Email has become a big part of the way we do business and because it was one of the earliest “web technologies”, we can look back at the email system and easily say it could have been done a lot better when we set up the way it is handled back in the early 1990’s.  But that’s water under the bridge.  We’re working with what we have and it’s tricky business whether you’re talking about sending simple transactional emails, not to mention sending a broadcast email like a newsletter.

The good news after that gloomy opening: We have some pretty good tools in place to make the sending of bulk email fairly simple for you.  It’s a multi-step process, but once you read through this post and spend a few minutes learning the ropes, you’ll actually find it to be a pretty convenient solution.

First, just a tiny bit of background.  Email is a tool and like any other tool, it can be used for productive purposes or for something less than ideal.  We’re all familiar with the time-saving convenience that allows The Guiding Star Project to move forward and get things done quickly.  Sadly others found email to be an easy way to sell a wide variety of products, con people out of money, and gather info for identity fraud.  Those “Internet Bad Guys” are commonly referred to as “Spammers” and most email recipients don’t want messages from the spammers, so mail providers like Gmail, Yahoo, MSN and your internet service / mobile phone provider have put filtering in place to block those junk messages.  Oh, and here’s the really fun part – each company puts their own policies in place so everybody plays by different rules!  The same filters intended to make our lives easier as email recipients also make it more difficult for us to send a large quantity of emails to our subscribers & supporters because, in general, the filters don’t care much about the content of the messages, they look more at how many messages are being sent and how the email is coming to the recipient.  In the end, when sending a large quantity of emails, the sender is “guilty until proven innocent”.

Overview of how our solution works:

Emails sent out to multiple recipients (more than 19) should be considered a Newsletter and should be handled through this type of system so you don’t raise any red flags which could jeopardize our “sender reputation”.  Newsletters are handled on the website as Posts.  Simply create a post and ensure that the post is included in the “Newsletter” category.  Once a day, the website will automatically send out your newsletter to all those who are included on the Subscriber list … that newsletter will include any new posts in the Newsletter category.  Emails are sent out 70 per hour until the entire list is completed.  By limiting the number of emails per hour, your emails will be viewed by the filtering software as being sent in a responsible manner … this helps us clear a lot of filters and increases the percentage of messages that reach their desired reputation.

Newsletters are not sent through our usual server … Let’s face it, we have a great organization and we know we’re all good people doing the right things, but the big email-handling businesses don’t know us at all.  So to add “credibility” to our reputation we use a third-party “big name” email sending service (AuthSMTP) who pre-screens us as an email sender.  This also helps improve our deliverability rate.  It also helps handle bounce-backs and prevent one bad email incident from messing up the reputation of the whole Guiding Star Project.

Oh, and by the way… if you are reading this in your Inbox, it’s because I used the same tools to send this to you from the site.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  • Log in to your website to set up your subscriber list (this is a one-time process – once your subscriber list is on the site, it will stay there permanently).
  • You’ll find a menu item on the left side of the administrative dashboard for MailPoet.  Under that menu item, select Subscribers.
  • To add a single name & email address, click on the Add Subscriber button.  For multiple additions to the list, click on Import
  • Fill in the blanks as instructed on the screen.  If you are just adding one, click on Subscribed and Newsletter.  If you are using the Import function – be sure you import to the Newsletter list.

You MAY have multiple subscriber lists for different groups of people, each list must have its’ own newsletter and its’ own Post Category.  You may send one post to multiple lists at the same time.

  • When you have content to send out to your list, create a Post and be sure the proper Post Category is checked in the Categories box on the right of the Add or Edit Post screen.  If you like, you can also include the post as a News item to be displayed on your site for public viewing.
  • Once you have Published the post in the proper category(ies), MailPoet will queue it up for inclusion in the next Newsletter and send the emails out at the designated time which is typically during the not-busy overnight hours.

You may change the default look and feel of the newsletter by going to MailPoet ==> Newsletters and choosing the newsletter you would like to modify.  You may also duplicate an existing newsletter and set it up to go to a different subscriber list or source a different Post Category.

Summary:  There is a default system in place for you to send out newsletters from your website.  How you use it is customizable and can be duplicated for multiple uses.  If you have any questions, or need help with modifications, please drop an email