I’ve had many clients that have chosen at certain points to set up an email subscriber system. The logistics of set up are fairly simple, but it’s the structure behind the scenes that can really make or break the entire process.
Basic setup questions:
Will you be using a single or double opt-in?
How will you collect / store the emails?
How will you be sending your newsletter emails?
Double opt-in versus single opt-in for your email subscriber list
What is a single opt-in? A single opt-in is simply opt-in that does not require any confirmation on the part of the person signing up to be added to your email list, ie the person signing up only has to enter their email address.
What is a double opt-in? A double opt-in requires the person signing up to verify their email via a confirmation email.
Why use a double opt-in over a simpler single opt-in process? The purpose of a double opt-in is to ensure that the person you’re sending your email to really wants your email. Without the double opt-in, Joe A could signup Joe B, when Joe B has zero want to get your emails. This then prompts Joe B to mark your email as spam. Marking your email as spam can have a huge negative impact on not only that single email but ultimately effect the domain that is attached to the email.
Using a double opt-in process creates subscriber list that will perform much better than a single opt-in since the users on your double list have confirmed, this shows they have more desire to interact with your content.
How will you store / collect your emails in your subscriber list – An Internal vs External service?
While you can definitely collect and store the emails on your server, in 99.999% cases I would recommend against this for a couple of reasons. Storing the information on your server means adding records to the database. This means that your database will be expanding with each new signup over time, this ongoing expansion will lead to a rather large database.
The other primary reason for not using an internal or built-in service is that your site will need to handle all the logistics. This means that you’ll need to figure out how to get the list connected to an email service to send the emails out. You can connect to your site/system to an email sending service such as MailGun. This requires a bit of work as you’ll need to get your system integrated to your list as you will need to modify several DNS entries to enable MailGun to send as well as create / find code that will send your email to the system.
There are two primary services that most people use MailChimp or Constant Contact. I prefer MailChimp since it allows most clients starting out to get a free account that does everything they need versus Constant Contact that starts out at $20 a month. Since for most clients cost is the primary determining factor, this is usually the primary consideration when initially selecting a mail service.
How are you going to send out your emails to your subscriber list?
Now let’s say that your plan is to simply import your list into your Google email and send from that email – simple right?
Well, Google limits the number of outbound emails per day to 2,000. While this initially sounds like a lot, once your email list grows, the limit becomes more of an actual hindrance. This limitation, coupled with the fact that unless your domain is attached to the email the factor at which your email will be labeled as spam / sent to the junk folder exponentially increases and what’s the point of sending an email that the recipient will never see or read. Lastly, sending from a generic Google email account doesn’t have the same professional viewability as an email sent from a standalone domain. Whose email would you open – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
With MailChimp and Constant Contact, they handle both the collection of the emails and the sending of the actual email itself. You will also get access to a fair amount of metrics that will allow you to gauge viewership for that email or email campaign.
MailChimp allows you to have 2,000 subscribers and/or send 12,000 emails per month completely free. With Constant Contact that same email list would cost approximately $40 a month.