Options for newsletters (mailing lists)

Options for newsletters (mailing lists)

Newsletters are a great way to communicate with the public, but because of the way that ISPs (internet service providers) handle spam, it is a good idea to use a 3rd party tool rather than maintain a bunch of email addresses on your own.

Highly reputable services

There are a handful of highly reputable mailing list services on the market, and it would be worth researching them or trying their free trial to see which interface you like. The three that we are most familiar and comfortable with are: 

This is not an endorsement of any of these three services, simply a reference to the ones we know and that do a good job following legal guidelines.

Include subscription options on your home page

If you use a 3rd party tool, they should provide Embed Code options that you can use to put a subscription for directly on your MyLO site. Review the Embedding 3rd Party Code documentation for more information.

Direct links to help documentation from the services above for creating embed code:

Avoid being gray or black-listed (as a spammer)

Once an ISP flags you as a potential spammer, it is very, very difficult to be unflagged. If this happens, your emails will not be reaching your audience, and you may not even know about it. A good 3rd party service such as MailChimp or Constant Contact will offer a "health check" where you can monitor if you are heading towards being flagged as a potential spammer, and you will want to keep your eye on that. Here is a great resource that gives you more information about spam laws and best practices.

  • Do not send too many emails in one batch. Most reputable mailing list services will automatically throttle your messages (meaning, send them in smaller batches of 100 or so at a time) in order to help you avoid being flagged. If your service doesn't do this automatically, talk with them about doing it for your emails. 
  • Provide an unsubscribe link on your emails (usually in the footer). You are legally obligated to provide this and can be fined for violation.
  • Avoid subject lines that include $, !, capitalizing every word, or using all uppercase. 
  • Include a physical mailing address in the footer of your email. You are legally obligated to provide this and can be fined for violation.
  • Don't send emails too often. Once or twice a month, and then on very special occasions.
  • Do not subscribe anyone to your list without them in some way agreeing to it, such as by giving you their email address.

What about PDFs?

While you technically can use PDFs, and all of the resources for posting PDFs are available to you through MyLO, it is best to use HTML emails to send your newsletters rather than rely on PDFs. PDFs are not accessible, they are not mobile friendly, they are difficult to share on social media, and they are very restrictive as content delivery mechanism. 

Think of your content as data that you want to deliver to as many types of devices and users as possible. For this reason, you want your data to be flexible, accessible, and easily transferrable.

Most email services offer a "View in browser" link that can be posted on your website instead of the PDF.

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