GDPR and updated terms and conditions

You are no doubt aware that the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on 25 May 2018. Your inbox was probably full of messages from the various organisations and groups that hold your contact details, checking whether you still wish to receive messages from them and/or updating you about their privacy policy. Our members received an email explaining how Simplelists is complying with the regulation and we have shared that information here on our blog as well.

Simplelists GDPR

What is GDPR for?

The regulation aims primarily to give control to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU.

Who is affected?

GDPR affects Simplelists customers either based in the EU and/or who have list members in the EU.

What has Simplelists done to comply with the legislation?

In order to comply with the legislation, and to also to make it easier for our customers to comply with it, we have updated our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions. The new documents are available on our website in the footer of every page. As a general rule, the updates strengthen your rights, but if you do have any questions about the changes then please let us know. You can find our contact details here.

What do Simplelists customers need to do to comply with the legislation?

We have also added a GDPR Statement to our website, which will provide more information as to our compliance and how we can help you to comply. This statement is also available from the footer of every page on our website.

Simplelists provides email list hosting services to its customers, and as such is responsible for the secure and compliant processing of personal data related to our customers, as well as the protection of our customers’ information (which may include personal data) whilst it is being processed by one of our systems.

We believe that the new documents should assist those customers that do need to comply, but if you have any specific requirements or general questions, then please get in touch.

How to search your email archives

Simplelists keeps a record of all of the emails that have been sent to your list. This archive can be useful for new list members who might need to quickly get to grips with topics that have already been covered in a private group discussion. It is also a great tool for keeping a back up of all of your communications. If you haven’t already, you can learn how to set up, view and personalise the archive in a recent post on our blog. Below, we explain how to search your email archive, allowing you to find old emails using a keyword search.

Archive search

Finding the right message in a busy list

Busy lists that have existed for a long time can accumulate thousands of emails over many years. When new members join a list, they can be granted permission to read emails that were sent before they joined, and access old emails about a specific subject. To do this, the Simplelists email archive has a keyword search function that allows you to look for old emails by keyword. You can also browse all messages by date or by thread.

Accessing the archive

You can find the archive search function from the Members Home page once you have logged in to your Simplelists account. Under ‘What would you like to do?’, click on ‘View list archives’. If your list manager has set up a password for accessing the archive, you will need to enter this. Otherwise, you can request an access code by entering your email address.

Once in the mail archive, messages are grouped by month and year, with the search box at the top. Type in your keyword and the relevant emails will be displayed. On this page, you can also view list statistics and read more information about your list.

Search tips

We all know how to use a search box but these tips might come in useful if you’re not entirely sure of the best keyword to search for:

Wildcard ‘?’ – Type the ? symbol and it will be replaced with any single character. This is handy when you’re not sure how a word should be spelt. For example, you might be looking for an old email titled ‘Worthington Event’ but you had forgotten if ‘Worthington’ was spelled with an ‘o’ or a ‘i’ you can type ‘W?rthington’ and the results will show emails with both spellings.

Wildcard ‘*’ – Type the * symbol and it will be replaced with any number of characters. Using the previous example, if you weren’t at all sure how to spell ‘Worthington’ you could type ‘W*ton’. The search results will show all emails that start with a ‘w’ and end with the letters ‘ton’, including ‘Worthington’.

You can also search by keyword for specific months. Browse to the month of the email that you are looking for and then search while in that month. The search will geneate results only for that month.

A reminder of our features

Simplelists is designed to be quick, easy and simple to use. It also has a selection of powerful features for users who want more from their email management software. People who sign up to Simplelists do so for many reasons. They may want a way to manage group email discussions, use email for marketing purposes, or send regular updates and other information to list members. We are often asked what Simplelists can do, so this short post is a reminder of our features.

Simplelists features

 Manage members

  • Add members to your list You can add members to your list in bulk from a spreadsheet or .csv file. You can also easily download your list members’ email addresses to a spreadsheet.
  • Set posting permissions You can select who can send emails to your list. This can be: all members, selected members or just yourself.
  • Manage replies You can decide whether replies are sent to the whole list or just to the person who sent the original email.

Set restrictions

  • Moderate messages You can choose to hold messages for approval before they are sent to your list
  • Restrict email size You can limit the size of emails, strip attachments from emails, and more.
  • Control list viewing You can keep members’ names and email addresses hidden or let them be seen by other members.

