Email Newsletters: Privacy and Unsubscribing

As you likely know from personal experience, the value of email has been greatly tarnished by spam, unsolicited messages, online junk mail. So, many subscribers and would-be subscribers care very much about the exposure of their email addresses.

Since this issue is so important, articulate a privacy policy for your newsletter. Will you rent, sell, or exchange the names of your subscribers to other organizations or persons? While most of us have no plans to do so when we are small, that opinion can change as we grow our list.

Quite frankly, once your list gets to a certain size, you may be able to earn quite a bit of money by renting it out. Many magazine and subscription publishers find that the difference between a profit and loss is list rental income.

If you do decide to keep the list names strictly to yourself, post a message to that effect somewhere, either in the email newsletter itself, at sites where you collect the names of subscribers, or both. By posting, and adhering to, a privacy policy, you will get more subscribers. To read an example, go my newsletter's web page at .

If you're not sure whether you will or will not sell or rent the addresses, then put a note to that effect instead. Many companies do this by saying something like this: "Would you like to receive information messages by email from our valued partners?" To that, of course, you add a checkbox. The default position should be off, which is to say, subscribers have to click on the box to receive those mailings. And, needless to say, you must then respect the choice they make.

You must also make it quick and easy for subscribers to say good-bye. Each issue of your newsletter should contain information explaining how to unsubscribe or be removed from the mailing list. There are many forms this information can take. To choose one, go through the email newsletters you now receive, and decide which you like best. Then, prepare your own notice, using this one as a guide. Of course, you will not copy anything directly, which would be plagiarism.

On the flip side, add information to each newsletter that explains how to subscribe, and consider, too, putting in a line asking recipients to pass along your newsletter to someone else who would benefit from it. A simple reminder like that could help you build your list, painlessly. Recommendations from a trusted colleague or friend will boost your subscriber list quickly.

Summing up, develop a privacy policy and stick to it. In addition, give your subscribers an escape hatch they can access quickly and easily.

Robert F. Abbott, the author of A Manager's Guide to Newsletters: Communicating for Results, writes and publishes Abbott's Communication Letter. Read more articles about Internet communication, as well as email and printed newsletters at: http://

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