Are your email newsletters suffering from the “message in a bottle” approach?

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

Are your email newsletters suffering from the "message in a bottle" approach?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).

Why is it a problem to send email newsletters from Outlook?

There are a number of problems with sending your email newsletter from Outlook (or any other desktop email system):

  1. 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!
  2. 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. So you’re really just sending your email, hoping it will arrive at its destination, not knowing for sure if it has or not.
  3. 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 get opened!)
  4. Legal compliance: it is very easy to ignore the legalities of sending email newsletters. Amongst other things, it is a legal requirement to offer an 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. The features differ from system to system, but most of them offer the following benefits:

  • Reporting and 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. 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.
  • Spam word testing: various words can trigger the spam filters, and if your spam count is too high, there’s a good chance your email will be blocked. Most email newsletter systems will let you know how your newsletter scores, and which words might cause issues. This increases the likelihood of your email being received by the recipient.
  • Templates and formatting: email newsletter systems allow you to set up a template, giving your emails a professional look.
  • Subscriber management: the system gives you a sign-up box you can put on your website so prospects can sign up for your newsletter. Plus your subscriber database is stored with the email newsletter system, so it’s always ready to go. And if a subscriber wants to Unsubscribe, they can easily do so by clicking a link, without you having to do anything at your end.

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 and Mail Chimp. If you do an internet search for “email newsletters” you’ll find many other suppliers too.

The way the prices are structured varies from supplier to supplier, so check them out. Most systems offer you a free trial so you can try it out first. 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.