Every business needs to keep in touch with it's clients. The ease of communication enabled by email combined with the ability to send a single message to a large number of people made un-targeted mass emailings and newsletters an easy way to keep in touch. Today, however, users receive a huge amount of unsolicited bulk e-mail (UBE). Discerning between UBE and a newsletter that may be desired can be difficult for end users and as a result most users have become turned off to company mailings in general. In reality this is all for the better as the web has evolved into a far better medium to reach clients.
The Downsides of Mass Emailing and Newsletters
As spam has grown on the Internet, so have the methods used to detect and eliminate it. While legislation almost always trails new technology, it's finally caught up in the mass emailing arena. The CAN-SPAM Act has imposed guidelines for any business sending out bulk mail. Most of the rules are common sense. However, the rules put yet another burden on a form of communication that is being phased out.
Failure to follow the rules of The CAN-SPAM Act can have devastating consequences. Sending out a newsletter without opt-out links for instance can result in a recipient reporting you as a spammer. Antispam software rely in part on blacklists for filtering known spammers. A company being listed on one of these blacklists can take hours or days to be cleared from it. In the meantime, emails sent to outside addresses are bounced back as recipients outside your company see you as being blacklisted. This could mean an interruption in your ability to communicate with clients and customers alike.
Many spam filtering techniques look at the number of recipients of email and at attachments such as PDFs. Large numbers of people on an email or enclosed PDFs can make your email more likely to be ranked as being spam. This can be mitigated through the use of listserv-type software. Many companies that do continue the newsletter/bulk email practice will also send through a dedicated company instead of taking the risk of blacklisting their domain. This of course has an additional downside where company communiqué appears to come from a third party which is just poor from a customer visibility perspective or you're forced to modify your setup to accommodate the requirements of the third party so they can send mail on your behalf (and thus put the safety of your email in their hands).
Your Website – Filling the Hole
Cutting out email as a method of sending out company updates doesn't mean you can't reach your customers. A better way to reach out is actually through your company website. Posting your newsletter there in the form of a company blog allows you to get the same message out. You don't have to worry about spam regulation compliance and there is no need to fear your emails being rejected due to simply putting your message out.
There are even more reasons to go with a blog. Consider that everything you put up on your website gets indexed by search engines. This means search engines will see your newsletter and allow them to be searchable. This can yield new visitors to your site and it can also provide a richer web experience. If clients are driven to your website instead of a PDF, they're more likely to see other items on your website. And since your site (hopefully) isn't static, when they revisit the article you had they'll see new updates.
Truly a Web of Connections
Putting your news related items up on the web doesn't by itself equate to an increase in clients and customers receiving your message. After all, how will your target audience know a new item is published? This is a particularly good question if they don't frequent your site all the time.
The answer is social networking. This is why a tie-in to Facebook or Twitter can help you tremendously in terms of your exposure. Status updates on popular networking sites can help your clients and customers know when new content is available. New messages will appear in their feeds and they can choose the content they want to view.
As a result, dropping your current un-targeted bulk emailings and focusing instead on your web site and social networking connections can yield the same result of getting the word out with added exposure to your web site and company without risking your company email being blacklisted.
The Future of Newsletters & Bulk E-mail
Okay, so maybe newsletters and bulk e-mail aren't really 'dead' in the sense that they shouldn't exist. They are, however, dead as we have come to know them. It's important to understand the impact they can have and the risks assumed while sending them. The real victim of the rise of social networking is that of un-targeted newsletters. In particularly, regular publishings pushed out to your audience at large (particularly generic publications without a reason for occurring other than time elapsed). While certainly you can mitigate the risks, work with third parties and overall run a 'successful' e-mail campaign, reaching out to your audience at large with an un-targetted message is ineffective and when you do want to target your audience with a message that is more likely to resonate, they will have become numb to your attempts at communication in the first place.
The best approach is one that combines occasional e-mail blasts for targeted updates with a resourceful website. Knowing your target audience is also important in spreading your message. Some age groups are less likely to be found on social networking sites and providing some contact via email can be helpful in such cases. Again, knowing your audience is key.
It's also important to consider the relationship in reverse. When continuing to still send bulk e-mail, tie-ins to social networking are important. They give your audience another means of checking out your message. This is particularly true when e-mail blasts may come once a quarter but company related news is published weekly. The metrics to all of these can be tracked (e-mail, social networking, etc) in ways that allow you to judge their effectiveness with your audience.
As social networking grows, it's very likely that it's importance will continue to rise in reaching your audience. As it does, your website's reflection of your business as a whole becomes more and more import. The more you can enrich your site and cut down on un-targeted bulk e-mail the more effective your message will become.
How simpleroute Can Help
The transition from email to the web as a medium of communication puts an increased importance on your website. We're experts at the web and can help you get your business online if you don't have a site or revamp your current site if it's in need of an update.
Through the use of a Content Management System, we can enable your own employees to edit your website content. This means easier updates which allows you to get the word out that much faster. We specialize in Drupal based sites for small business and can help you reach your target audience.
We also provide networking services so we can better help protect you against accidental blacklisting when you do have to send email updates.