In this article, Part 1, we will look at the most basic functionality – that of managing email subscribers. In part 2, we will take a closer look at the “classic” autoresponder functionality.
Why Can’t I Just Use Contact Groups?
That’s a fair question. Most email programs, including Gmail and Outlook allow you to create groups of contacts and to then simply send emails to the group as whole. In fact, that is how I managed the email list for my company and for a User Group that I ran – until the Anti-SPAM rules became law.
Today, any email marketing, at least in North America, Europe, and many other countries must be CAN-SPAM (or something similar) compliant. CAN-SPAM is an acronym for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003. It also cleverly includes “spam” – the common term for unsolicited email. It provides guidelines, and legal penalties, regarding commercial messages sent by businesses.
- No deceptive subject lines
- No misleading header information (e.g. “From”, “Reply-to”, etc.)
- Your message must include your valid physical postal address
- Your message must include a clear explanation of how to opt out of future emails
- You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days
If you said that you could handle these requirements yourself with your email program, you’d actually be correct. It would be painfully time consuming, but you could do it. However, there is another important feature that, although not technically required by CAN-SPAM, is really a best practice – Confirmed Opt-in (often mistakenly referred to as “double opt-in”).
You are probably familiar with this from any time you signed up for a newsletter or free gift on a web site. After submitting your email address, you then receive an email from the web site asking you to click on a link to confirm your subscription. Only then are you added to their email list.
Do You Really Want to Receive Our Emails?
Why force the user to go through this extra step? Don’t you risk losing potential subscribers?
Here is a list of some of the reasons of why you really do want to enforce Confirmed Opt-in for your email subscriber lists:
- It eliminates malicious and incorrect addresses from your subscriber list.
- It provides proof that all subscribers did request your information and that you are not a spammer.
- It increases your email deliverability. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and email filtering programs are far more trusting of senders whose lists have been confirmed.
- It provides greater user responsiveness – more opens and clicks, fewer complaints and unsubscribes.
This covers the basic functionality of most autoresponder programs and services and hopefully provides you with some reasons why you would want to use them. But these are the “boring” reasons – in Part 2 we’ll start looking at the really powerful and exciting features and benefits these programs provide.