Sending HTML emails with Simplelists

HTML emails are formatted like a web page and can include colours, graphics, tables and links. Most emails that you receive from a shop/business that you subscribe to are likely to use this kind of email. Plain text emails are more like what you might expect to receive from a friend or in a typical work email. Before sending an HTML email to your list, it is worth considering the pros and cons of HTML and plain text emails.

HTML email

HTML or plain text?

HTML emails are colourful and eye-catching. You can include your company logo and make your email look professional. HTML emails can include images and make it possible to break the email into sections that are easy to read or scan. They can also include social media buttons. HTML emails are more likely to be blocked by some spam blockers, especially if they contain a lot of HTML.

Plain text emails are small and light, which means they use less memory and open more quickly. Plain text messages look less commercial and more similar to personal emails. It has also been found that a plain text email is more likely to be opened and clicked through, which is important if you are sending emails as part of a marketing campaign.

Creating an HTML email

First, you need to create your email as a single web page. There are a few special points to note when creating HTML for email:

  • Use tables to create the layout. Avoid using margins and padding and give the table’s elements fixed widths. This prevents the email looking different in different email clients.
  • All CSS styles should be inline styles. Any CSS in the head or on external style sheets will be ignored.
  • Any images should have an absolute URL – they’ll need to be on the server so they can be sourced.

Once complete, view your web page in a browser. First, check that the page looks perfect. Right click and select all and then copy. Note that you should not copy the HTML code. Copy the content of the web page.

Send the email

Open your email client and compose a new message to your list. Simply paste the email and hit send. Your HTML email will be sent to your whole list. Simple.

You can watch these instructions in a short video here.

Group email made simple – a reminder of our features

Simplelists is designed to be quick, easy and simple to use. It also has a collection of powerful features for users who want more from their email management software. In this short post, we remind our customers of the power of Simplelists and let those who are thinking of joining us know about the range of features available.

Simplelists features

Fast setup

With Simplelists, you can set up your list in just a few minutes. You simply log into your
account and then add people to your list. All you need is their name and email address – you can add people manually or in bulk from a spreadsheet or CSV file. Once a person is added, they will appear as a list member. You can also download your list members’ details to a spreadsheet with a click of a button.

Set restrictions

You have the option to choose who can send messages to your list. For example, you can allow all members to send emails, select members who can send messages, or make sure it is just yourself that can send messages. You can also choose whether replies are sent to the whole list or just to the person who sent the original email. To ensure quality emails are circulated, you can opt to approve and moderate emails before they are sent to the list. The size of emails can also be limited, and attachments can be stripped if required.

Customise your emails

You can let list members’ email addresses be seen, or keep them hidden from other members. Other features include: the ability to add a personalised footer; send your emails in HTML rather than plain text; and personalise your emails by automatically adding details such as the recipient’s name in the email. Once sent, you can archive your emails and access them from a custom website at any time. If you have a busy list, daily digest summaries are a useful feature – instead of receiving emails when they are posted, members receive one email every 24 hours.

Customise subscriptions and integrate with websites

You can choose whether new members can join your list when they wish, or whether this requires approval. Similarly, you can set unsubscribe options, allowing members to leave your list when they choose. To allow members to join your list easily, you can add a subscribe form to your website (this form is fully customisable so you can match it perfectly to the design of your website) and you can easily replace the Simplelists branding with your own logo or branding on all landing pages (where members go when clicking on email/form links). An API is available to enable you to synchronise your Simplelists account with other websites and a multiple list account can be integrated with your domain so that users receive emails from your domain rather than Simplelists.

Automated list management

When an email to one of your list members bounces, you will receive a message to let you know. To save you time, list members with email addresses that bounce messages repeatedly can be removed automatically from your list. If a list member marks your email as spam, they will automatically be removed from the list. This ensures that emails are not repeatedly marked as spam, keeping delivery rates high.

Once your list is set up, you can email everyone on your list from your normal email address. Just send them message to [yourlist]@simplelists.com. It really is that simple. If you would like to try out Simplelists, you can sign up for a free single list account today.

New Feature – Take a Break

Some of our customers have requested a feature where members can take a break from receiving list emails rather than completely unsubscribe. We could see that this feature would be useful in a lot of situations…

For example, it’s fairly common for clubs or societies have an email list for their members – but membership of clubs and societies is rarely static – members come and go it’s not uncommon for some members sometimes leave a club and then rejoin at a later date. Rather than unsubscribe the member completely – it is possible to pause the delivery of their emails. If they rejoin at a later date you can resume the delivery of their emails in one click, rather than going through the subscription process again.

Human relationship with  computer communication timeout conceptWith this in mind we’ve listened to our customers and implemented a ‘take a break’ feature for list members. We’ve made it very easy to activate for both list managers and list members…

List Managers

Login to your Simplelists account, navigate to ‘list members’, select a member from the address book and tick the ‘pause delivery’ check-box. To restart delivery simply uncheck the box.

pause_deleivery1List Members

Visit http://archives.simplelists.com/ and if you aren’t logged in already enter your email address and you’ll be sent a confirmation email to your email address. Click on the link in the email which will take you to archives of your email lists. Simply select ‘pause delivery’ for the list that you want to take a break from. When you want to receive emails again you just click ‘resume delivery’ – simple!

pause_delivery2

Subscribe Forms – Everything You Need To Know

We’ve just completed a series of short videos on subscribe forms. These videos take you through everything that you need to know to place a subscribe or unsubscribe form on your website: adding a the form to your site, customising the form to suit your needs and styling the form to match your website perfectly…

Adding A Form To Your Website

This is very simple – just login to your simplelists account, navigate to ‘general settings’, select ‘subscriptions’ and you’ll see the code which you can copy and paste to your website.

