How to Send Large Volumes of Email
Email is a useful marketing tool for micro-businesses. Quick and easy, it is a low-cost way to keep in touch or promote special offers, but sending out significant volumes can be more complex.
There are two despatch methods:
- An email client such as Microsoft Outlook.
- Email despatch software of which there are two kinds: purchased software or a bureau solution where the micro-business subscribes to a service that does it for them.
This is best suited to small lists and where graphics or pictures of the products are not needed.
The list of recipients should be included in the contacts list (Address Book in Microsoft Outlook) and inserted into the Blind Carbon Copy (bcc) field with your own email address in the To box.
Using the bcc field ensures that recipients cannot see who else is on the distribution list. This is good practise throughout the world, but is essential in the UK to comply with the Data Protection Act.
It’s a quick and easy solution but doesn’t offer the advantages of email despatch software.
Email despatch software
The principles are the same whether you purchase email software or use a bureau (hosted) email despatch solution. First of all, you need a list of email addresses and what you want to send (both as an html display and plain text file). Both are then uploaded to the system via a Control Panel, stored for future use, combined and then despatched at a time of your choosing – either immediately or scheduled for the future.
It also means that sending out graphics and images is absolutely fine, plus the files can be used for unlimited volumes and repeated often.
Template designs are usually available if you don’t want the expense of designing your own email. Simply choose one and insert your logo and required text into it.
Email despatch software has many advantages including:
- Unsubscribe facility. Legally, emails need to have a link for recipients to opt-out of future emails. This can be automatically inserted and will also update your list if clicked. This is aUK legal requirement as defined by The Office of The Information Commissioner.
- Bounceback Management. ‘Bouncebacks’ are returned emails received because they are undeliverable (the address is invalid, the person has left the workplace or their mailbox is full), or an Out of Office is received, or the person replies. Hosted solutions will ‘read’ these bouncebacks and either update the database (for invalid addresses), or forward them to you for action, such as with a Reply.
- Reporting. The system will allow you to track how many emails were opened, at what time of day, by whom and what they subsequently did, i.e. whether they clicked through to your website, deleted the email, or forwarded it. The individual email addresses that did each action can also be downloaded for later usage, if required, including Bouncebacks and Unsubscribes.
- Newsletter facility. Visitors can register on your website for regular updates with new registrants automatically entered into the database and sent a welcome email. The email solution provider will provide you with the lines of code needed for a web designer to incorporate the facility into your website, including data capture fields.
Hosted Solution or Purchase?
The choice mainly depends on how often you send campaigns and your server capacity.
Purchased solutions need a server capable of handling the volume of emails you plan to send. Micro-businesses often do not have their own server so may favour a hosted solution. Hosted solutions charge based on the number of emails sent so there may come a point when it is more economical to purchase software. Hosted solutions are inexpensive though. It can cost as little as £50 to send out 2,000 emails over a 12 month period, including provision of a newsletter subscription service.
If you send out frequent campaigns you may prefer to have the software on your own desktop computer for ease of access. Hosted solutions are provided via a browser link so are reliant on your internet connection.
Sometimes a despatch system is included with other software, such as Sage, Salesforce or Goldmine. These may be sufficient for your needs, but they often don’t provide the flexibility, elegance and features of a hosted solution or specific software package.
There’s more to sending out email campaigns than just the software used, you also have to make sure the email is well-written and effective. Read Making Email Campaigns More Effective to find out how to structure email campaigns and Email Campaign Logistics and Best Practises to make sure you stay legal and deliver customer service. Advice on measuring the results of campaigns can be found in Measuring Marketing with guidance on how to make them more effective given in Testing.