How Not To Send Newsletters

Unsolicited Newsletters

Today I received an email from a guy called Bob. He sells bird watching holidays. His email arrived with a WORD attachment which he said was his June 2008 newsletter.

I have never signed up for Bob’s newsletter, and much as I like to feed birds in my garden, a bird watching holiday is not something I’d do willingly. I could be wrong, but I imagine you’d have to spend hours hidden in a bush somewhere, with a pair of binoculars stuck to your face. This was definitely an unsolicited email. Sometimes known as SPAM.

He’d Never Heard of BCC:

But what irked me was that he had exposed the email addresses of all recipients of his newsletter to each other. I now have a complete list of Bob’s birdwatching contacts, and more to the point, they all have a list of Bob’s birdwatching contacts plus my email address.

I started to write an email back to Bob asking him to take me off his ‘mailing list’ and then thought, forget it just delete the thing and go back to what you were doing. But the fact that he would continue to send people’s email addresses around the planet if left unchecked made me want to speak to him. Conveniently, he had given out his home phone number so I called him.

But It’s My First Newsletter

I started the conversation with something like you don’t know me . . . but. I told him I was displeased he’d sent me unsolicited email, that he was spamming, but worse (in my opinion) that he had exposed his contacts’ email addresses. He said he thought it was OK because he often received email with hundreds of other people in the to: field. And further that it didn’t think it was possible to send to lots of people without listing everyone’s email address.

After I explained to Bob that he had broken every internet marketing rule, and that you most certainly can send to multiple people without exposing everyone’s email (BCC: or blind carbon copy), I suggested he might be better off using a professional newsletter service like the excellent one provided by aweber.

He had never heard of it. But I think he wrote it down. In his own defence he muttered that this had been his first newsletter. He was a little surprised by my call, but maybe I did the right thing. He obviously doesn’t know anyone who could help him, or presumably they would have . . .

How To Do A Newsletter?

Simply sign up to a newsletter service like aweber and let them handle it for you. All you have to do is write the newsletter. The distribution and management of your mailing list is handled by people who know what they are doing.

On your web site place a sign up to your newsletter form, where people can deliberately sign up and tell you they want the newsletter. This is easy to do as the newsletter service people will make it easy for you.

Don’t be like Bob and assume it’s OK to email everyone in your address book. Because it won’t be all right. You’ll end up not being able to send email to anyone. Because your email address will end up blacklisted. How many people would have received his email and simply pressed the Spam button? Get enough of those and your domain is history.

Set the newsletter software up to double check that the recipient really wants to receive it. This is sometimes called a double opt in. The reason this is very important is that it stops malicious people and programs from signing other people up to newsletters they don’t want.

Imagine – I could take Bob’s list of email addresses and sign them all up to Battery Hen Monthly or some such thing. I am sure they would all be mightily offended. The point is Bob himself made abuses like that possible by giving his mailing list away. The only thing therefore standing in the way of such skullduggery is the double opt in protection that proper newsletter sofware insists on.

Aweber also handle the addition and deletion of people from the mailing list automatically. And you then know you have a clean list, containing only those people who really really want to receive your newsletter.

I have tried and tested several newsletter providers – but aweber (despite its recent price hike), has proved to be the best I have looked at.