Moving Your Newsletter

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If you’ve had your email newsletter running for a while, you may find that it’s time to change newsletter service providers. Perhaps the quality of your email newsletter service has declined since you originally signed up. Your needs may have changed as you’ve grown your mailing list and gotten more involved in email marketing. Or, you may have just realized that your newsletter service is not the best fit for your business’s needs.

Whatever the reason, you’ve decided that it’s time to pack up your mailing list and newsletter template and relocate. But, just like moving house, moving your mailing list is a big task, and you’ll want to make sure that you go through all of the steps in this Newsletter Moving Checklist before you make the switch.

Newsletter Moving Checklist

1. Research Your New Provider. In other words, find your newsletter a new home. Things to consider in this stage include:

  • Deliverability: This is the likelihood that your newsletter will get to your subscribers. You want to use a provider with good deliverability statistics, and who does not work with spammers. Make sure they are not blacklisted from any major email receiving services. You should check out your new service’s rating on Interface: Check out the user interface to see how easy it is to navigate and use, how complicated it will be to send out your newsletter, and whether the interface has all of the tools you need to easily manage your newsletter. See if your new provider has a free trial, or at least some videos or screen shots to review.
  • Functionality: Make sure the service does all you need it to and that it does everything that you can forsee needing in the next few years, so that you don’t have to move again soon.
  • Cost: The pricing model for a newsletter service is usually based on the number of subscribers you have or on the number of emails you send out. Whatever the model, make sure the cost of the new solution is reasonable and sustainable for your business.
  • Subscriber Migration: Some services allow you to import your list directly into the service, and to start sending out emails immediately. Others allow you to import, but then require that the subscribers opt in to receive emails from the new service. It may seem like the direct import is the way to go, but you can often get better deliverability rates from services that require your subscribers to opt in again. The reason for this is that people are less likely to complain about your newsletter being spam if you have them reconfirm — which means that you’ll be blacklisted on fewer email receiving services.

2. Sign Up and Set Up. Like buying a house or signing a lease before you move in, there are a few things you need to do to set up house with your new provider. Each newsletter service provider’s set up requirements will be a bit different. To see what yours are, check for a Getting Started type of page on their website.

At the very least, you’ll have to set up your mailing list, unsubscribe message, and the “Thank You For Subscribing” page that people are forwarded to when they sign up. If your newsletter requires double opt-in, you’ll also have to set up the opt in message.

3. Notify Your Subscribers. This is like letting your friends and relatives know that you’ll be moving. You don’t want to alienate your subscribers by suddenly asking them to re-subscribe to your newsletter without any warning. And, you don’t want to move them over to the new service yourself, only to have them notice that things are different, because then you can lose their trust.

Luckily, this step is easy to do. Just put a few lines about the upcoming move in the header of your next newsletter or two. Explain that you’re moving, and what they can expect. This should make the transition smoother for everyone.

4. Pack Up. Pack your newsletter template and your newsletter subscriber list and go.

Download the latest version of your template from your current provider. If they don’t make how to do this obvious, look up how to do it in the help files. Make sure you also take your recurring images, such as your header image and head shot, with you.

And, export your newsletter subscriber list. Make sure that you can open the file and view the emails, and that the file you’ve exported isn’t corrupted. You may also want to burn the list at this time to CD or back it up in some other way.

5. Set Up Your Template and Your List. You’ll want to first set up your newsletter template in the new service. To do this, find the HTML code view in your new service and paste the version that you downloaded into that. You may also have to upload your images to your new newsletter service, or to your website. This will make it necessary to change the links to your images in your newsletter template. Then, test the new newsletter by formatting it and sending it to yourself to make sure that it’s imported correctly.

Next, follow your services’ instructions to import your list (if your new service allows that). Before you do this, you’ll want to make sure that your opt-in message is fully set up and working perfectly, because it is likely that upon import, your subscribers will get that message.

6. Make The Big Move. You may want to do this step right after you’ve sent out a newsletter using your old service, so that you have as much time as possible to get the new service working correctly, and to iron out any kinks, before you have to get the next issue out.

The main thing you have to do in this step is to create your newsletter sign-up box and place it on your website (and on any other websites or blogs it may appear on) so that new subscribers sign up with your new service instead of the old one. Be sure to thoroughly test this to make sure it’s working properly.

Also, don’t close your original account in this step. You’ll need it in the next stage of the process.

7. Send Out Your Next Newsletter (or Two) On Both Services. This is like the equivalent of forwarding your mail. It helps you to make sure that you’re getting the new issues out to the people who have moved over quickly, and that you’re not losing the slower adopters because they missed an email or just haven’t clicked on the confirmation yet.

In your old service, note that if people are receiving the newsletter twice, it’s because you’re sending it out just this once (or twice). And, also include a note that says if they’re not getting it twice, that’s because they haven’t confirmed their subscription in the new service and what to do about it.

If you follow these 7 steps from the checklist, moving your newsletter should be a breeze. And, you should be able to bring many of your subscribers along with you to your new location.

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