Every time I do an update to one of the ebooks I publish I run smack into the fact that a big percentage of ebook purchasers are not in control of their email. In my business book I have a whole chapter on how to get control of your email because it's hard to be successful at a business like real estate photography that is so online intensive without being control of your email. Disciplined use of email accounts is a huge factor in your being successful. When I have trouble giving away free stuff to over 30% of ebook purchasers there is a problem!
Here's what I mean by being in control of your email:
- Have a stable email address: Don't just walk a way from email addresses. If you change addresses or have several addresses you've used in the past make sure all of the addresses you have ever had are all read by one email reader. This is not difficult. Services like Gmail allow you to do this very easily. You can even read your AOL email in Gmail. You can read up to 5 POP3 accounts from Gmail including AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail, other webmail or POP3 email servers.
- Be in control of your own SPAM filtering: That is, filter SPAM in a way that you can verify it's working like you think it is. Be aware that many email hosting services (like AOL, Comcast and others) do automatic SPAM filtering before your email reader ever gets it's hands on the email. These services are deciding what's SPAM and what isn't. Sometime they are right and sometimes they are not. This is a major reason to avoid these services. So, where possible, set the parameters on all your email hosts to NOT do any SPAM filtering and then use a service like Gmail to do the SPAM filtering. It works beautifully, and you can "train" it to filter what you want.
- Don't depend on an email reader (like Outlook or Apple Mail) that is physically tied to a single computer: If you do, it guarantees you will have a disaster sometime soon. If you use Outlook or Apple Mail use the IMAP setup in your email reader to allow access to your mail server from multiple computers and see the same mail at every computer. IMAP allows you to see the same email on your SmartPhone, your Laptop, your desktop and an Internet Cafe in Nairobi.
- Brand your email with your own domain: To look professional you want people to see your email coming from email@example.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org. Your email is just another part of your brand. It is very easy to have a mail server at the domain of your choice. It's also easy to setup your Gmail account to read mail from that server and send mail so it appears to come from your branded domain.
To me, a key component accomplishing all of these is Gmail. It has everything you need to setup and follow all of these principles. Gmail isn't the only way to do this but this is one of Googles core competencies. There are many other approaches that will work. But Gmail is free, and Gmail is remarkably good at SPAM filtering. So good that I'd go so far as to say there is nothing that touches it for SPAM filtering and SPAM filtering may be the most important of these principles. Also, I have every online receipt from everything I've purchased online since I started using Gmail in 2006. And we now know that the NSA also has access to all this! But Google in in the process of encrypting the whole bloody product to keep the NSA out.