The Trouble with E-Newsletters

Wellness Foods exists to be of service to our readers. The same holds true for the Food Processing website and our e-newsletters. But is that message getting through? Editor David Feder tells why he sometimes feels like Rodney Dangerfield.

By David Feder, RD, Editor

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I hate spam. I love news, though. And, granted, it's often hard to tell which is which on the basis of an incoming e-mail's subject line. Between my home and my work e-mail addresses I receive about 120 messages every day. Of those, at the very most 20 percent of the work e-mails are of any use to my making these magazines and web pages better for you, the readers. (The percentage plummets to about 5 percent on my home e-mail.) So a lot of the inundation is spam.

Still, though, I don't filter it out. (In this business, we often receive images for stories via e-mail. You can imagine how often I'm fooled by e-mails with the subject line, "Here are those jpegs you wanted!") True, I keep having to dump dozens of spam messages a day for items and services I not only would never use but am often disgusted by. But occasionally one gem shows up, something I can use in my work.

Last week, while preparing a business report for a three-year plan, an industry survey appeared in my in-box. The subject line was vague enough it could have been spam, and, in fact, I almost deleted it without looking. It wasn't spam. It was information that fit perfectly into my report and added strength to my proposal.

In starting up an e-newsletter, one of the biggest hurdles is to get your message through the firewalls, figurative and literal, without being dumped unopened along with the spam. This was driven home when I received an e-mail from a reader asking to be removed from our list because he "did not want our marketing company spam." We don't send marketing spam. We're not a marketing company.

Rest assured, we hastened to comply with his demand — we're very diligent in respecting such requests, precisely because we don't want to be as offensive as spammers. But it was frustrating to know that the newsletter he was opting out of could very possibly have held information he could use to enhance his work.

Not only are our newsletter and website a source of industry news, we strive to be a platform for dialogue with our print and online readers. That's why our e-addresses work when you reply. Even if it's to unsubscribe. We hope you don't, of course — you never know what you could miss. I hate spam. I love news, though. And I'm still going to keep my e-doors open.

This month's Wellness Foods Insider has lots of great info we believe you'll find both interesting and useful. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any comments. I promise I won't delete it without reading it.

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