Newsletter Campaigns

Hi, i am in the process of setting up my first Newsletter Campaign.

I have looked into mailchimp and it seems an excellent system.

I have two questions in relation to customers signing up to newsletters:

When a customer enters their email address into the form (mailchimp) on my site, they receive a thank you message and email asking them to confirm their signup. I don't like the fact that my customers have to click / accept a link in an email to actually finalise / validate the signup as i am sure a lot of them will think that the email is just a confirmation that they are signed up and then ignore any action in the email.

I noticed that you can also manually add email addresses to your campaign lists, so i was thinking it might be a better idea to just build a simple contact form to replace the mailchimp form, where the contact form simply emails me the customer's email address and then i can manually add it to the campaign list... as i said above this is my first time setting one of these up so correct me if i am wrong.

It there any 'must do' or advice that you could advise a newbie to email marketing?

Thanks in advance for your help.
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John EastonDirectorCommented:
In regards to your first point, the e-mail confirmation is (in my opinion) very important for two reasons:

1. It confirms the e-mail address was correctly entered
2. It confirms the e-mail address was entered by the account holder and not by a random spam bot somewhere.

The second point could result in you signing up lots of users who do not want to be on your list and they in turn could report you as a spammer which ultimately ends up with your e-mail being stopped by anti-spam software - even for customers who did sign up.

In general terms I would also say frequency of e-mail is important.  Unless customers are signing up to a 'daily alert' most people do not want to be swamped by your e-mails.  I would suggest no more than one per week.

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oo7mlAuthor Commented:
Great, thanks for your help.

I don't think a lot of users expect to receive a confirmation email that also requires them to activate a link... what do you think?

I'll only be emailing them once a month.
John EastonDirectorCommented:
I guess it depends on who your users are.  It does appear to be more common to recieve confirmation e-mails, in particular if you are joining forums etc.

The other option (if available) is to send a confirmation e-mail with an opt-out link.  I.e. users would do nothing if they are happy to be signed up, but could easily opt-out if they wanted to.

I should note however, we do not currently run any mailing lists, and much of my experiance is from the user perspective.
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Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
Most people are used to double opt in as it is required per your terms of service.  If you simply enter in email addresses manually without confirmation and they flag it as spam (and they will) you could loose your mailing privileges.   However, if you allow the double opt in  and somebody flags it as spam but you have done all the right things you should be good as long as everybody is not flagging what you send as spam.

Your thoughts are very common, but it is what you need to do to maintain he integrity of your list.
oo7mlAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys, I completely agree with validating your sign up for membership sites etc BUT for a newsletter signup it seems overkill and a big barrier.

The opt out email is a much better idea as it informs the user and gives them the option to action am opt out.

I have built over 200 websites and would consider myself to have considerable knowledge in the web world and I added my email through my site several times as a test as I could not manage to get my email to show in my mailchimp list... it was only an hour later that I realised that I had to click a link in the emails that I was receiving... should have left this to the marketing guys, but happy that I jumped in to see how it all works.

Does anyone know if it's possible to set MC up as an opt out email instead of an opt in?

Thanks again for your help
John EastonDirectorCommented:
Looking through the mail chimp blog it appears they only offer the "double opt-in" method.  They also have a guide on what you can use and what you can't.  In summary a purchased list or anything else where users didn't expressly want to join the mailing list is a big no-no.
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
When you use their forms you can only turn off the welcome letter which would be the email after they double opt in.

When you use MailChimp's signup forms, we require the double opt-in process. There's not a way to turn off or otherwise disable the email that asks folks to confirm their subscription to your list, but the Final "welcome" email which is sent after opt-in has been confirmed can be disabled.

While it's possible to manage your own signup process using the single opt-in method, we strongly recommend using the double opt-in method instead. Here's a great example of why we recommend using double opt-in over single opt-in. We've also seen that double opted-in lists have much higher engagement levels over time. This means more opens and clicks and fewer bounces and unsubscribes. Check out this blog post for even more info.

You will need to use the api to do what you want.  This means your own form and adding the email to the list via the api and turning off double_optin  

lists/subscribe (string apikey, string id, struct email, struct merge_vars, string email_type, bool double_optin, bool update_existing, bool replace_interests, bool send_welcome)

Subscribe the provided email to a list. By default this sends a confirmation email - you will not see new members until the link contained in it is clicked!
oo7mlAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys, i might look at alternatives to Mail Chimp as i really do believe you will lose a lot of customers who actually do and think that they have signed up but have ignored the action in the opt in email.
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
You can do what you asked in MailChimp, you just have to do some programming.

No matter what mail vendor you use, it will be the same thing for the very reason we have all said you I think you already understand.  If MailChimp or ConstantContact or any of the others made it easy not to use double opt in, they will have their own deliverability problems. This is the main reason you are using a 3rd party mailer.    

Let's say comcast customers started marketing your email as unwanted.  And there are plenty of people that will no matter how much we think they are dying to get our mail. It only takes a small percentage for the red flags to wave.  If you can show you did the double opt in thing, and  your vendor can show that was enforced, you will be in a better place as will the vendor.  If the vendor did not enforce this stuff, the likes of comcast (one of the hardest to get past) and others would not allow mail through. They work pretty hard to keep white listed.  

You could send the mail from your ISP and ignore their TOS because there is nothing stopping you from sending mail out that way.  Once a few people complain electronically, your web and mail service could be shut off without notice.

We are in an age where people will appreciate that more.  There are a number of reasons they may not double opt in that have nothing to do with you including they have 2 anti spam software titles fighting with each other as well as outlook/macmail auto sending mail to junk.  The mail server could have marked your mail as junk.  Those people are not going to get your mail anyway.  

If you follow the dots with the API, you can get what you are asking.  You will run a higher chance of your service being canceled as it will probably take a smaller percentage of bounces and blocks to get the service shut off.
oo7mlAuthor Commented:
Ok cool, thanks for going into detail Scott, much appreciated.
oo7mlAuthor Commented:
I just noticed you can turn the double opt in off :-)
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
Yes, you can turn double opt in off.  However, you will have a higher risk of people marketing your mail as spam and the threshold to have your account closed down is low.  I have had clients do the very same thing only to have their account closed.

If you make it through the first one or two newsletters though... you should be safe from there as they have an opportunity to opt out.  

This is one of those things as you read up on this practice is not suggested but people do it. Just know there is risk.
oo7mlAuthor Commented:
Ok, thanks Scott.
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