As a public and media relations company, one of the main and essential tasks of all our account executives was to research and compile lists of targeted media contacts to send press releases and pitches to. The result was to generate interest in our clients products and to secure media placements for them across the various media channels, while establishing and fostering lasting connections with media professionals.
When I came into the company, this mass/bulk mailing was done by compiling and importing contact lists into Microsoft Outlook and then to run a Microsoft Word mail merge pulling the contacts from these Outlook lists. The process was tedious, slow, and the results were often far from acceptable, revealing areas that were in need of improvement.
The proprietary email format generated by Word using a styled and formatted document often created compatibility and readability issues once received. This in turn frustrated our media contacts and decreased the chances that our messages would be well received, denying our clients the attention they were paying for.
The process of compile > import > Word Document > mail merge was slow and tedious. In all, the process of mailing a single large list could take 10 – 20 minutes and tie up the employee’s desktop during this time, leaving little else for them to do to remain productive. A shared station was put in place allowing account executives to send their bulk email pitches without holding up their own desktop in order to return to other tasks. This introduced the need to manage and organize the availability of this station among the business teams, and did nothing to improve the actual efficiency of the process.
The business used other business applications that also connected to or played a part in managing contact information. The problem with this was that they all did it differently. When trying to use these applications with Outlook and Exchange contacts, compatibility issues became a nuisance when importing, exporting and moving this information between the different applications. Mapping data between the applications became a frustrating and error prone task.
As the business began to grow, so did the outcry against SPAM and Commercial Email. The CAN-Spam Act was passed and we were required to maintain compliance or risk any number of consequences. We had already been blacklisted by AOL and flagged by Yahoo for excessive complaints by their members/subscribers. Although both issues were resolved, it served as a warning that non-compliance would hurt our business.
C# Windows application developed for delivering bulk email campaigns.
- CAN-SPAM Act compliant
- Supports list formats from Cision, Outlook, UPS and standard CSV files.
- Error logging
- Activity Logging
- Built-in Do-Not-Mail and Unsubscribe functions.
- Configurable user settings and per-message options for message personalization.
- Multi-part support for plain text and HTML messages
- WYSIWYG HTML Editor with HTML Source view/editing
- Supports Web Email (Google, Yahoo, etc) or Locally Hosted Email
- Support for SSL and Authentication
Even before launch, the concept of the application was well received and greatly anticipated. After implementing the application, however, the reaction was far more positive than anticipated. The tedious and frustrating task of distributing client pitches and press releases was simplified to a few easy steps that could be completed on-demand, from the desktop in a fraction of the time. It eliminated the shared station and the associated conflicts of availability. Accepting a standard CSV text file as the data source for contacts and email recipients eliminated the compatibility issues with data mapping or when exporting from other applications. Delivery of messages was now sent using both the Plain Text email format, and compliant HTML format, eliminating the bloated and broken markup created by MS Word that frustrated so many of our media contacts. In the end, the solution was a tremendous success. It is consideredÂ a critical tool that the account executives have come to depend onÂ improving productivity, effectiveness, compatibility and satisfaction while providing compliance of the CAN-SPAM Act.