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How to E-Mail to Your List of Interested People

© 2002 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

When you're ready to send e-mail to a group of people to promote your book or your business, you want to maximize the likelihood that people will read that e-mail. You must confirm that you're not spamming and you must confirm that your e-mail does not look like spam.

Why? Because we are bombarded with spam, we are sorting our e-mails faster than before, and we are quicker to throw out any unexpected e-mail. Some of us are getting downright angry and reporting spammers to their access providers. That is, when I receive a spam from, I forward the spam to, and Earthlink cancels the spammer's e-mail account. For a recipient of spam, this quick response is very satisfying. For those of us who want to send e-mail to a group of people, we must be sure to avoid any negative response leading to a loss of our e-mail or Web site account.

We want to never actually BE a spammer, and we want to avoid the possibility that anyone might THINK we are spamming.

How to Avoid Being a Spammer

The best way to avoid being a spammer is to send e-mails only to people who have agreed to receive e-mail from you. For example, all subscribers to SPAWNews have filled out the little subscription form. An author may have an online form where people can sign up to hear about the latest book. An artist may have a form where people can sign up to hear about the next gallery show. In each of these examples, the Web site or signup card must state clearly that the visitor is signing up for periodic or occasional e-mailed information.

To avoid being spammers, we never buy a list or pick up e-mail addresses from Web sites. We gather a list of people who are giving us permission to e-mail them.

How to Avoid Being Considered a Spammer

There are several important steps to take when you want to avoid looking like a spammer:

  1. Identify yourself. Be sure that the return address includes your name and/or company name
  2. Tell the recipient why he is receiving the e-mail. That's one reason why every SPAWNews has an opening message from me. That message tells everyone why the e-mail has arrived.
  3. Tell the recipient how to get off the list and make sure that you pay attention to the removal requests.
  4. Use proper Netiquette: never show all the e-mail addresses in the TO field or the CC field. (Yes, sometimes we want to show all recipient addresses when mailing to family or a small group working on a project. That helps everyone to see who else has received the information. But mailing to our permission-based mailing list is completely different.) When mailing to our list, it is a violation of the privacy of every person on the list if we distribute the e-mail addresses to the list. We must not violate the privacy of list members. We have an obligation to protect the privacy of those who have agreed to receive our mailings.
    There are many ways to protect the privacy of the list without the chore of creating and sending the e-mails one by one:
  • The simplest and least expensive solution is to use your current e-mail software and place your own address in the TO field. Then place the mail list addresses in the BCC field. (That's Blind Carbon Copy. Everyone gets a copy, but no recipient sees the addresses of other recipients.)
  • The more professional and more automated solution is to buy a bulk mailing program. Such programs can send all the e-mails at once without displaying the e-mail addresses. Some bulk mailing programs are free, while others cost thousands of dollars. For Windows, I like GroupMail from GroupMail Pro costs only $79.95, and it allows you to send a batch of e-mail in one quick process.

The key to e-mailing to a group is to treat the group the way you'd like to be treated. Mail only to people who want your news, tell them why they are receiving the e-mail, and guard the e-mail addresses. Go forth and mail!

~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is an Information Architect who publishes both in print and online., or



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