We’ve talked about Spam previously. By that I mean unwanted emails, not the tinned meat made famous by Monty Python.
Sending spam emails is illegal in many countries subject to certain rules. All European Union countries have anti-spam laws that vary from country to country, but in simple terms it means receivers of emails must have either requested to be put on a mailing list, or have previously had communication with the sender (such as being a customer), and have the option to unsubscribe from further emails.
A number of organisations have cropped up to fight spam including Spamhaus and Spamcop that try to identify spammers and block them from sending emails. Unfortunately, they have been known to block non-spammers by mistaking a large number of emails to clients, particularly with attachments (proofs, graphics, documents) as spamming attempts instead of a normal business function. They have even blocked domestic email addresses after someone sends out their wedding pictures to friends and family.
A way round this new problem is to use a bulk email system, many of which offer free versions of their system to domestic or small business users. Anyone found genuinely spamming on their system are thrown off and probably reported. All of them offer a range of templates and easy-to-use ways of creating your emails.
Constant Contact (www.constant-contact.com) is a well-known system aimed at businesses with a small monthly subscription. It offers tools to track who opened their emails, so you can remove people that are obviously not interested, and let you know which of your emails were most popular for future campaigns.
Mail Chimp (www.mailchimp.com) and Simply Cast (www.simplycast.com) both offer free services if you have less than 2000 contacts, with Vertical Response’s free service (www.verticalresponse.com) ending at 1000 contacts.
Don’t think that just because you’re only sending to friends, or that your business is small that you don’t need these services. Having your email blocked as a possible spammer will cause a much bigger headache in the future.