The first thing to know is that you should not send email “blasts” from your own personal email account. We have moved on from the days of receiving emails chock full of jokes and cutesy cat photos from everyone we ever mailed. It is really bad form since in most cases all email addresses are visible to others and you are not provided with a way to unsubscribe from these mass mailings. Senders of legitimate messages should know that messages sent from their own email accounts are likely to get caught in spam filters.
There are many email service companies that make it easy to send group emails while meeting all of the legal anti-spam requirements. These commercial email service providers (ESPs) have software that allows people to sign up to mailing lists. Their automated systems require people to opt-in to your list by confirming their email addresses and their desire to be on your list. The names and emails of the individuals that opted–in to be on the list are then added to a database in your ESP account. These companies also make it easy for people to unsubscribe from your email list when they no longer want to receive email from you.
ESPs do a good job of prohibiting people from sending out email to people who did not ask to be on their lists. As a result, the various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) allow the email from these email companies a better chance of getting through firewalls than if you send it out yourself.
The ESPs can help you organize your list by groups and offer you different ways to send email. They also provide email templates and let you create such things as autoresponder messaging so you can “drip” emails to your readers on a particular schedule.
MailChimp is the email service provider I recommend for the following reasons:
- A premium account is absolutely free for lists containing up to 2,000 names.
- When starting an account, you can import a list of people to your MailChimp list without having to ask them to opt-in a second time – if they have opted in before. Some providers won’t let you import a list without starting over with the opt-in process. Requiring your list to opt-in a second time will cause you to lose a significant number of subscribers who don’t follow through.
- The MailChimp user interface is clean and friendly.
- MailChimp reports are easy to read and understand so you can track your results.