The first short video takes you through this process step by step:

If you have a multiple list account you have a choice of different forms to use – the next video takes you through the options so that you can choose the most appropriate form for your specific needs:

Customising A Web Form

The simplelists web forms are written completely in standard HTML. This means that they are totally flexible and gives you the ability to customise the forms to suit your needs exactly. You can delete fields that aren’t needed, add new inputs and change the form from subscribe to unsubscribe – you can even write your own form entirely from scratch!

The third video shows you how to customise your form by editing the form itself:

Styling Your Form

Having a form that matches your website’s design is important when creating the image that you want. Because simplelists forms are standard HTML they can be styled using CSS which means that you have the ability to style your form any way you want. You have complete freedom to create beautiful as well as useful web forms. The final video of the series shows you how:

Which Account is Best For You?

You have a range of choices when deciding which account to use to manage your group email. In this post we’ll take you through your options but… before we start it’s worth noting that we offer free trials for both single and multiple list accounts so if you have a one-off email campaign or short-term project that requires group email management then why not use the free trial – it won’t cost you a thing!

Price and Value word made by letter pieces

‘Single List’ verses ‘Multiple List’ accounts

This choice will usually be dictated by the number of lists that you want to manage – if you manage several different email lists then you’ll need a multiple list account but if you manage one email list then a single list account is usually best. Simple stuff!

However, it’s worth noting that there are some extra features that are only available to multiple list accounts that could mean that you want to choose a multiple list account even if you only manage a single email list. One such feature is the ability to use your own domain to replace simplelists.com in your emails and for your landing pages – this enables you to brand the entire system as your own.

‘Pay As You Go’ verses ‘Unlimited Subscription’

If you are planning a one-off mailshot or have a short-term project that needs group email management then a Pay As You Go account is normally the best option.The exception is when you expect to send a huge amount of data through your account (for example, if your emails will contain large attachments). Under these circumstances, subscribing to an unlimited account for the duration of your project would be the most cost effective option.

If your email management needs are long-term or ongoing then an unlimited subscription is normally best. This is hassle free and enables you to send as much data as you want. However, if you use a small amount of data then a 10GB Pay As You Go data bundle should be more cost effective.

Pay As You Go Price Plans

All Pay As You Go price plans allow up to 20,000 list members – enough even for the biggest lists! You choose a plan based on the amount of data that you wish to send.

For short term projects or email campaigns of less than a month the 1GB and 3GB bundles are a good option – you can send approximately 48,000 plain text emails with a 1GB bundle and 144,000 with a 3GB bundle!

For long-term projects or email campaigns that last up to a year the 10GB bundle offers great value – at only $64 (£40 or €52) for the bundle that lasts an entire year this works out at just $5.33 (£3.33 or €4.33) for each month. This bundle enables you to send approximately 40,000 plain text emails per month, every month for a year!

For very large projects and campaigns the 30GB bundles offer enough data for some serious emailing with large lists.

To make things really simple we have a PAYG yearly data calculator which enables you to estimate the data required for your list – you can see it on our products page.

Unlimited Price Plans

Unlimited price plans are ongoing – you pay a monthly or yearly subscription and receive an unlimited data allowance. The subscription fee depends on the number of list members that you have – there are options for 1000, 5000, 10000 and 20000 members. The yearly subscriptions offer the best value and start at as little as $10 (£6 or €8) per month.

Why Simplelists Is Better Than Facebook for Private Groups

If you’re setting up a discussion group these days you have a lot of options to choose from. You could use a social media platform, such as a Facebook ‘closed’ group, to host your discussion or you could choose to use a group email service like Simplelists.

If your organisation or business values the privacy of your group discussions we believe that group email is the preferable option. In fact, it doesn’t just come down to privacy – the actual ownership of your content is at stake…

Private or Public Concept

We looked into privacy and content ownership on Facebook and Google+. We considered including Twitter too but decided against it because it doesn’t really provide the equivalent of ‘closed groups’ or ‘circles’, instead being an unashamedly public platform. We have to admit to being slightly shocked by what we found.

From Facebook’s terms:

For content that is covered by intellectual property rights… you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide licence to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP Licence).

It was noted that we couldn’t find exceptions to these terms for ‘closed’ or ‘secret’ groups – it seems that this applies to these groups too.

We did come across the following terms specifically related to privacy options:

Although we allow you to set privacy options that limit access to your information… We cannot guarantee that only authorized persons will view your information. We cannot ensure that information you share on Facebook will not become publicly available.

Google’s terms of service were much the same:

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works… communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

So basically it seems that any content that is put on Facebook or Google+ can be used by Facebook or Google as they wish.

Now compare these to the relevant part of the Simplelists privacy policy:

All data, including emails, list content, subscriber lists and any list information, is the express property of the account owner and/or the author of a particular message.

At Simplelists we love social media – it’s a great place to connect with people and share things that you want everyone to see. This blog post will be shared on Facebook and Google+ shortly after it is published.

However, we believe that there is a time and a place for private discussion, where the author maintains full ownership rights to the content that they produce. You can sign up for a free trial with Simplelists here.