A (mostly electronic) regularly appearing circular is called a newsletter [[ njuːzˌlɛtɚ ] (English for newsletters , distribution messages or information letters).
In the original sense, newsletters are issued by churches, clubs, associations and companies in order to inform their members, customers or employees about news. Some newsletters are chargeable and are only sent to subscribers. In companies, they are a modern form of customer magazine . Many e-mails to online customers known as newsletters are in fact purely advertising e-mails with little information content.
Technically related are mailing lists , but each member can also send messages to the distribution list.
Originally, the term referred to a periodic print format of a few pages that summarized news and advice on mostly commercial topics in a very short form. Today it is mainly understood to mean electronic newsletters.
In this form of publication, information (mostly on special topics) is sent more or less regularly to a group of recipients by email or SMS . The data protection regulations must be observed here. The recipients have registered themselves as interested parties in a newsletter list, so the recipient has given their opt-in .
Sending the newsletter is viewed as an outbound technology (newsletter engine), e-mails received for further processing as inbound (e-mail call center function).
Shipping methods and feedback
It can be sent as a pure text version (plain text) and / or in HTML (multipart format). Sending a newsletter as a PDF document attached to an e-mail also happens occasionally. In this case, the sender attaches great importance to the fact that the newsletter sent can be printed without any problems.
The optimization of newsletters for mobile devices is also becoming increasingly important, the use of which is also increasing continuously for checking e-mails. There are special requirements for design and usability, as small touch screens have to be taken into account.
The opening of the e-mails and the click behavior of the readers can be registered and evaluated for statistical purposes. From this, recipient behavior such as number of openings, forwardings, etc. can be seen and the knowledge gained can be used for further newsletters. A combination of newsletters is called a campaign. Newsletters are an excellent direct marketing tool to achieve quick results in the areas of trend analyzes , opinion polls , votes, quizzes, etc.
Programs for sending newsletters
There are a number of programs that enable the management of distribution lists, automatic subscribing and unsubscribing, as well as the convenient creation of newsletters.
There are special engines for newsletters in every price range, from open source and freeware solutions to several hundred thousand euros. It depends on the flexibility of the software solution, i. H. What “intelligence” can it use to compose the e-mails (personalized and themed) and at what speed can the e-mails be produced and sent. Today, high-performance software solutions can put together complex newsletters in a short time, so that even when sending thousands of newsletters, there is no duplication. But database programs for customer data management can also be used with an add-on for sending newsletters. The IT-technical integration into the existing customer relationship management is important .
Freeware variants or versions for private, non-commercial use often have limitations, for example in terms of the number of recipients. However, many open source programs remove this limitation.
A newsletter can also be sent via common mail programs such as Outlook Express or Mozilla Thunderbird . A mail is sent to a distribution list that is managed via the address book. The recipients usually come into the BCC field. With a larger address base, however, this is problematic as addresses that can no longer be reached (bounces) and unsubscriptions have to be sorted out manually. In addition, it is not possible to personalize the mail or evaluate the success of this variant. In addition, the options for sending newsletters via a normal mail account are usually limited with conventional web providers and only offer a limited number of recipients (limit for e-mail copies via CC or BCC).
For the professional newsletter dispatch, companies usually commission special providers who offer the appropriate software. This can be used to conveniently manage distribution lists as well as subscriptions and unsubscriptions, design and personalize newsletter mails, and control and evaluate campaigns. The use of professional e-mail software is usually possible as a software-as-a-service solution (Do-It-Yourself) via a web interface; design, programming, campaign creation and newsletter editing can also be booked separately as services. In addition, a professional provider takes various measures to ensure that the emails sent reach the recipients and do not get stuck in spam filters. In this context, so-called whitelisting is becoming increasingly important. Recently, greylisting and the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) have also become more and more important. However, you should also be careful when choosing external service providers. Because with dubious providers you cannot understand what happens to the e-mail addresses and whether they are not being resold or otherwise being used without authorization.
Tracking and data protection
Using tracking pixels ( counting pixels ) and individualized links in the e-mails sent, the reading behavior of a recipient can be determined, for example whether, when and which links he clicked and when he read the e-mail. If the data is not kept strictly separate from the e-mail address (pseudonymisation), this is personal data. Personal tracking is only permitted with the explicit and clearly informed consent of the recipient. The recipient must be able to revoke this consent at any time. If there is no consent, usage data and email addresses must be strictly separated and the user must be informed about the tracking in advance, for example in the data protection information.
If the tracking is carried out by an external service provider, the customer must conclude a contract for data processing on behalf of the provider .
Despite the General Data Protection Regulation that came into force in May 2018 , the sending of newsletter emails is still permitted without the recipient having to expressly consent to the sending, provided that the provisions of Section 7 (3) UWG are met. No further consent to data collection is required from existing newsletter subscribers. New newsletter subscribers, on the other hand, must be informed about the use of their personal data, for example by referring to the data protection declaration. Another change is the specification of mandatory fields. The new regulation means that only the email address can be declared as a mandatory field. Further personal information such as first name, surname or place of residence may only be provided on a voluntary basis.
Violations of data protection may result in warnings from competitors and fines from supervisory authorities of up to € 300,000.
- Guideline for permitted e-mail marketing 4th edition 2011 (PDF file, 764 kB), eco - Association of the German Internet Industry
- Guideline for permissible email marketing 5th edition 2014 (PDF file, 2.2 MB), eco - Association of the German Internet Industry
- Guideline for permitted email marketing 6th edition 2016 (PDF file, 799 kB), eco - Association of the German Internet Industry
- Newsletter criteria according to GDPR. Retrieved September 21, 2018 .