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How Do I Manage A Mailing List?

Aug 17, 2007
"The money is in the list"! How many times have you heard this refrain?

It sounds very mercenary, doesn't it? Get a load of people to sign up as a subscriber to your list and then send them endless emails trying to `flog' them a load of products... Sadly, this is what many perceive as the end product of `building a list' and it really makes me mad!

In reality, having your own mailing list is a huge responsibility and the way that you manage your list can make or break you. So, how do you manage your mailing list without getting into trouble?

The majority of internet users go to great lengths to protect their email accounts from spam. Most free-mail internet providers and internet service providers offer spam protection while there are also some internet based companies that screen your mails for you. Despite this, though there is a huge body of people that choose to subscribe to `lists' because they want to know more about what various sites are offering and what can be beneficial to them in that particular subject. They chose and expect to get be kept posted on what they are interested in and what is new in their chosen market or field.

Most businesses would give their right arm to have these kinds of customers and, obviously, th basic element needed to get these types of people is trust. When your customers trust you they will reward you with their loyalty.

All those considering having their own mailing list should almost certainly chose an opt-in mailing list. With an opt-in mailingl list, the mails you send containing your promotional materials such as newsletters, catalogs and marketing media will reach their destination. Your intended recipient will be able to read and view what you have sent making it a successful transfer of information. To be allowed to do so, however, it is vital that you obtain permission from your recipient.

In any discussion of `building a list' you will often hear the terms opt-in and opt-out. These two terms refer to two different approaches to managing email lists (and they apply to mailing lists of all kinds, including those related to hobbies and interests, as well as to spammers' lists).

To build a good opt-in list you need people to trust you. And, of course, the bigger the scope of your opt-in list the more traffic you get, leading to greater profits. However, getting the numbers is not that simple, or is it?

Again, gaining the trust of your clientele is vital and this can only be done if you do indeed have a legitimate business. People rely on other people who know what they are talking about - and obtaining your customer's trust should be based upon your expertise. You need to gather all the knowledge and information about your busines that you possibly can and a good place to start is with something that excites you and that you have a passion or great interest in yourself.

An important tip in getting a customer to trust you is to provide them with an escape hatch. Your customers need to know that they are not trapped! They need to know that they can unsubscribe from your list at any time they wish. Always state clearly on your sign-up form that they can do this and provide information in each mailing to them how they can unsubscribe from the list. Provide a guarantee that they can let go of the service whenever they wish. Understandably, many people are wary that they may be stuck for ever and will have to take the drastic action of abandoning their email accounts when they get pestered with spam.

* Opt-out Mailing Lists - Not a good idea!

Many run the type of mailing list whereby they `get hold' of peoples' email address and start sending out emails. These people are generous, though (!) and include instructions for you to `get off the list' - thus, you must opt-out to stop getting the emails.

Opt-out is a sneaky, presumptive and rude tactic, typical of spammers, as it requires the recipient to take positive action to stop receiving the emails that they didn't request in the first place. In my opinion, an opt-out list is little short of extortion, as the unwilling recipient is asked to give up something of value (the info that their email address is active) in order to stop being harrassed by spam and nine times out of ten, you they continue to be harrassed anyway!

* The Opt-in List - a good strategy

An opt-in list is not built on sending out unsolicited emails but by, for example, advertising on your website, or other means and providing customers with full instructions on how to join the list if they wish. This can take the form of a webpage form to fill in or an automated email link. Opt-in is much, much better than opt-out, because, in theory, you are not sending mail to people who don't want it. However, this method is still not optimal.

* The Confirmed Opt-in List - the best strategy

Unfortunately, simple opt-in is insufficient to prevent even a well-intentioned mailing list owner from sending things to people who don't want them. e.g. what's to stop a crazy friend (or enemy) from filling out one of these on-line forms and adding your email addy? In this scenario, the owner of the email address starts getting hoards of emails and the poor list owner starts getting reported for sending out spam!

Confirmed Opt-in lists are designed so that people who sign up have to confirm that they signed up. On sign up an email is sent to the email address and the recipient has to click on a link to confirm their subscription. If you want to join the list, you click on the link to confirm, if you don't, you just delete the email and do nothing and you will not be added to the list or bothered again

Confirmed Opt-in lists give you the greatest protection against your ISP (internet service provider) taking your account away for spam.

So if you are considering starting your own mailing list, or indeed already have one, make sure you protect yourself and your subscribers.
About the Author
Paula Brett is an internet marketer and eBook author. You can sign up to her free monthly newsletter of I.M tips at http://www.ebooksexpo.com. You can also check out her other articles at www.article-exposure.com
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