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.

 

How to build an email list

If you are using Simplelists for marketing, you will understand the importance of having a healthy email list to ensure that you can contact a range of clients and drive success in your business. If you are just starting a business, building a list of contacts or ‘members’ can be a challenge, especially at a time when your customers are receiving other marketing messages in their inbox and becoming more sensitive to spam. Despite these challenges, there are some simple and effective ways to develop a relevant list of members who will want to receive your emails.

Build an email list

Make it easy for people to sign up to your list

There are several ways that you can encourage people to sign up (‘opt-in’) to receiving your emails. You could put a form on your website – make sure it looks ‘clean’ and matches the rest of the site, place it near the top of the page, and add a short piece of text to explain ‘what’s in it for them’ if they sign up. You can read one of earlier posts that explains how to create a subscribe form for your site, using Simplelists. Try not to ask for too much information at this stage – an email address is really all you need, although asking for a first name will also allow you to personalise your emails when you contact them.

Other places you could consider placing a subscribe form are: after blog posts, in your site’s footer, on your ‘About’ page, or in a popup box (although browsers tend to discourage pop-ups these days as people can find them irritating). You can also use social media to encourage people to sign up and/or visit your website. If you are a keen blogger, writing guest blogs accompanied with a sign-up form can also work well.

Sign up at the point of sale or when completing other forms

If your website/product requires people to set up an account or fill in a form on your website, you could also incorporate email list sign-up into this process. Make sure that the reason/incentive for registering is clear though, and relevant to your target audience. You could make it as simple as including a check box that reads ‘Subscribe to our mailing list?’ that they can check when registering.

Word of mouth/events

It can be effective to offer those people who have been on your list for a while a small incentive or discount that may encourage them to tell others about your site/product. Make sure you ask for the friend’s email address and first name (again, to allow personalisation).

Let them know what to expect

It is good practice to make sure that your customers know exactly what to expect when they subscribe to your list. You should let them know what to expect with regards email frequency and content, and reassure them that they can unsubscribe at any time. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the law surrounding email marketing so that you don’t break any of the rules.