Guess What? You’re in Charge of E-Mail Operations!

We bid my predecessor Edward Grossman goodbye and heartfelt good luck in his new job in the print magazine world. We’ll miss his insightful column and unflappable attitude toward getting the job done. Who knows? Maybe he’ll miss us enough to show up at ClickZ E-Mail Strategies in May.

Edward is a tough act to follow. Not only in writing this column, but also in my other role: managing the corporate newsletter and email production team. One way I intend to educate myself for this new role is through this column.

How, you ask?

I’m guessing a bunch of people out there are in the same position I am; people who woke up one morning and found themselves managing an email operation. Maybe your boss decided email marketing was exactly what your organization needed and tapped you to do the job. Maybe your company newsletter has grown to gargantuan proportions.

Like me, you’re hardly clueless. You have a solid background in marketing, technology, or production. But suddenly, those Talking Heads lyrics go through your head: “And you may ask yourself– Well… How did I get here?”

I’m lucky — Edward was kind enough to stick around for several weeks and show me the ropes. And I’m fortunate to have a professional, knowledgeable team handling execution of the group’s daily responsibilities. But I still have a way to go.

Case in point: my first newsletter acquisition project. Our company recently purchased a Web site property with a companion double-opt-in newsletter. The plan was to combine the editorial of this acquired newsletter with one of our existing newsletters. The content is a direct match. Our standard practice in these situations is to send an email notification to the acquired subscribers explaining the change in ownership and the combining of newsletters. Of course, the message includes very clear unsubscribe instructions.

Following this first mailing, we received very little negative feedback and a few unsubscribes (less than 1 percent). We had approximately two spam complaints. These were addressed immediately and resolved with the individuals.

After a full week of waiting for any additional subscriber feedback, we merged this subscriber list with the existing one and mailed the first newsletter. Lo and behold — 10 SpamCop reports! (An unheard-of number for us.) I’m still working through these complaints, but I’m making good headway (one by one, the complaints are being rescinded).

In retrospect, perhaps we should have included an additional notification in the current newsletter to those acquired subs, reminding them of the change. I’m not certain how much difference it would have made. A frustrating experience. We pride ourselves on adhering to a scrupulous double-opt-in policy that Julian Haight, SpamCop’s founder, fully sanctions.

This is hardly the last time we’ll acquire a newsletter or need to manage a new list. I’d love to hear from any readers who have dealt with a similar issue, perhaps through a merger or an acquisition. What worked? What would you do differently next time? I want to get those complaints down to zero! (OK, even I am not that naive.)

Whether you’re an old pro or a newbie, there are plenty of email questions and issues. There’s no academic curriculum, no degree, no one manual telling us all we need to know. Our best opportunity to learn is through an exchange of ideas, wisdom, and war stories.

If you’re newly hands-on, as I am, you face new challenges every day. Even those of you who’ve been involved in email for quite some time face an ever-changing landscape. Your insight and questions will help make the road a smoother one. Share the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Let’s face it, somehow we all ended up in e-newsletter publishing. Way I see it, the only way I’m going to learn is by living this day to day — and from all you folks. Although my name is at the top of the page, I’d like to incorporate the ideas and possible solutions from this community. Let’s see if we can help one another out!

Got an opinion, a question, a column idea? Let me know!

Meet Kendra at ClickZ E-Mail Strategies in New York City on May 19 and 20.

Related reading