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Communicating with Subscribers - Newsletter Subscriptions

Article by: Darren Griffin
Date: 17 Sep 2009

pocketgpsworld.comAlthough for many of you, forums are something you are familiar with and use regularly, for many others they are not. We have many tens of thousands of subscribers and a large proportion have never posted in the forums, don't subscribe to our Newsletter and rarely visit the web site other than to download the database.

This presents us with a communication issue. If we have information on database errors, mistakes that require a re-install of the database or subscription notices such as the recent reminders about recurring payments we broadcast them on the web site and in the Newsletter. All fine and dandy for you who read the forums and receive the Newsletter.

But for those who don't they remain blissfully unaware. So we are thinking of automatically adding subscribers to the distribution list when they join. We will make this clear at subscription and as always, they can opt out if they wish, but this will resolve the communication issue for many.
Conscious of the issues surrounding unsolicited emails, do those of you reading this think this would be acceptable?

Posted by BigPerk on Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:16 pm Reply with quote

Will the 'opt-out' be a tickable box on the subscription screen (OR, you could have an opt-IN box instead)? If so then I don't think any subsequent emails would be classed as unsolicited. There would also be presumably a subsequent opt-out method for opting-in subscribers who change their minds later.

A note of the reasons for opting-in, as you have outlined in your post, would presumably also be given with the box?

(Navigon 70 Live, Nuvi 360)

Posted by Darren on Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:41 pm Reply with quote

We're looking into the technicalities of it at the moment, the point is we want as many subscribers to be IN as possible as there is news that is of importance to them.

But yes I'd envisage an Opt-Out box on the subscription page and as with every Newsletter they will still be able to un-subscribe as normal.

It's hard to gauge support as the very segment whose opinion we want to solicit are the ones who won't be reading this Confused

Darren Griffin - Editor

Posted by M8TJT on Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:53 pm Reply with quote

I would not have a problem with this, providing that it was brought to my attention the value of receiving the newsletter, and an OPT OUT box to check if I didn't want one.

Posted by BigPerk on Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:07 pm Reply with quote

rarely visit the web site other than to download the database.
If you put an opt-in plus explanation in the camera download page, all your silent downloaders would hopefully see it the next time they DO visit.

(Navigon 70 Live, Nuvi 360)

Posted by PaulB2005 on Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:49 pm Reply with quote

I'll be honest opt-in / opt-out some people will still download the database and not read the mailing anyway.

I'd give people the option of opting out of the Newsletter but also have a "Service Alert" email and don't give people the option to opt out. Messages need only be sent when it's really needed. Maybe filter them according to their download history (i.e. non-TomTom database users don't need TomTom Service Alerts).

In theory there shouldn't be a need to send "Service Alerts" ever, but they may occur once in a while.

So the newsletter would be opt out, but important information such as subscriptions and database errors have no option to opt out.

Or if you have to give people the option to opt out have both as Opt Out....

Or you could make it part of the T&C to receive the "Service Alerts" as these are important to the running of the subscribers device etc - bit like when you get recalls from the garage about your car etc....

(PS I've had a week of poor sleep so if the above is gibberish - shout)

Posted by GerryC on Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:05 pm Reply with quote

What Paul said. Laughing

Things like bad database alerts should be separate to the scheduled newsletter. If it can be limited to those who downloaded a set which needs re-downloading etc, that would be better. It wouldn't be necessary for opt-in/out - just send it when it's required. Change the T&Cs if necessary.

In my opinion, the newsletter should be opt-in as it's just an alternative to reading the homepage and forums. Important info would get lost as it's expected to contain industry news and site news.

Cameralert for Android
Brodit ProClip mount

Posted by classy56 on Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:18 pm Reply with quote

Perhaps you could leave the weekly newsletter as it is, but have a 'breaking news' email for everyone, this would be for all announcements that affect these people you are seeking, so to speak, and they get it wether they like it or not as part as the T&Cs, it will only be once in a blue moon, so it will hardly have their spam filters overheating Wink

Tomtom Go730T
App 8.300
Map v815.2003

To old to die young.

Posted by Darren on Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:19 pm Reply with quote

All fair comments.

The issues we have are two-fold. If we were to use the member database to send out service emails then we have an issue both with the number of emails necessary and the risk that our domain gets flagged as a mass emailer or spam source.

The Newsletter uses a commercial mass email service, Constant Contact. They are set up to avoid the issues with spam etc and mange opt-outs but as it only contains the email addresses of opt-in's and those that receive it are a mix of subscribers and non-subscribers it doesn't solve the main issue.

Ideally we would use that service for specific service issue emails targeted at subscribers only but of course, currently it does not contain the details of every subscriber so it's a chicken and egg situation!

I take on board the point about the Newsletter being for news and site stuff and that it ought not to be polluted with other admin and other stuff though so clearly we need to give this idea some more detailed thought.

What I can't quite grasp though is why someone who has chosen to subscribe to our database would object to receiving our Newsletter every week? They have a vested interest in our news and I am a member of other services where a regular email is obligatory. Perhaps regular visitors may think it superfluous (as it possibly is) but for the silent majority who don't it is our only practical route to communicate with them?

Darren Griffin - Editor

Posted by JockTamsonsBairn on Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:59 pm Reply with quote


Can you change the list that Constant Contact use, for one month? Or get them to do a special mailing? If so, use either the full list or the full list MINUS those who get the newsletter (and put the same info in the newsletter).

Send a message saying that this is a one-off message explaining the situation and ask them to subscribe to the Alerts. Make them aware of how useful the newsletter is. I think some of them, who as you say are forum "virgins", miss either the opportunity to subscribe or don't understand what it is.

Change the T&Cs, for new subscribers forcing them to take the Alerts?


TomTom Go 940 LIVE (9.510, Europe v915.5074 on SD & 8.371, WCE v875.3613 on board)

Posted by BigPerk on Thu Sep 17, 2009 5:17 pm Reply with quote

I'm not too keen on 'forcing' people to take alerts or (particularly) newsletters. Alerts are for their benefit and they should be able to decide not to take them at their own risk.

The weekly Newsletters would be extremely irritating for those who are clearly not interested in hearing anything about the site's activities - I know I would be quite tempted to drop a site where I was getting 'deluged' with what in such circumstances would be regarded as pretty 'junky', or at least auto re-direct to the Junk folder, which would defeat the object of the whole exercise.Cool

So I say let them SEE the opportunity (with a nice big notice, in red, flashing, or whatever,) and then let them choose to sign-up or be damned Twisted Evil !

(Navigon 70 Live, Nuvi 360)

Posted by Darren on Thu Sep 17, 2009 5:32 pm Reply with quote

One email a week is hardly a deluge but I take your point. The issue we have though is people are claiming ignorance of issues that we have shouted from the roof tops on the site.

We know from experience that users don't read stuff on the download page, they arrive with blinkers on and see only what they choose to. Even if there were room for an announcement area (there isn't) I don't think an alert on the download page is the answer.

I suspect we will have to slowly add users email addresses to the Mass Mailer system with a suitable note in the Ts & Cs as they subscribe or renew.

That way we can then send the service emails as and when necessary. These would perhaps be less than two or three times per year.

It will only resolve the issue long term but that is better than doing nothing.

Darren Griffin - Editor

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