Customise your emails

  • Add a personalised footer You can do this to personalise your email and include information about you or your company/group.
  • Include HTML You can include HTML in your emails, enabling you to customise your emails.
  • Include members’ names You can personalise your emails by automatically adding members’ names at the start of an email.
  • Archive emails You can archive all emails – they can be accessed from a custom website at any time.
  • Daily digest summaries These can be useful for busy lists. Instead of receiving emails when they are posted, members receive one email every 24 hours.

Control subscriptions

  • Set subscribe and unsubscribe options You can choose whether new members can join your list, and whether this requires approval.
  • Add a subscription form You can add a subscribe form to your website. It is fully customisable, so you can change it to match your website perfectly.

Integrate with websites

  • Brand your landing pages On all landing pages you can replace the Simplelists heading with your own logo or branding.
  • Synchronise your account with websites An API is available, which allows you to synchronise your Simplelists account with other websites.
  • Integrate emails with your domain A multiple list account can be integrated with your domain so that users receive emails from your domain, rather than Simplelists.

Automated list management

  • Notification of bounced emails When an email to one of your members bounces, you will receive a message to let you know.
  • Automatic processing of bounced email addresses List members with emails addresses that bounce emails repeatedly are automatically removed from your list, saving you time.
  • Automatic spam management If a list member marks your email as spam, they will automatically be removed from the list. This ensures that repeated emails are not marked as spam, which keeps delivery rates high.

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.

Add list members from a spreadsheet

When you start to build an email list you may only have a few members. If this is the case, inputting people’s details manually via the Simplelists members area is straightforward. When your list starts to grow, you may find it helpful to add a large number of subscribers at one time, from a spreadsheet. It is also useful to have a spreadsheet copy of all your list members for your own records. In this short post, we explain how to add members to your list from a spreadsheet.

Add list members from spreadsheet

Prepare the spreadsheet

First, open your spreadsheet. Your spreadsheet only needs three columns:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email address

If a name is missing, don’t worry as it can be left blank. You can also add notes in another column.

Remove any headers and titles from the spreadsheet (you may need to delete a row to do this). Your list is now ready to go.

Save as a .csv file

Save the file as a .csv file type using the ‘Save As’ dialog box in your spreadsheet program. You may be asked if you are that you wish to save as a .csv file. Just select ‘OK’ or ‘Yes’ when asked. Remember where you save your file.

Upload to Simplelists

Finally, you want to upload the file to Simplelists. Log in to Simplelists and select the ‘List members’ page. Click on the ‘Upload file’ tab and search for the file that you saved earlier. Make sure that ‘comma separated’ is chosen in the drop-down menu on the ‘Upload file’ page in Simplelists. Then, click ‘Next’.

On the next screen (‘Select fields’), select the correct field name for each column of the file (First name, Last name, Email address, etc.). Then, click ‘Next’.

The next screen will show you some ‘Upload options’ which you can choose to select or not:

  1. By default an entry’s name will be updated when the email address matches an entry already in your address book. If you would also like to update the email address if the full name matches then please check this box.
  2. Send confirmation requests to all addresses uploaded (except those already in the address book and already confirmed).
  3. Delete current address book entries that are not in uploaded file.

When you have selected any options you wish to activate, click ‘Finish’. The new members will now be added to your list. You can check that they have been added by viewing your address book from the ‘Members home’ page.

You can also watch a short video of these instructions in an earlier post on our blog.

Setting email posting permissions

Simplelists is designed to be flexible so that it will suit your needs exactly. You might want to send email newsletters to a list of customers with you alone being able to post to the list. Or, maybe you have a team of people who will all need to be able to send emails to your customers. Or, perhaps you would like to use your list for a private group discussion and you would like anyone on the list to be able to contribute. Whatever your needs, you can customise your list by setting posting permissions. In this short post, we explain how you do this.

Posting restrictions

Login and navigate ‘list settings’ in the left hand menu. Under the ‘Posting restrictions’ tab you will see the heading ‘posting permissions’ with three radio buttons next to it:

  • Allow anyone to send messages
  • Hold all messages for approval
  • Choose specific people who can send messages

If you select ‘Allow anyone to send messages’, this permits both members and non-members to send messages to your list without approval being necessary. As an alternative, you can choose to ‘Hold all messages for approval’.

