. This could even mean that you get permanently “blacklisted” by certain email systems – this is something you want to avoid at all costs!
- Lack of reporting: you have no way of measuring if your email got delivered; how many people opened it; and how many people click the links in your email newsletter and many other related ststistics. So you’re really just sending your email, hoping it will arrive at its destination, not knowing for sure if it has or not.
- Formatting: emails sent from Outlook might look OK at your end, but they might not look so great at the recipient’s end, (and don’t be tempted to send the newsletter as a PDF attachment – it’s very unlikely it’ll ever get opened this way!)
- Legal compliance: it is very easy to ignore the legalities of sending email newsletters. Amongst other things, it is a legal requirement to offer a clear 'unsubscribe option', and to include a postal address of the sender within the email.
So how should you send your email newsletters?
The best way to send your email newsletters is via special email newsletter software, like the Email Campaign Manager built into our Adobe Business Catalyst system. The features differ from system to system, but most of them offer the following benefits:
- Reporting & analysis: you can see how many people opened your email, and how many people clicked on the links. This allows you to find out what interests your customers and prospects the most.
- Split testing: you can test and measure what your readers respond to best, for example by changing the subject line or offer. You can also test the best day to send your emails, or even what time in the day. Over time, this will help to make your emails newsletters more focused and removes a lot of the guesswork involved in the “message in a bottle” approach.
- Templates and formatting: email newsletter systems allow you to set up a template, giving your emails a professional look. For example when we design a new website we also include an email newsletter template branded specifically to your company, it all helps tie your marketing together and makes you look more professional.
- Subscriber management: these systems also give you a sign-up box you can put on your website so prospects can sign up for your newsletter or specials etc. Plus your subscriber database is stored with the email newsletter system, so it’s always ready to go. If a subscriber wants to unsubscribe, they can easily do so by clicking a link, without you having to do anything at your end. Note: This is required to fulfil legal obligations, if this is not present it is important that the system automatically adds an 'unsubscribe' button to the footer (as per our Adobe Business Catalyst system).
- Dedicated email servers: This is important, because just sending through hundreds of emails from your 'web hosting server' or even your Outlook (or similar) will cause a lot of the emails to be marked as spam. By 'drip feeding' the emails being sent and ensuring these are sent from a dedicated mail server, ensures a higher success rate for your emails being received by your recipients.
What are the most popular email newsletter systems?
There are a wide number of email newsletter systems. Most of them are web-based, so you can access it from any internet connected computer in the world.
Some popular choices for web-based email newsletter systems include; AWeber, Mail Chimp, Mad Mimi and of course Adobe Business Catalyst comes with an extensive built-in Email Campaign Management system with related statistics & reporting and 10,000 free emails per month. If you do an internet search for “email newsletters” you’ll find many many other suppliers too.
The way the prices are structured varies from supplier to supplier, so check them out first. Most systems offer you a free trial so you can try it out first, and our Adobe system is included for free. Many also offer really good resources and information on how to get the most out of your email newsletter campaigns.
Once you get the hang of the email newsletter system (yes, like most software, it takes a bit of getting used to), you’ll never want to go back to the “message in a bottle” approach again. You’ll love the fact that your email campaigns are so much easier to manage and measurable, so you know exactly where your emails are going.
Some systems can become a bit 'clunky' when trying to sign-up customers if they are not integrated to your website well. When we build a new website, we integrate the 'newsletter sign-up' (or whatever sign-up we may have agreed upon) into the Online Contact & Enquiry forms and many other online forms - this can not be done when integrating some third party solutions that won't talk to our integrated Customer Relationship Manager (CRM).