I’ve sent a monthly newsletter since the late-90s. Here’s how I do this:

  1. First of all, you can’t spam. If you send hundreds of emails via GMail, Yahoo, AOL, or whatever, the ISPs will mark you as a spammer and all of your emails will be blocked. Your domain name will also be blocked. There’s a anti-spam coalition of 17 major ISPs where they share information about spammers. If you spam in Yahoo, you can’t just jump over to AOL and continue there: they will know about you before you show up. It’s impossible to get yourself unblocked.
  2. You must also have “double opt-in”; people subscribe and then confirm they subscribed. Otherwise, again, you may be tagged as a spammer.
  3. I use MailChimp because it lets me start for free. I can send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 people per month for free (I plan to send only one email per month). When I go over that, I pay about a penny per email.

The danger is too much success: If you should be so unlucky as to get 500,000 subscribers, it will cost $2,500 to send a newsletter. So keep an eye on the number of subscribers! You don’t want lots of subscribers, you want a good list of subscribers who are interested in what you offer.

How to Collect Your Email Addresses

Here is how to download your email addresses from GMail, LinkedIn, and Facebook, plus your business  cards:

  • Gmail: Click Gmail (red button, far left). Select Contacts. Click More. Select All Contacts. Save as CSV
  • LinkedIn: Go to LinkedIn | Click My Network | Connections (top, middle). Click the gear icon (far right). Click on Export LinkedIn Connections (right column). In the “Export to:” dropdown menu, select Microsoft CSV.
  • Facebook: Create a Yahoo email account. Go to address.yahoo.com and click the Facebook icon. Sign in with your Facebook ID. This imports your Facebook address book to your Yahoo Mail account. Go to Yahoo | Tools | Import. Export as CSV. Or select ALL, press Control+A to Copy All, and paste in a text file.
  • Business Cards: Use a business card scanner ($200-300) to scan business cards. Save these to a spreadsheet. You can also use smart phone apps to take photos of cards and convert to text.

You should do this as soon as possible. Facebook may get the bright idea to block this so you can’t get your list. Wait… in fact, they already did. You can’t download your email contacts from Facebook anymore. So I showed you a hack that lets you download these via Yahoo.

Scrub the List

For my list, I had about 5,500 email addresses. These are  1) the old newsletter, 2) my email contact list, 3) scanned business cards, 4) business contacts. However, many of the email addresses are no longer active. If I sent to 5,500 and get many bad deliveries, the email delivery service may block me as a spammer. So I need to remove bad emails.

To do this, I used an email scrubber service. It scrubs the list by testing the emails to see which are active or inactive.

I upload the list (Excel format) to http://synapp.io , click a button, and wait a few hours. They send me an email when it’s ready. It costs US$0.07 per email, so US$7.00 for 1,000. It sends me a new Excel file which tells me 1,200 are active, some 600 are “maybe”, and 702 are inactive.

Designing the Newsletter

The design and content of your newsletter is important. People form their impression of you on what you present to them. If it’s professional, interesting, and useful, they’ll see that. If it’s sloppy or rambling,  they’ll see that too.

  1. What’s the message of your newsletter? What do you want to say? What should people understand when they see your newsletter? “This newsletter offers ______________________.”
  2. The message of your newsletter should be a single concept. If you write about your swimming pool service, then whatever you write has to be about swimming pool services. If you mix concepts (such as swimming pool service and laptops), people will get confused and lose clarity about you.
  3. Once you know your message, the design will follow. Remove anything that doesn’t support the message.
  4. It’s much better if you hire a professional graphics person (which means they graduated from an accredited art and graphics school).
  5. Each newsletter should be about a single point that fits within your overall message. Don’t send a newsletter that covers five or six different things (swimming pool services, laptops, trip to Yellowstone, a new coffee at Starbucks, your puppy). People are overwhelmed with emails, text messages, Facebook updates, tweets, Snapchats, cat videos… if it takes more than a few seconds, they’ll just ignore it. Make the point. And do it in five or six lines.
  6. Give them something to do. End the newsletter with a clear button to click.
  7. There’s many more things you can do, but these are the important ones.

See followup and results.