How to run a legitimate mass mailing list (distribution list)

vitaly's picture
Print this pagePrint this pageWhen running your own legitimate list, you should take every precaution and go above and beyond in making it known and convenient for people to get on the list and get off the list you are using to send email. Here are just a few of the suggestions if you are just starting out in this area:
  1. This is very important: You must always have a clear way to subscribe and unsubscribe to your mailing list. People must have the confidence that they can stop and resume messages from you at any moment. I would even recommend on writing a short sentence in the beginning of each message to indicate to the recipient, that he has elected to receive your communication, but if he/she wants to come off the list, it is very easy by following simple instructions. This generates more trust in you and allows users to painlessly change their subscription at any time.
  2. Always use the same From: address and Return Address: in the message header. A lot of people will instantly recognize it is from you by looking at the From: header and some will even add you to their contact list. If you change that, some percentage of people might not receive your message because it will be blocked or users will accidentally delete it.
  3. Always use your true name or corporate identity. Never forge any headers or pretend the message originates from someone else. This may seem obvious, but some people may accidentally send a message from their home for example and the From: address will be different. You might have deliverability issues after that, since a lot of systems might block this communication automatically.
  4. Use a meaningful subject, related to the message itself. Do not try to write a catchy subject that is completely not related to the rest of the message.
  5. Write informative messages with content that would be really appreciated by your target audience. Unless your messages are status messages to your consumers like monthly invoices or status of a hardware that notifies a lot of people of any hardware issue within it, then it is wise to think and switch places with your message recipient. Think, why would you read this particular message. Does it appeal to you personally?
  6. Do not be very detailed and in depth. Not a lot of people have the time to read large, complex and involving articles. However important you might think the subject is, nobody will read your message if it's just too long. Make it short and to the point. This is especially good if you are running periodic subscription list. Transfer all of your "extra" verbage to the next issue. Separate it into two messages or make one short point in the email and refer to the rest as an optional link to your web site, where people can get more details
  7. If at all possible, try to use plain text messages. HTML and Rich content messages tend to be filtered out by spam filters much more often than the regular text messages. If your content does not absolutely require it, do not use HTML messages. You may choose to provide a link to a fully formatted article with images, video and other rich content on your web site, but the message itself looks great as a plain text. Not to mention that it is much easier to read.
  8. If you have to use HTML, use least possible amounts and try to avoid things like Javascript and Flash. I understand, that jumping, singing, zooming and swishing menus and boxes look cool, but your content will most probably be denied by the filters in this case and your swishy boxes will be seen by about 5% of your target audience only.

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