Mass Mailing After Extended Delay
September 11, 2019 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Several thousand people proactively signed up for our (ultra) low-volume mailing list many years ago and we're finally ready to send an update. The plan is to verify/clean the list via Neverbounce or emaillistverify, then send a couple hundred per day via Gmail (we've heard that mail from Constant Contact and MailChimp these days goes straight to "Promotions" tab on Gmail or "Other" tab in Outlook). Make sense? Or can we do better?
posted by Quisp Lover to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Suppose your users have made choices (in terms of MUA or configuration of same) that mean bulk mailings go somewhere where they're less visible, lower-priority and/or more likely to be discarded unread.

Are you really asking how to send a mass mailing in a way that subverts those choices? (Yes, your users proactively opted in to your mailing list. They also proactively chose a mail reading solution that dumpsters mass email.)

Suppose you trick a user into reading something they wouldn't otherwise read by making them think a one-to-many email is actually a one-to-one email. Do you think that user is going to react positively to your message? Will they, literally or metaphorically, buy what you're selling?

"Better" here means send the mass email as a mass email, then respect your users' choices -- even when those choices include not reading your email.
posted by sourcequench at 9:02 AM on September 11, 2019 [11 favorites]

I second what sourcequench says. The annoyance of receiving an email in my main inbox that I might not even remember signing up for (you say it was some years ago) would make me instantly mark it as spam and delete it, even if I were otherwise interested in the update.
posted by tavegyl at 9:14 AM on September 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Remember that even if you send by Gmail you'll need to follow CAN-SPAM rules (including a physical address & instructions on how to unsubscribe), which will almost certainly get you filtered to the Promotions tab anyway (because Google isn't dumb and they've seen this trick before), so you'll just be causing a headache for yourself for no reason. Just use the tools designed for marketing when sending out your marketing email.
posted by brainmouse at 9:18 AM on September 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Is it really that implausible that the folks who signed up still genuinely want to see the update and would be disappointed to miss it? I personally feel like I'm stuck with, rather than having chosen, Gmail's current classification system, and it does indeed occasionally lead to me missing something I want but didn't know to expect at a certain time.

I think that, ideally, you'd have another way of reaching out to people to let them know to look for the update (social media, a postcard in the physical mail even). Or you might encourage the folks who do read the e-mail to post something about it to social media to help get word of the existence of your update out there. If your project doesn't have a social media presence, even a very minimal and inactive one, now might be the time to launch that to again help raise the profile of your messaging.
posted by teremala at 9:32 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Echoing Brainmouse. Google isn't dumb, and you aren't the first person to try something like this. Even if it works once, you may run into issues down the line.

The other thing to consider: how will you track metrics with Google? With solutions like MC or CC, you can see who opened your email, clickthrough rates, etc. If you go with Gmail you'll need to buy additional services to make it work.

My suggestion: don't overthink this. Use the tools designed for this problem.
posted by matrixclown at 9:41 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

A year delay is long enough that you'll get some people swearing they never signed up and mashing the Abuse link. This happened to my employer, and enough people complained that we had to grovel to MailChimp not to be shut down.
posted by scruss at 10:47 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is a terrible plan. Submitting email addresses to a 3rd party like Neverbounce without the email address owner's consent is a terrible abuse of trust. It's also illegal under GDPR, regardless of what Emaillistverify says. (Which, by the way, is "we don't hold your data, our vendors do." So they are distributing email addresses to 4th parties. Wonderful.)

Using Gmail doesn't allow subscribers to unsubscribe automatically, either., or force you to comply with US spam laws. I can't think of a less professional presentation for your organisation.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:33 AM on September 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Whatever you were going to communicate to people ‘years ago’ - a lot of people will have forgotten about it, have met their information need in other ways, found alternatives to your organisation or communication or have simply just moved on.

By all means send your message as long as you comply with the requirements for data protection in your jurisdiction. But it seems likely that the residual interest is no longer very high i.e. it won’t matter much if your message gets filtered or not. Your time may be better spent on re-generating interest in your ‘thing’ and building a new list of subscribers to your newsletter.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:41 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

This sounds like a recipe for potential errors, big and small. With MailChimp (or whatever) all addresses will be in one place, they’ll all receive the same correct message, people can unsubscribe, and you’ll have whatever other tools and features MailChimp has developed for doing this single specialised task.

Doing it in bits via Gmail means you lose out on the above features and you’re changing a single action into many more manual actions. Chances are at some point you will accidentally: miss off some of the addresses; send duplicate messages to some addresses; alter the message (accidentally paste something else in, or delete something); cc rather than bcc everyone...

I would not want to be the person responsible for never, ever making a mistake in a fiddly manual task that must be repeated dozens of times.
posted by fabius at 12:45 PM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

(because Google isn't dumb and they've seen this trick before)

This is good advice for anytime you find yourself thinking "Google does a thing, how can I get around that thing?".

Think of this way: Any problem you've run into, people with millions (if not tens, or hundreds, or thousands of millions) of dollars at stake have also run into it. Do you have the resources to come up with a solution that a billion dollar business does not? Maybe, but likely no.
posted by sideshow at 10:31 AM on September 13, 2019

I saw this TechCrunch article just now and thought of this question. Not sure if there's anything there that helps you.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:07 PM on September 15, 2019

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