The reading level for this article is Novice
Note: This article stems from my earlier article “Creating an Email Newsletter.”
Do you have a system to collect prospect information and a method of communicating with these potential customers? If not, you surely should implement one.
Having an email newsletter is a very effective method of collecting information from your prospects. If you do not have an email newsletter then you are missing out on a very effective medium for turning your prospects into customers and your customers into lifetime prospects. No matter whether you sell a product, a service, or earn revenue through advertising, and no matter what topic your web site is on, you can benefit by sending a period email newsletter to your subscribers.
To create an email newsletter you will need software that can handle subscribe and unsubscribe requests and enable you to send your messages quickly to all your subscribers. If you have a very small list, say one or two dozen subscribers, you could manage it manually using BCC in the Eudora email client or distribution lists in the Outlook email client. You would need to create a form on your web site and install and use the Perl program FormMail.pl to convert the submitted data into a readable format.
However, if you have more than a couple dozen subscribers, the time required for manual management may begin to become excessive. In this situation, I’d recommend purchasing software that will enable you to automate all your list management tasks.
Email list management software will allow you to do just this. But there is great variation in the quality and features of these programs. Here are the features you’ll want to look for.
Choosing an Email List Management Program
Web based versus PC Based
Some email list management programs are PC based, meaning they are programs that you must download and install on your computer, and some are web based. Web based software enables you to access your lists and send out newsletters from any computer and runs right through your Internet browser. It also enables you to receive all upgrades for free.
If you ever travel or want to be able to access your lists from more than one computer, say, at home and at the office, then be sure to select software that is web based such as IntelliContact Pro. Further, web based software offers a few advantages in managing subscriptions, as discussed below.
When selecting web based software, you have two choices. You can either find script programs and install them on your own server, or use software that runs from another server. This latter option will generally be best as it can become quite complicated trying to install Perl, ASP, JSP, or PHP scripts on your server.
Generally, payment for web based software will be on a per month, per quarter, or per annum basis, where as PC based programs will be a larger lump sum payment.
Automating Your Subscribe and Unsubscribe Requests
Your email list management software should be able to handle subscribe and unsubscribe requests automatically. Some software, including most PC based programs will require you to still use the Perl program FormMail.pl and then filter your emails for subscribe and unsubscribe requests. Many web based programs, however, will provide you with the exact HTML code you need to create the subscription form on your web site. The better web based programs also provide a manage subscription link at the bottom of each email that enables subscribers to update their information or unsubscribe from a list, automating everything for you.
Personalization of Emails
Another powerful feature of many email list management programs is the ability to use mail merge capabilities to personalize each email that you send. In other words, you could put the following in the subject line
[fname], Your June Garden Tips Newsletter
and if your subscriber’s first name was Betty she would see in her inbox:
Betty, Your June Garden Tips Newsletter
This personalization of your emails will increase readership and enable you to develop a one-on-one relationship with each subscriber, begin to earn their trust, and build rapport. This will be an essential part of turning your prospects into customers and your customers into lifetime evangelizers who will tell all their friends about your wonderful product or service.
You may also want to mail merge additional fields into your messages besides first name and last name. In selecting your software, be sure to look for the ability to have a number of custom mail merge fields. This can be very powerful. With this capability you could send an email such as:
I wanted to personally thank you for your purchase of [product] on [date]. How are you doing with [product]? Do let me know if I can answer any questions.
Bill Jennison, President
Garden Feeds, Inc.
The mail merge feature would insert the proper entry in each field straight from your database and send all your emails out in a matter of seconds.
Bounceback email handling
Bouncebacks are emails that are sent to email accounts that no longer exist or are full. Essentially, the mail server that handles the delivery of the email will send you a response stating that your message did not make it. All email list management software programs are able to manage subscribe and unsubscribe requests and send out messages, however many of these are unable to effectively manage bouncebacks.
Without integrated bounceback email handling all the non-deliverable emails will be sent back to you. Once you start to develop a larger list it can be rather bothersome to receive a few hundred emails each time you send out a mailing.
Ideally, the email software you use will be able to manage your bouncebacks for you. Whenever a bounceback is received, the software makes a note of the address and if another bounceback is received the email address will be sent to a list of dead addresses. This remove capability is very important since if you continuously send out emails with many bouncebacks you may be blacklisted by some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as a spammer. This is surely something you want to avoid.
The ability to send out HTML emails has been around for quite some time. Most good email list management programs support the ability to send out messages that include graphics and formatted text. This is surely something you’ll want to look for.
However, not all of your users have the ability to view email messages in HTML format. This percentage is usually between 10-20%. Instead of seeing your aesthetically pleasing email they might see a string of meaningless code. Using most email list management programs, these 10-20% of users will open up emails from you and be very inclined to unsubscribe or confuse your mail as spam.
To avoid this, look for programs that use multi-part MIME to send out messages. When you send an HTML email in multi-part MIME, users who do not have the ability to view HTML messages will receive the email in the usual text format.
What I Use
To manage my lists and send out my email I personally use a program called IntelliContact Pro. IntelliContact Pro has all of the above features and even quite a few more that really make things very simple. The website for IntelliContact Pro is http://www.intellicontact.com. I’d highly recommend this software.
Here’s a quick review of the information and concepts above.
|1||Email newsletters are a very effective way of turning prospects into customers and customers into lifetime clients.|
If you have a small list you can create an email newsletter for free by placing a form on your website, using FormMail.pl to manage subscribe requests, and using the mailing list feature or BCC field in email clients such as Outlook or Eudora.
|3||With larger lists managing subscribe and unsubscribe requests can take quite a bit of time. To manage these requests automatically you can use email list management software.|
When selecting software to manage your list, look for programs that are web based and hosted on a server for you.
|5||Web based email list management software such as IntelliContact Pro (http://www.intellicontact.com) gives you the ability to automate send personalized emails, handle your bouncebacks, and send HTML email.|