This article was co-written by Ed Eby, WorldVenture’s Senior Network Administrator.
Your day starts out fantastic with your morning devotions. You saunter down a sunny sidewalk waving to friends and acquaintances, stopping to talk with a homeless guy on the way. By the time you get to the coffee shop, you’re feeling invincible. This is the day that the Lord has made, and you are really rejoicing in it.
While in line for your Latté Grandé, you meet a young mother who’s obviously a busy professional. She’s wearing a sharp business suit, carrying a fussy child in her left arm, and her cup of coffee in her right.
You sit with her and listen to her story, knowing that this is a God-moment. She’s a single mother who feels like she’s working eighteen hours a day, who has constant fights with her mother, and who isn’t quite sure if she’s going to be able to pay rent this month. She opens her heart to you, and she seems interested in the church plant that you’ve just started. At the end of the conversation, you convince her to exchange business cards in the hope that you can continue the conversation at some point in the future.
When you get home, you pull out her card and type her email address into your growing email contact list. You’ve been working on a new newsletter and you can’t wait to tell the world about what God’s doing.
Wait. Not really.
You don’t realize it, but you may have just set yourself up for failure. Additionally, you may have just broken the law (US: CAN-SPAM. Canada: CASL).
The woman at the coffee shop never said to you, “I want to receive your newsletter.” We don’t know why she gave you her card.
- Maybe she saw you as a father/mother figure and wanted to get together for coffee again.
- Maybe she wants to check out your new church.
- Maybe she gave you her card because that’s what she’s been trained to do as a professional.
- Maybe she wants your business and thinks exchanging cards is the best way to do it.
Weeks and months go on, and you have dozens of encounters like the one above. But for some weird reason, your email address starts getting flagged as spam. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) gets blacklisted on the Internet. You can’t figure it out. All you want to do is to share the love of Jesus.
The problem is that you don’t understand “Opt-In.”
You never want to send your newsletter emails to a person who hasn’t specifically said, “I want to receive your newsletter.” Even at that, you will have people that opt-in, but then forget they’ve asked for it.
Any person on the Internet has the ability to anonymously flag your email as spam. So that means you have to be very kind in your emailing, taking people’s wishes and feelings very seriously.
Your goal is to sow seeds of love with your emails. If you’re sending to people who have not opted in, or who have forgotten that they’ve opted in, then you’re sowing seeds of frustration and anger.
It’s better to have a very short list of people who love you and who want to read your emails, rather than a huge list of people who are angry with you.
MailChimp has an excellent article on Single Opt-in vs. Double Opt-in.
So what should you do?
First of all, call that young lady and see what you can do to help. Maybe you can arrange child care so that she can get a night off. Maybe you can help her with the rent next month. Or perhaps you can have coffee with her again so that she can share her heart. Most importantly, share Jesus’ love with her.
Secondly, stop breaking the law. Make sure that everyone on your list has Opted in or perhaps Double Opted in. You may have to contact your ISP in order to get the Blacklisting remediated.
Hopefully, with a little bit of knowledge, your online experience will be a lot more pleasant and productive.
God bless you on your journey.
Nikole Hahn’s Creative Ideas and Resources for Your Newsletter:
- Mailchimp Opt-in vs. Double Opt-in
- Send an Email no later than a week after sign-up to remind them why they signed up to receive your newsletters.
- Mail Chimp has a re-send option for non-opens. In their paid plan, they also have suggested times to send when a person is most likely to open their email.
- 19 Examples of Brilliant Email Campaigns
- Use your newsletter to minister and inform.
- Know your audience and how they communicate. Email has a 22% commercial open rate on average. Arts and artists have 26.27% open rate. Take a look at this link to see where your average open rate falls.
- Use segmenting or tagging to break up your list between those that want to hear from you once weekly or once monthly.
- Study your data on your email service. Use that data to inform your content and how often to send an update.
- A Smart Algorithm Looked at 16 Billion Emails, And Here is What it Learned (pay close attention to the age groups and when to send at the beginning of the article).
- Newsletters can be for devotionals, ministry updates, prayer updates, etc. Keep them short and frequent.
- Don’t market. Connect. Encourage.