Elbel Consulting Services, LLC
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ECS Email campaign management

Sending out your own email "blasts" to hundreds or thousands of recipients can be very costly, when you consider the value of your own time, email management overhead, and the technical problems that you may incur. A better solution is an email campaign management system that sends out attractive and "branded" email blasts, while handling all of the technical issues. ECS manages email campaigns as well as contact and client databases.

Email campaign management

While sending out dozens or hundreds of emails to customers, constituents and supporters from your own PC can be done, it is often time-consuming and fraught with problems. Here are some of the common problems encountered when sending email to your own email lists:

  • You have to manually add recipients to your email list.
  • You have to manually process email bounces and track "soft bounces" (where someone's mail box is bull) and delete "hard bounces" (where the recipient email address does not exist).
  • You have to manually process unsubscribe and requests for list removal.
  • Your email typically will be relatively plain-looking, with no special formatting, logo and "branding".
  • Many email service providers (including Yahoo, Google, Comcast) will limit the number of recipients you can send to in an email.
  • Many internet service providers (including Comcast) will block you as a spammer if you send out large numbers of identical emails.

What about spam?

We don't recommend sending unsolicited bulk email - commonly referred to as spam - for a number of reasons:

  • You will alienate recipients and drive away customers and supporters.
  • Recipients will add your email address to their spam filters and you will never get through to them.
  • Recipients can complain to your ISP who then may terminate your account.
  • It is simply bad form.

However, we do recommend building an opt-in email list of customers and supporters and sending them periodic updates. This is an excellent way of keeping your customer and supporter base informed and interested.

What about sending your own bulk email?

The ongoing escalation between spammers and ISPs (Internet Service Providers) means that rules keep changing and therefore it takes a huge amount of effort to ensure a reliable level of email deliveries. A low level of deliverability reliability is unacceptable, yet without a client base of thousands, the time required to guarantee a high level of reliability is prohibitively high.

Ten years ago it was quite easy to set up a mailing list with MajorDomo public domain software, and send out alerts to thousands on a daily basis. Better commercial mailing software came along and offered much greater control and feature sets, such as drip campaigns, client statistics, automatic hard and soft bounce handling, etc. Using such a package made a lot of sense at the time.

Things have changed. How bad is the spam problem today? The short answer is: astronomical. The Radicati Group in August 2008 estimated the number of emails sent per day to be around 210 billion. That's more than 2 million emails sent every second. About 70% of them are thought to be spam and viruses. Genuine emails are sent by around 1.3 billion email users.

"Spam wars" are escalating. The volume of spam is increasing, but because of tighter anti-spam measures, the actual amount of spam that gets through is relatively constant. Who pays for spam? We all do, through higher ISP fees and more email delivery problems - a classic Tragedy of the Commons situation.

At a recent Rocky Mountain Internet Users Group presentation, expert Anne P. Mitchell observed that in order to ensure bulk email delivery, it is practically a requirement to use a third-party provider. She noted that the large providers have staff whose full-time job is to interface with major ISPs (like Comcast, Google, Yahoo and others) and to make whitelist arrangements so that their email will not be blocked.

A technical person at a large email house recently noted, "Yahoo has become uber aggressive in their email blocking. if you are not on their whitelist you pretty much don't get in. They are also going to implement return path filtering as of January, 2009 and that is going to be bad for everyone. Very soon there are going to be fewer and fewer people who can actually get mail into inboxes."

A tech at a top-tier hosting company recently responded to the question as to how many clients offer their own mailing list services to customers to send out bulk email. He said "Oh, quite a few... at least they think they do." Which pretty much sums it up. Sending your own bulk email - and getting it delivered - is becoming a thing of the past.

Third-party email campaign management

There exist many third-party email campaign management services who offer to send your emails to your subscriber lists for a fee. Some have high delivery rates, are easy to use, and offer good customer support. There are also many smaller and less-reliable bulk emailers. When selecting an email campaign management service, it is important to choose a service who can provide consistent results and high delivery rates.

Fortunately, some organizations provide information on email campaign management services. For example, ReturnPath rates email mailing services and SenderScore allows you to search Return Path's comprehensive database of email sender reputation.

ECS has experience with quite a few email campaign management services and in fact, ECS has in the past offered our own in-house campaign management services. This makes ECS well-informed and well-positioned to guide you to a solution that will get your email reliably delivered to your subscriber list.

Contact ECS to find out more about email campaign management services and providers.

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