Why use an email discussion list?

Using Simplelists – a group email manager – means you can send emails to a group of people via one email address. This is a great way to have private discussions via email in a way that ensures list members’ preferences are adhered to (e.g. how frequently they receive messages). Lots of businesses and organisations find that sharing information in this way can foster community in the workplace. This short post explains in some more detail how the service works and what benefits it offers.

Why use an email discussion list

How does it work?

First, members need to subscribe to the discussion list. They can do this on a website (see an earlier post on how to add a subscribe form to your website) or via email. It is then possible for any member to post to the whole list by emailing a particular, automated email address.

You can set permissions so that only certain members can post, or enable an approval process so that each post needs to be moderated by an administrator before going out to the whole list (read more here about how to set permissions). Normally, you would have one or more ‘list managers’ who take charge of the list and tend to have a good level of knowledge about what the discussion is all about.

Making things personal

It is possible for list members to personalise how they interact with the list. For example, they might have an email format preference (HTML or plain text), or they might want to stipulate how often they receive emails from the list. There is also the option to receive a digest summary of the latest posts, instead of receiving them individually as and when they are posted.

You can also customise the email itself, perhaps including a company logo or a directing email recipients to a bespoke landing page within your website.

Getting through

Today, most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have limits on the number of email addresses that you can send an email to. If you exceed the number, the email will not be delivered to the recipient. If recipients report your emails as spam, this can also affect whether or not the message gets through.

Within Simplelists, you can manage your spam reporting settings to make sure your emails get through.

Other benefits

A lot of people still prefer receiving an email personalised to their needs rather than visiting a website to search for information. Over half of all internet users subscribe to at least one email list. For those with slow internet connections or who work offline at intervals, being able to download, read and reply to emails rather than interact in real time can be a real bonus.

 

Daily digest summary emails

A daily digest summary is an email containing a compilation of new emails sent by members of a list. This can be a handy function to avoid clogging up members’ inboxes, reducing the number of emails they have to scan each day. To receive an email digest, members will need to opt to receive it. In this short post, we explain how to set up daily digest summaries with Simplelists.

Daily digest summary email

Pros and cons of email digests

Daily digest summaries can be useful for busy lists. Instead of receiving emails when they are posted, Simplelists list members can receive one email every 24 hours. This prevents members becoming inundated with emails when discussions are active and allows them to pick and choose which email discussions are more important for them to read, at a time that suits them.

It can sometimes be tricky to ensure optimum formatting of digest emails, when the original emails are pulled automatically into the digest. The digest needs to be appealing to read and easy to navigate. It can also be a challenge to decide which information should be included in the digest. Too much or too little information may have the same effect as being inundated with individual emails – members may simply delete it.

An easy-to-digest digest

To make sure digests are accessible and appealing to Simplelists list members, most formatting is stripped from the emails, in order to create a clean, easy to follow summary. A link is included for each message, which allows members to reply back to the list. If archives are enabled, links to attachments and the original emails are contained in the digest.

Enabling digest summaries

Enabling daily digest summaries is very easy. Log in and navigate to list members in the left hand menu. In the Address Book, you can see which members receive summaries and which don’t – a cross or a tick will appear next to their name in the ‘Digest format’ column. To enable daily digest summaries for specific members, edit their details by ticking the checkbox next to their name and selecting ‘Edit’. On the Edit Members screen, you can then check the ‘Digest’ box and then ‘Update’ to ensure that they receive it (a green tick should now show next to their name when you return to the Address Book).

When adding members to your list in bulk, you can set all members to receive digest summaries. Click on ‘Add many’ in the Address Book and then add your members’ details. Before clicking ‘Add Addresses’, make sure you have checked the ‘Set added members to receive daily digest email’ box on the left.

You can watch a demo of enabling daily digest summary emails in this short video.