2.7. Using Email Lists
Although they may seem a little old-fashioned, email lists can be a great mechanism for increasing interest in your web sites over time. The rise of spam email, and the creation of increasingly stringent spam filters, has made the use of email lists more problematic and something you may want to approach with caution. Although email remains the most widely used Internet application of all, publishing syndication feeds may actually be a better mechanism for broadcasting information when you don't personally know the recipients.
Start by adding only people who have expressed an interest in you or your site to the email list. Make it easy to opt out and unsubscribe.
Your email list will only build valuable traffic for your site to the extent that you build it up yourself.
Each email you broadcast to your list should provide value. If you send out vacuous pieces of sales puffery in your email, at best your recipients will hit the delete button or add you to their spam filter. (They may also send you nasty emails back, and in any case they won't be inspired to visit your site, the point of the operation.)
The best format is a newsletter. There are quite a few email newsletters that have great content, include links back to the publishing web site, and even make a little money with sponsored ads in the email newsletter themselves. A good example of this kind of newsletter is Tara Calishain's ResearchBuzz , which provides great information about research and the Internet (you can sign up at http://www.researchbuzz.com), and I'm certain drives well-deserved traffic to Tara's site.
You don't need much in the way of tools to send out email newsletters periodically. Just use your email client software of choice, making sure to blank copy (bcc) senders so email addresses don't show (and you're not invading anyone's privacy). You can copy and paste your list of bcc recipients so you don't have to reenter it each time.
2.7.2. List Administration
Once you've got more than 40 or 50 email addresses on your list, list administration becomes a challenge. You can install software on your web server to manage your email listPHPList, available for free from http://tincan.co.uk/phplist is a good choiceor you can outsource your email management .
If your email newsletters take on a life of their own and you are not comfortable installing your own management software, an email outsourcer like Constant Contact , http://www.constantcontact.com, provides a raft of features for about $15.00 per month. Besides basic email management, an outfit like Constant Contact can provide some important functionality, including: