I’m on the mailing list for a local wine shop. The weekly newsletters are great. They alert me to shop specials and let me know about wine tastings. I signed up for the newsletter when the wine shop first opened. Things had been going along merrily for about a year and a half. Then it turned into a nightmare.

One of the people on the newsletter had a wine joke he wanted to share. So he hit reply and sent his joke. With a proper newsletter the person who owns the list would receive the joke. That’s all. Sadly the wine shop newsletter wasn’t set up correctly. Every person that subscribed to the newsletter received an email from the jokester. After that things quickly went from bad to worse.

Another member of the group had a joke he wanted to share. Everyone on the mailing list received it. It really wasn’t a good joke. (I wasn’t the only one that thought so.) People clicked reply and complained about the joke. Everyone on the mailing list received the complaint emails. People began to catch on to what was happening. They urged people to stop replying. We all got their helpful hints but not everyone listened. People started complaining about getting spammed from the wine shop. About ten emails in someone asked to be removed from the mailing list. When the newsletter misadventure finally came to a close a lot of people had asked to be removed from the list.

I visited the owner of the wine shop in day two of the crisis. I’d never seen him looking so tired. His web developer was working on the problem he said. His best guess at that point was that he was going to end up losing a quarter of his list.

What went wrong? My guess is that the newsletter had been set up using a group email address. In a group email box situation you’d set up one email address that will distribute to a number of email addresses. This would enable to you to send one email to a lot of people at once. It’s fast and easy but as you can see, it’s very risky.

To avoid newsletter nightmares you need to use a proper newsletter system. I’ve worked with various systems and I have three to recommend:

  1. phplist – This is the system that I use for my newsletters. The software is free and is constantly being updated.
  2. Constant Contact – This is a very popular system. With this there is no software to install. Instead you pay a monthly fee based on the number of people in your mailing list.
  3. 1ShoppingCart.com – This is a great system if you’re also selling things on line. The system can be a little challenging to use at first because it does so much. 1ShoppingCart.com charges a straight monthly fee.

No matter what system you end up using the important thing is that you use a proper email system. As the local wine shop owner will tell you, this is not an area to pinch pennies.

If you have questions about newsletters please contact us.

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