The Opt In to My eMailing List Test

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For some time, I have been thinking about how to keep in touch with people in my professional world. I have tested using twitter and facebook accounts for DMWAustin and LinkedIn and am still learning of their value for me and to you all. I’ve also had a desire to develop an emailing list that I can use to distribute targeted and broad updates. Not as much for selling things to people, but keeping those that might be interested aware of what I’ve been up to and what I’m thinking. For some, it might just be interesting or content we mutually find worthwhile and, yes, it may also help keep me in people’s mind if a great project arose that I might be a perfect fit.

As I pondered pushing email updates into people’s inboxes, I thought a lot about doing it right. I didn’t want to be one of those people that abused your email account. The first step was choosing an email service that was the strictest about list etiquette – Mailchimp – and not just dumping the 3303 emails from my contacts list in and hitting send.

While researching best practices, I came across a blog post called “ReClaim Old Customer Emails” that told the story of how a company sent a personalized note to all of the emails in his contact list explained what they were doing and then asked them to opt in. It was brilliant and I thought it was very respectful. So, I wanted to test it.

The method. I found a way to use mail merge with Google Docs and my email in Google Apps to send personalized emails (Dear Kate…). I crafted a very simple email letter explaining my intent and included a link to “double opt in” (you have to enter your email address in a form AND confirm by clicking an email that comes to the email you subscribed with) to subscribe. I sent the email to 3000 people in my contact list with my request and warned I would send one reminder.

The result was amazing. I received lots of positive feedback from busy professionals, whom I really respect, thanking me for honoring their inbox and letting them decide to subscribe. Most subscribed or promised to soon. I only received a couple of nasty grams from folks who didn’t recognize my name or read a line or two and assumed I had already added them to a list and was spamming them. Interestingly, they were all from the same industry. In the end, 200 of those emails resulted in a subscriber; people who really did want to hear from. It also means two-thirds of my list open and read an email update when I send it and few unsubscribe. It was a great success for me and, while it involved a lot of extra work to do, I’m pleased at the result.

Disclaimer: All that said, there are a few of you who may find you’ve received an email update and are on my list but don’t recall opting-in. I did have a small initial list with friends, family, and professional contacts that predated this process. If you receive an update and want to unsubscribe, please feel free to at the bottom of any email you receive. I will not be offended and thank you.