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Janet Roberts

Readers: Blame HTML, Not Lame Ducks
By Janet Roberts

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A recent Ezine-Tip query from a publisher looking to eliminate old or unresponsive names from her mailing list drew plenty of advice from readers, most of whom said HTML caused more problems than nonresponsive readers.

I suggested to Gabriele Meiringer of the Writers Store that she look at other possible reasons that her response rates are falling before removing addresses that appear to be valid but don't produce opens, clicks or sales rates.

(Did you miss that Ezine-Tip? Here it is again: Hunting Down Lame-Duck Readers)

Others were more blunt in their comments. Here are some reactions from Ezine-Tips readers:

Al Fagen of Vance Publishing:

"The tips you gave Gabriele were great and should be checked out. However, if she does all that and still finds expense up and sales down and the only thing they did was go to HTML, then I think she should seriously reevaluate the reasons/decision for going to HTML in the first place.

"I'd suggest she either revert to all text, or at least split the file on an every other name basis, and send half the file HTML and the other half text for at least two issues and track the results. The beauty of direct marketing is the ability to track results - and what better time could there be?

"For anyone thinking about going to HTML from text or vice versa, they should consider testing the concept. There are ways to split test a portion of the file before completely committing to the new strategy.

"(By the way, I'm not for or against either HTML or text - just think we should test whenever possible.)"

Longtime Ezine-Tips reader Maria Marsala, suggested Gabriele use "simple HTML" with color and a single graphic and also recounted her own list-culling experience:

"I also decided that my ezine wasn't bringing in enough revenue to justify the amount of time and effort I spent to create it. I think that over time, the evolution of ezines is that you start them for free, then realize heck, this is a business! Who gives away the store?

"I have done some of what Gabriele's has done to her ezine already - went from a content ezine to providing content and my own ads. Then I went the open a new ezine and told folks to reply if they wanted to be placed on it.

"For two months or so I continued to send out the main edition to the old list and new list. Then after that, for 4 months, I sent a monthly note to just the old list and tried a few different subjects: 'This list is closing,' 'You are being deleted,' 'You are being removed and 'Good-bye.'

"The two subjects people responded to were 'You are being deleted' and 'Good-bye.' HOWEVER, six months after the first note, people are still finding my notices in their free email accounts or spam bins and asking to be reinstated.

"Another thing that may assist Gabriele, once she has her numbers where she wants them, is to create an e-R&D team. It's great to have a bunch of folks - just an email away - who believe in you, your products and who want to help, too."

If you also want to clean out your mailing list -- not a bad idea given the recent SoBig.F worm onslaught -- this message from Gerard of Programs and Scripts might interest you:

"Just read your latest newsletter and thought I'd shamelessly mention a program I wrote :). It arose from the input of many webmasters I know who needed a way to clean their lists of dead emails (users who never click/open) as well as spam traps. It has quite a few features, and works well with Lyris.

Subscriber Tracker

The program costs $99.95 and requires PHP and MySQL.

Next week: Feedback on the "Savage Blogger" Ezine-Tip from last week. Miss it? Here it is again: Beware of 'Savage Bloggers'

Ezine-Tips for September 16, 2003

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