I was talking with a pastor a few weeks ago that had his hands in his hair. After months of carefully crafting regular newsletter emails, and sending them to his flock, he realized that almost none of his flock is receiving the newsletters. “How could it be possible that up to 80% of my newsletters disappeared” he lamented “this newsletter thing is not working”.

I asked a few questions and soon realized that my new friend made all the wrong moves in sending his newsletters. The problem with making errors I guess, is that they come so natural.

In space, nobody can hear a newsletter scream.

When moving from your well designed and crafty worded website to the next frontier of internet communication, the humble newsletter, you need to realize that you are in completely new territory, and there is a whole set of skills that you will need to either acquire or outsource.

The difference between sending a newsletter and creating a website, is that with a website you have full control over the environment that you create. You and your host have the advantage of flipping switches on your site till everyone is satisfied with the results. Errors can be seen, or logged in error reports, and ticked off one by one.

Newsletters on the other hand, fail in environments that you have little control over. The worst yet is that when a newsletter fails it will not always give you feedback that it failed, leaving you to believe that everything went according to plan when it did not.

Who exactly are delivering your emails?

This one is not a trick question, or a product bashing question, because there is only two answers – “Me” or “them”. You will answer “them” if you use a third party solution like Mailchimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, Get response, Emma or any of the plethora of email service providers all over the world. Your answer will be “Me” if you installed a program or extension on your server or CMS to automate the process for yourself and give you total control over this process.

If You answered “them” it is your work call your provider out on your social media channel if they dare not deliver your emails as they promised. The beauty of it is that someone already called them out before you, and the chance it that they were frightened by the repercussions of their “poor offering” and fixed the bugs in their system.

If you answered “ME” there’s really nobody to scream at. There’s just you left to plug the holes.

Lets specify the Bottlenecks

Host sending Limits

Your web host limits the amount of emails that can be sent through their services to protect their servers from someone trying to email half of the USA in one go and clogging up a whole data center. This limits can be as little as 40 per hour if you host with Godaddy and can go up to 1000 per hour if you host with someone like Synthesis.

The result of you stepping over the limit depends on the provider, but in most cases there is no feedback to let you know that you stepped over the limit, emails will just fall off, and never reach their target.

SPF RECORDS

Sender Policy framework is a simple email validation system designed to detect email spoofing and ensure that emails are sent from authorized channels.

Email spoofing is the creation of emails with a forged sender address. Used by worms and spammers, this is a serious threat because of the misleading value of the sender address.

Not having your spf records set properly, result your emails in being classified as spam in your recipient email boxes. Remember that 80% – 90% of mail on the internet is indeed spam.

Configuring reverse DNS entries

Many email servers are configured to reject incoming emails from any IP address which does not have reverse DNS entries set up. Again having this not set up properly could result in all your hard work being sent straight to the recipients spam box where it will be buried forever.

The list goes on and on

I do not want to bore you with an ongoing list of things that can go south for you, and believe me I can continue with acronyms for at least another hour, but what I want to get at is that the technical side behind sending a newsletter can be a minefield.

Do you really want to soldier on, bravely making mistakes and fixing them as you go along?

Choose your provider wisely.

One of the reasons that churches will buy a program or CMS plugin to assist with their newsletter campaigns is to have the benefit of a one time cost, and saving on monthly recurring fees.

I’m a member of a small church and understand the pain of getting a budget to balance, but can also see the benefits reaped in showing a professional and polished image to the world.

The bottom line is that using your own software and hosting configuration to send newsletters is not where the smart money is at.

Geting started with a service like Mailchimp will allow you unlimited access to their services and allow yo to send up to 12000 emails to up to 2000 recipients. And that at no cost.

Rethink your provider strategy today and reap the benefits of a newsletter service that will deliver your message without fail.