Or, select ‘Choose specific people who can send messages’ to grant specific people permission to send messages to the list. With this third option, you can select all list members or provide the individual email addresses of those permitted to send messages to the list. Just enter their addresses in the box that appears when you select this option. This setting is useful for private group discussions as you can choose to have only specific people post to the list. This setting is also useful for email marketing and newsletters.

Email replies

When thinking about permissions, you may wish to consider where email replies are sent. Select the ‘Email customisation’ tab and, under the heading ‘List replies’, choose whether the reply is sent to the person who sent the original message (select ‘Replies go to poster of message’) or to the whole list (select ‘Replies go to list email addresses’). In this section you also have the option to strip attachments from the messages that are sent, truncate long messages to a set character limit, and add a message footer to be attached to all emails sent.

You can watch these instructions in a short video in a previous post on our blog.

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.

Using your own domain with Simplelists

If you have a multiple list account, you can use your own domain to replace simplelists.com. In fact, you can add as many domains as you like, which means you can totally brand the system as your own. Combine using your own domain with branding your landing pages for truly professional results. This short post will explain how to use your own domain and, once you have done this, how to improve the deliverability of your emails.

Using your own domain

Set up your own domain

Setting up your own domain is easy. Log in to your Simplelists multiple list account, navigate to ‘General Settings’ in the left-hand menu and select the ‘Domains’ tab. Enter your domain name and click ‘Add’. In the list that follows, set your domain name as ‘primary’. You can then view your new email addresses on the ‘List members’ page in the left-hand menu.

Configure MX records

Once your domain name is added, you must configure its mail exchange records, using your web hosting control panel. Set the Primary MX record to ‘mx1.simplelists.com’ and the Secondary to ‘mx2.simplelists.com’. You can see instructions for how to do this using cPanel in this short video. Note that it can take up to 72 hours for the MX changes to come into effect, depending on your web hosting settings.

Make sure your emails are received

There are some simple steps that you can take to improve the deliverability of your emails. SPF records prevent spammers from sending messages with forged email addresses from your domain. DKIM records help to verify the sender and prove that a message has not been altered in transit.

If you are using your own domain, it is recommended that you add both of these DNS records to your domain. When logged into Simplelists with your multiple list account selected, navigate to ‘General Settings’ and the ‘Domains’ tab. Scroll down to find the details you’ll need to add the DNS records. You can then open your web hosting control panel and complete the required fields for the SPF and DKIM records. You can see instructions for how to do this using cPanel in this short video.

All of these instructions can be viewed in two short videos on a previous post on our blog.

Setting up multiple lists with Simplelists

Sometimes, you need more than one email list. You may need separate lists for different businesses, groups or organisations, or different lists for groups within your organisation. For example, one list for employees and another for managers, or individual lists for different topics, such as one list for marketing and another for discussion. In this short post, we tell you how to set up multiple lists using Simplelists (or watch a short video if you prefer).

Multiple email lists

Getting started

It is very straightforward to set up multiple lists. Simply go to simplelists.com, navigate to Products, select the blue ‘Sign up free for a multiple list’ arrow and fill in your details. You’ll have the option to choose a subdomain for your list (if you own your own domain, you’ll be able to add this later). There is a free, one-month trial for multiple lists so that you can try before you buy.

Managing the lists

To manage your multiple lists, simply log in using your simplelists username and password and select your multiple lists account from the ‘Account’ drop-down menu on the top right of the screen. On the next screen, verifying your account enables you to add members to your lists without needing them to confirm their email address (although you can still use the confirmation functionality to check that emails are valid). Simply enter the details of your organisation, what your list is used for, and how you obtained the emails (you can read another post about the rules around how people can opt-in to receiving your emails). Once you have done this, you can create a list by navigating to ‘manage lists’ in the left-hand menu, type in the name of the list, and click ‘Create’. This is where you could create a number of lists for your different groups (e.g. managers, employees and customers).

Adding members to your lists

Once you have created the lists, you can add some members. Select the address book from the left-hand navigation and choose to add members individually, in bulk, or by uploading a .csv file. If you choose to add them individually, you can enter their details and their email address and then select which list they will belong to. You can also add notes about the members if you wish. 

To view the members of your list, select ‘list members’ from the left-hand menu. The email address for your list can be seen at the top of this page. It is possible to use your own domain name for this email address and we will show you how to do this in an upcoming blog post, or you can view a short video that explains what to do).