As a publisher of an ezine for the last three years, I have continually tried to improve its content, format and delivery. As most online publishers know from experience, it is an uphill battle to maintain an up-to-date list.
Email addresses are continually changing. Subscribers sign up with one address today and a month from now the address may be no good so you will get back a “user unknown”, “account inactive or disabled”, or maybe come back “host unknown”. Some subscribers may sign up using one of the free email service addresses. Many of them will come back “over quota” since the owner has not cleaned out their inbox or they are using it to post to free for all link sites and they are getting thousands of automated responses. And there are those that intentionally sign up using an auto responder address.
While keeping the list up-to-date is something that goes with the territory, you also have to insure that every time you send something out, it is actually being delivered as expected.
Delivery of your ezine can also have its headaches as I have found out in my short three years of online publishing. There are a number of ways you can deliver your ezine:
– You can do it yourself using your own email program. Many new ezines start out this way when the list is small. But as it grows into the 1000’s, you will be looking for a more efficient way.
– You can use free services which will manage, house and mail to your list for you. These can work fine although you will have a company advertisement going out with each mailing to your subscribers. Some of these free services also have a very complex sign up process that can be a disadvantage.
– You can use one of the free or purchased cgi mailing scripts that are available. The scripts themselves work pretty good, but you will need to set it up on your server and have the storage capability on the server for the list itself. You will also have to insure that you test it fully to make sure it works properly (see below).
– You can use a listserver which gives you a pretty good system to manage and deliver your list. The prices for this type service range all over the board based on the size of your list and the number of messages you send. But like the cgi script it can have its problems.
So, why did I title this article like I did? Over the past year I have tested a number of ways to send a list out, tested whether the entire list was going out, how long it was actually taking and whether it was being “cleaned” automatically as advertised.
For several years I used a listserver from the same company. I never had a problem with the list actually going out since I had seeded a number of email addresses in it and could tell from the placement of those when the list was completed.
However there was another problem that I identified that can impact on the quality of your list. For details read: “Your Listserver – Are Your List Numbers Correct?” available at http://www.homebizlink.com/listserv.htm You may think that your list is going out to 2500 for example, but it may be going out to less and less over time!
The cgi mailing list scripts offer another problem. It is probably not the script itself but the server you install it on. For details on our test take a look at: “CGI Mailing List Scripts – Is All Of Your List Going Out?” available at: http://www.homebizlink.com/cgiscpt.htm
Whatever you are using or considering to use to mail your list, make sure it is working effectively. There are simple ways to test it to insure that the list is actually going out and whether the quality of the list is actually what you think it is. Your inhouse list of subscribers, customers or members is worth its weight in gold to your business. Take a minute and review the results and comments from our tests at the links above.
Article by Joe Reinbold, Publisher of Home Income Quarterly
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