Before sending your email newsletter, you obviously have to create a mailing list. This article will show you a straight forward solution to create mailing lists using tools that you already have at your disposal.
1. Identify your mailing list sources
You don’t have to look too far for your mailing list members! Amazingly, many people tend to ignore the most obvious mailing list source: contacts with whom you already established a connection. Assuming your plan is not to spam random people over the Internet, you can easily create your mailing list around contacts that (one way or the other) expressed an interest to communicate with your business:
– people that bought your products / services before;
– people that subscribed to your mailing list;
– people that emailed you with questions about your offer.
These sources must be part of your first mailing list. These people already manifested interest in your business, so they are the ones most likely to show interest in your newsletter content. Plus, they are highly unlikely to consider your emails as spam, because your newsletter interests them.
Unfortunately, all these sources are usually scattered: your customers are saved as purchase order emails or as entries in your accounting database, your mailing list subscribers are saved as web form emails or as entries in your mailing list management panel while the rest of your potential mailing list members are part of Inbox emails or Contacts defined in your favorite email program. How do you get them together to create a single mailing list?
2. Extract your mailing list members
This is actually the trickiest part. If you haven’t done it before, it may seem like a task that will take forever, as you would have to go through all your emails and copy / paste the desired email addresses to a mailing list file. Luckily, there are software tools at your disposal, capable of automating this process for you. You can literally create your mailing list in a few minutes.
Meet Email Address Collector. If you manage your emails using any popular Windows email client (Outlook, Thunderbird, Outlook Express, Eudora, etc), you can use it to:
– search for emails containing certain words in their subject line or body content (like “purchase order” or “web mail form”) and extract email addresses from them;
– search for emails in certain email folders (like “Customers”) and extract email addresses only from these messages;
– extract email addresses from CSV, Excel or PDF files (any accounting software knows how to export data to these file formats);
– eliminate duplicates and mix all results into a single table that will become your mailing list!
3. Import your mailing list to your newsletter program
Email Address Collector can export both the email addresses and the related contact names as Outlook Contacts, as Outlook distribution lists or simply as a CSV file. Then you can import the CSV file to any email campaign program, like Easy Mail Merge.
4. Manage your mailing list subscribers
Once you start sending emails to your mailing list subscribers, you will notice that some emails will bounce back as undeliverable simply because some mailing list addresses will turn out not to be in-use anymore. Again, you can use Email Address Collector to filter these emails (they always contain “undeliverable” keywords in their content) and extract the bounced email addresses to a new CSV file. Then you can use an Excel formula or a low cost, dedicated list operations tool like QuickList to compare the bounced list against your original mailing list and eliminate the bounced email addresses from your mailing list, leaving you with a clean mailing list.
As a side note, I strongly suggest NOT to create a mailing list around email addresses that were bought from people that sell mailing lists or that were collected from various web sites. I know it is very tempting to suddenly own a huge mailing list created with little effort… but, unless you really, really know what you’re doing, stay away from such email addresses because they are very likely to get your email account (and web site domain name) blacklisted. As a result, you will end up not being able to contact even those people that actually want to be reached by your emails! Not to mention the trouble you will have explaining your mass emails to your email provider. Always create a mailing list only with people that manifested interest in your offer, one way or the other.