You've made the decision to start sending email newsletters to your loyal fans and people interested in reading your books. You know what you want to say and you've begun collecting email addresses, all that's left to work out is what's the best way to send them an email newsletter.
The best way for you to send your email is going to depend on the results you're after and the technology you've got available.
A review of the four most popular ways to send email revealed the following Pro's and Con's of each way -
The most straightforward way to send your newsletter is to send it as an email or as a document attached to your email from your own personal email account – this could be via a free email account with someone like hotmail or gmail or through your own ISP (Internet Service Provider) such as AOL or when you have your own registered domain name in your email address.
Advantages of DIY Email
- The biggest advantage of DIY is that if you've already got an email address and mail servers set up, using them to send newsletters and marketing leverages what you already have so there's no additional financial cost.
- Chances are that you’re very familiar with your email software set-up, so it’s quick and easy for you to create and send email newsletters with what you have.
- You also remain firmly in control over what gets sent out and when. You can send out an email message anytime something comes to mind, no matter what time of day.
Disadvantages of DIY Email
- The downside of DIY is that to keep yourself off SPAM registers you can only send small numbers of email at a time. You may not be aware that your ISP is limiting the number of email messages that they are allowing to be released for a particular duration (for example 20 emails every 2 hours). So whilst it looks to you that you’ve sent a whole lot of emails off, they may actually be sitting with your ISP for a number of days depending on how many you have sent and their rules for email distribution.
- If you get too many people who receive your emails that mark you as a SPAM sender, then this email address will be blacklisted, meaning that all email being sent by you from this email address no matter who you send it to could be stopped from being delivered.
- You can't hide email addresses using the BCC trick if you want it to achieve a high level of deliverability.
- On top of that there's a lot of work involved in managing the subscribe and unsubscribe requests. Anti-Spam laws are now incredibly strict and if you are sending email messages of a commercial nature in volume, such as a newsletter, then you absolutely must provide a way for the people that you email to unsubscribe in every newsletter you send out.
- Plus there's no way to confirm if everyone's received your message. Email software makes it possible for people receiving your emails to simply ignore your request for a confirmation when they open and read your message.
Social Media Groups
People with Yahoo accounts or social media accounts such as Facebook and LinkedIn can use Groups to send newsletters for free.
Not only is it free to send your newsletters, it's also free to set-up the account.
Advantages of Social Media Groups
- The great things about Groups is that you can access your account from any computer anywhere in the world. So if you travel or are on the go a lot, this saves having to set up secure networks and remote access to get to your email account.
- Another advantage of using Groups is that subscribing and unsubscribing is handled by the social media account system so there's no work for you to do here either.
- Plus you can embed images into your email messages rather than sending them as attachments. All the recipient has to do is ‘switch images on’ in their email software and they see all the images, instead of having to save the images to their computer and then open them with image viewing software.
Disadvantages of Social Media Groups
- On the less positive side, emails being sent from social networking websites, such as Facebook or Yahoo Groups are being singled out and blocked by some large ISPs, so delivery isn't as reliable as other approaches.
- If you choose to use Yahoo or social media Groups you need to be aware that your subscribers must have an account with this same website for them to receive and be able to read your messages. This can be extremely frustrating for some of your fans if they simply don’t want to join yet another social networking website.
- The social networking website owns your Group. Most social networks don’t allow you to even see the email addresses of your group members, so unless you continue using their account, you lose your entire list of fans should you decide to use a different approach for sending email newsletters in the future.
Email Service Providers
To help people send email marketing free from the usual ISP restrictions, hundreds of websites have set themselves up as Email Services Providers (ESPs). These websites provide you with the ability to send huge numbers of emails all at the same time (without being labeled as a SPAMMER) by making sure that you are sending email newsletters in a way that makes you legally accountable for the message.
That may sound frightening, but in reality all it means is that when you set up your account with them -
- they confirm you have a real email address where you can be contacted;
- that your real email address is used as the reply email address for every message you send out via your account with them;
- in every message you send out, your address and contact details are displayed at the bottom of the email; and
- that the format your email newsletter is sent in doesn't allow viruses, worms or other hacker nastiness to be distributed.
Advantages of Email Service Providers
- Just like with social networking groups, ESPs are in ‘The Cloud’… you set up an account through their website and then you can access it from any computer, smartphone or tablet (iPad) anywhere in the world.
- There's no risk to any of your own computers or ISP account such as blacklisting or hacker attacks to get to your email list because everything is managed and protected by the ESP. Most ESPs have relationships with ISPs to guarantee delivery of your messages, they also have around the clock security staff making sure their computers are secured and hackers haven't gotten into accounts.
- The majority of ESPs provide libraries of help you send professional looking email newsletters; providing pretty templates to make your messages look good and tools to help you work out if ISPs would classify your email newsletter as SPAM before you even send it out.
- ESP accounts also have reporting so you can check the success of your newsletter after you've sent it.
- One of the greatest benefits of an ESP account is that you can create a subscription form to put in your website that automatically manages subscribe and unsubscribe requests.
Disadvantages of Email Service Providers
- One of the problems with ESPs is that there are so many out there it's difficult to know which one to use; and each one offers slightly different features and ways of asking you to pay for their service.
- The other problem is that even though ESPs try to make their websites easy to use, there is still a pretty steep technical learning curve with most. We are talking about it taking several days of watching tutorial videos and reading through FAQs and support documents while you get the account set up and then more time learning how to actually create the email newsletters and send them out.
All-inclusive Email Marketing
To overcome the technical difficulties of using an ESP there is a new breed of email service providers who not only handle the technical side but will also write your newsletters and help you segment and get more information out of your email marketing.
Advantages of All-inclusive Email Marketing
- It gets done for you on autopilot. You don’t ever need to worry about forgetting to send out your newsletter on time (every single week, fortnight or month), because it’s someone else’s problem to worry about.
- Your time isn’t being taken up or wasted with learning and using yet another software application or thing to do for promoting yourself or your books.
- These people are experienced in creating and sending newsletters so it gets done to the highest professional standard – looking great, passing SPAM filters, getting high open rates, keeping up with the latest techniques required for email deliverability and managing your email list.
- You get the benefits of sending out email newsletters without having to use your computer, your ISP, an ESP or any technology at all.
Disadvantages of All-inclusive Email Marketing
- Depending on how worthwhile you think sending an email newsletter is for your fans and engaging people with your brand, price may be a sticking point.
Some Advice on Sending Email Newsletters
20% of a customer list/database becomes useless within 12 months.
This means that if you're not paying attention to keeping your list of email addresses fresh and regularly sending email communication you'll lose all of them within 5 years.
So regardless of which approach you choose…
The Number #1 Best Way to Distribute Your Email Newsletters is to… Start!