Okay, those of us who use Microsoft Exchange and Outlook to send email probably enjoy most of the features, including managing contacts, integrating our calendars with other Exchange users and Outlook’s ease of use in managing our calendar events and reminders. So why shouldn’t we use Outlook to send our corporate email newsletters and announcements? In this article, I’ll tell you what you’re missing by using Outlook and not using email software or relying on an email service provider.
1. Handling HTML Emails
Outlook can send HTML emails by capturing a webpage, but you do not have any flexibility in what the resulting HTML looks like. For example, if you want to list the contents of your email at the top and use a link to content within the email body, you can’t do this in Outlook because it redirects the person to the page from where you sent the email. This can be a problem, because listing contents or abstracts at the top of your email can be an effective way to capture an audience’s attention quickly.
2. You won’t know who or how many people opened your emails
Unless you have your Exchange administrator develop something proprietary, you will not be able to track who opened your email. Almost every email software package or email service provider provides this functionality, and although this metric can be overrated, it’s extremely useful for tracking your success against your previous newsletters or campaigns. For more information on email marketing metrics check out this previous article.
3. You can’t track what links have been clicked on
Just like number 2, not tracking click-thrus (how many people clicked on a particular link), means you won’t know how successful your content is. Tracking click-thrus and comparing rates to previous newsletters is the best way to measure if your content is successful, which enables you to better tailor your content for your audience.
4. Reporting, what reporting?
I mentioned in number 2 and 3 above how important two key metrics are to determining the success of your emails, and, generally speaking, you won’t have any metrics using Outlook. How can you determine the success of your email if you don’t know anything about what happened after you hit send?
5. You’re forced to use Blind Carbon Copy (BCC)
When you send corporate emails out of Outlook, you have to BCC the list in order to avoid showing everyone who else is in this list. BCCs are impersonal and the person receiving the email can’t see their own name in the “To” field. Should you forget to use Blind Carbon Copy, your email is in violation of CAN-SPAM Act, which could result in fines.
6. You can’t personalize the email
Another issue in sending email newsletters out of Outlook, is the lack of personalization capabilities. Unless you have a programmer capable of creating something custom for your email blasts, you have no way to merge fields in your emails. Your emails end up looking generic and not individualized. Statistically speaking, personalized emails lead to better results. Also, if you did have a developer build something for Outlook to provide mail merges with your lists, it would probably tie up your computer or email client and would prevent you from reading or sending your personal email while the email blast was sending to your audience.
7. You’ll spend time managing the list
Should you choose to manage email newsletters on your own and send through Outlook, you need to provide a way for users to opt-out of your list. Most people using Outlook are forced to manage these lists through files or email groups. When a recipient indicates they want off the list, someone must manually remove them. In addition to the fact that managing these lists ends up taking a person’s time, a failure to timely remove someone from a list can cause problems with CAN-SPAM compliance and upset someone who already has indicated they do not wish to receive your newsletters. All reputable email software providers and email service providers provide an automated way of handling this process.
8. You have to make sure your email isn’t illegal
The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 requires commercial email senders (including companies communicating with their own lists) to provide information and options to the recipient of the email. These requirements include (among other things):
- Providing the company name and mailing address on the email
- Providing an easy-to-use mechanism for opting-out of the email list
Failure to follow any of these items can lead to fines up to $11,000 per violation. Again, all reputable email software providers and email service providers provide built-in mechanisms for forcing compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act.
9. Your email account (or entire domain) could be blacklisted
Sending email newsletters using Outlook also can carry the risk of your company’s emails being ‘blacklisted’. If a person receiving your emails thinks the email is SPAM, they can report this email to an administrator who may add you to a ‘blacklist’, thereby flagging all emails from your domain as SPAM. This would cause any individual email from you to your customers to be at risk. Email Service Providers constantly monitor these blacklists and contact other ISPs to add their accounts to ‘white lists’ which allow them to get through to the recipients without concern of spam filters.
10. Your emails may not be delivered
The tenth reason you should not use Outlook to send corporate email announcements or newsletters, is that the emails may not get there. Because of blacklists, CAN-SPAM, problems with the HTML in your newsletter you created and a host of other reasons, you are better off using email software or email service providers that have procedures in place to ensure your email is delivered. The goal of sending these emails, after all, is to communicate information about your company to your customers, prospects and leads, and this is impossible if they never see the email.
Outlook’s great for sending emails to your customers, prospects, co-workers and friends. A lot of people use it as a way to start sending corporate announcements or newsletters and quickly (hopefully) learn from the pitfalls mentioned above. You are better off choosing to either outsource your email communications or use software to manage the process.