This post is for you if you have been thinking about sending out your own newsletter, but don’t know how to get your list started without being in danger of being called a dirty spammer.
Many people have an email opt in box on their websites but have never gotten around to sending out a newsletter. If you are ready to start this process, then you want to warm up a cold list and add current clients, friends and close colleagues to your list in a way that decreases the possibility of unsubscribes or reports of spam.
Be sure to sign up for an email service provider such as MailChimp rather than sending out emails from Outlook, Gmail or any other service you use for your business and personal email. There are two main reasons for not sending newsletters from your personal email. First, bulk emails sent from those services get through spam filters more effectively. Second, email newsletter services provide people with an opportunity to easily unsubscribe.
Most email providers have little tolerance for people who receive even a small percentage of un-subscribes and spam reports from a particular mailing. Your account could be suspended right out of the gate by sending a mailing to a cold list full of people who have forgotten they signed up to your list. To reduce the chance for problems, I suggest starting out by writing a plain text warm-up email message that is specific and personal to each of the following groups of people below giving them a heads up:
1. People who have signed up to your list but have never received anything.
2. Family and close friends (they would never call you a spammer or immediately unsubscribe).
3. Close colleagues in inner circle.
4. Colleagues that are not in your immediate circle of friends.
5. Current clients within the past year.
A plain text email (one that doesn’t have your marketing or header image on it and looks pretty much like a regular email) is less obviously a mass email. And since it looks more like you sent the email to them personally, which they really know you didn’t but it is one of those subliminal things, you have a better chance that someone will subscribe.
Here is the process I recommend:
1. Export all of your contacts into an Excel spreadsheet. Remove all columns that you won’t need and keep their first name in one column, Last name in the next column and their email address in the third column. People in group one above already signed up to your email list so will already be in your email program and you can skip them for this step.
2. Go through each name on this master spreadsheet and categorize the list by type of contact such as Family/Close Friends, Close colleagues, Regular Colleagues, and Clients.
3. Create a separate Excel spreadsheet for each category. Carefully go over your master Excel list, separating the names and emails onto the appropriate spreadsheets.
4. Create separate named email lists in MailChimp for each of these groups.
5. Import the names and emails on each spreadsheet into the appropriate MailChimp email lists.
6. Write separate messages for each group using the tone and content you would use when writing to that group. Write it as if you were writing to a specific person in each group. Begin the message with the type of opener you would use if sending that person a single email. Tell them what you have been up to and that you are starting a newsletter. Describe the type and content you will be sending out in your newsletter and let them know the frequency. Inform them about any specific benefits they might receive from getting your newsletter.
7. The ending of the warm up messages will vary depending on the group.
a. If you know you have permission to mail to a specific category, such as people who have already signed up for you list or family and close friends then tell them in the message that they have already been added to your newsletter list. Then let them know that you will totally understand if they would like to unsubscribe and provide the unsubscribe link right there. If these people do not unsubscribe from this breakout list, in three days add them to your main newsletter list.
b. For all the other categories of people, who have not ever given you permission to email a newsletter to them, create an ending to the targeted message, which includes an invitation to subscribe and give them a link to do so. When people subscribe to your list in this way you will not have to manually add them. If they don’t subscribe then don’t send them a newsletter.
8. Under no circumstances should you export your entire email address book into MailChimp. Seriously, there will be email addresses in your contact list that don’t like you or that you probably don’t even know, and MailChimp will close you down if you get too many unsubscribes or spam reports from a mailing. (For more information on not being a sketchy spammer: http://eepurl.com/hcqX)
As a hint, when using MailChimp don’t use their plain text campaigns since you will not get to use hyperlinks. Use a regular campaign but take out any formatting or images except the footer that you have to include with the free version of MailChimp. Write your message with no embellishments as if you were sending it from your regular email. You can include the subscribe link or the unsubscribe link as the case warrants.
When the process is complete you should have one main list with all of the people having given you permission to send them your newsletter. You can create groups in this mail list if you want to be able to email different messages to a particular segment in the future.