E-mail Diva: Reaching Out To Old Opt-Ins

Dear E-mail Diva,

We make a popular Password Manager program called RoboForm. We have been collecting e-mail addresses for years when users register their software. We have never, to date, sent even ONE e-mail, so my question is regarding our very first e-mailing to this list. We do not want to be accused of spamming by end users, nor blacklisted by our ISP. The first e-mail will explain how/why users are on our list, and give them the opportunity to opt-in/opt-out.

Because some users registered years ago, there will likely be some accusations of spam by those who forgot they registered. My question is, is there a third-party service I can give the initial list to, to do that first mailing and clean our list?

Andrew Finkle, Vice President-Business Development, Siber Systems

Dear Andrew,

The great thing about being the E-mail Diva is that you get to meet a lot of smart people who know things you don't. I reached out to Sarah Barber at Yesmail for help with your question.



The short answer is "yes," companies like Yesmail will send your first mailing for you. If you had a small list of a few hundred or a B-to-B list, it would be unlikely to cause you any ISP problems, but, as you say, it is a very popular program, so we assume it is a large file.

The company begins by running your file through data hygiene to identify malformed addresses, e.g., ones that do not have an "@." They will return those already deemed undeliverable back to you so you can try other methods, such as postal mail, to reach them. Yesmail would not recommend an eCOA (E-mail Change of Address) service for your first mailing, as customers who haven't heard from you in years may feel "stalked." Better to reestablish contact before considering this hygiene step.

You will need to be careful about how you approach your customers in your first few e-mails. Do not try to get lucky on your first date by trying to make a sale. Instead, thank readers for trying your product, offer a customer service number or e-mail address for problems, and offer something of value--a digital freebie, anti-phishing white paper, or something else that is desirable to the consumer and in harmony with your brand. Due to the trust issue, it would be a good idea to include the awards and testimonials featured on your Web site.

Next, describe the e-mail program you intend to send. Don't forget the E-mail Diva's favorite acronym: WIIFM--What's In It For Me?--the question on every reader's highly skeptical, information overloaded mind. Yes, of course you want to sell them an upgrade or your newest product, but why should they opt-in to continue reading your e-mail? What you offer for the future should combine value and your marketing message in an 80/20 proportion.

Finally, for the opt-in, do not request any additional personal information--just a "yes" or "no." You can ask for more later, when you have reestablished trust.

Good luck!

The E-mail Diva

Send your question to the E-mail Diva at All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.

The E-mail Diva is Melinda Krueger, principal of Krueger Direct/Interactive,

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