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Managing Subscriptions

When sending anything via email these days, it's easy to be accused of spamming—even if the recipient has actually asked for email material. The following tips can help your organization to avoid getting a reputation as a spammer:

  • Send an email message when a visitor subscribes, welcoming the new subscriber and indicating what he or she has subscribed to.

  • Ask the new subscriber to confirm the subscription by replying to the welcome message.

  • Provide subscribe and unsubscribe information in any email newsletter you send.

  • Post your privacy policy, and direct readers at the end of your email to the privacy policy page on your site for details.

The registration process should include these elements:

  • Registration page. At a minimum, you need a web page where people can register to receive your email newsletter. This is much better than just having visitors send an email message to subscribe (especially if you have to manually add the sender's info to your database). You're able to collect a bit more information with a dedicated page, and it goes directly into the database.

  • Subscription management process. A step up from just a registration page, the subscription management process allows the subscriber to change personal information, unsubscribe, change format (text to HTML), and so on. If you have more than one email newsletter, cross-sell them by including opt-ins for all your newsletters on this page. Many services now offer this feature, and it's a real benefit for visitors and for the organization.

  • Confirmation messages. Choose a program that sends an autoreply when a subscriber is added to your list. Most programs do this, and it's good email etiquette. This message is not only an opportunity to convey a welcome; it also gives recipients a message to file and reference if they ever want to unsubscribe, contact your organization, and so forth.

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