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I find myself with the enviable problem of having more work than time, and as such, I'm attempting to steamline tasks and increase efficiency, along with raising my rates. One issue that has cropped up more and more frequently is client communication. I have about two dozen clients currently, with between 10-20 who are active in any given month (with billable hours) and a few who I only hear from once or twice a year for a quick fix or update.

I've been at this a dozen years, and personal emails have always sufficed to communicate information effectively prior to now. However, there are times when a mass email would be much more time-efficient than firing off two dozen similar emails, such as:

  1. Letting clients know I'll be on vacation/unavailable
  2. Informing them of big software updates, tech industry changes (mobilegeddon, etc), and new features available
  3. Giving a heads-up on rate hikes

I currently have an almost-empty MailChimp list that I started because I felt like I should have one, and I've considered moving my client list there so I can communicate with them en masse. I can even personalize the emails by integrating it with my invoicing software to include their account information.

However, is that too impersonal? Is moving to something like a CRM a better option for communicating with current clients? If you have a decent number of clients, how do you handle group communications? What I don't want to do is send out an email and BCC everyone. That's not my style and I personally dislike getting BCCed on emails, so I won't do it to anyone else. On the other hand, I also don't want to copy & paste two dozen emails, either, and recognize that there must be a happy medium.

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If you want to send individual emails from MS Outlook, you can do a Word mail merge to email. Just be careful because some ISP's watch the number of emails that go out in an hour for SPAM concerns. 24 emails is probably OK. I know my ISP will shut me down at 50 in a certain period.

As a client, I would not be off put at all by receiving an "obviously" mass email (mail chimp) to give general news about your business, like you're going on vacation. As long as you are responsive to their individual emails, I doubt they will feel slighted. And it's a nice subtle way to let them know you are busy and have many other clients. It may help prepare them emotionally for the personal note they receive about your rate hike.:-)

With services like Mail Chimp, people are supposed to opt in to receive the email, so even though they are already your clients who you email, you may want to send them a personal email first with a link to opt in. Let them know you'll use the account to notify them of XYZ type things and to please white list you if they want to receive these notifications.

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  1. There's nothing wrong with a mass-email about a vacation or other unavailability. That seems like the best way to handle it.

  2. News on software updates and industry trends is a little more iffy. I would ask the client if they want to "subscribe" and don't mass-email those who aren't interested. You could also consider having a blog.

  3. Rate hikes are never good news, and with that in mind a personal touch is probably better than a mass email.

You should absolutely BCC everyone. If you include every client's email address in a mass email, you are breaching their confidentiality. Whether or not you have an NDA, that's bad form. I would be very upset if my email address was visible in a work-related mass email that went out to other businesses.

  • Sorry if that wasn't clear - the alternative to BCC would be individual emails or a service like MailChimp, never just openly emailing everyone. I agree with you! – LMK Web Sep 24 '15 at 19:55
  • I'm not familiar with MailChimp. If it lets you send out a mass email to separate users individually without having to copy-and-paste anything, doesn't that cover the concerns in the last few sentences of your question? – user45623 Sep 24 '15 at 20:38
  • It's an email marketing/newsletter service, and the free version (that I have) is branded, thus making it less personal - people can unsubscribe, the "from" address is authenticated differently, and Gmail (and possible other ESPs) will automatically bump mail from there to the promotional or newsletters tab. That changes the dynamic. – LMK Web Sep 24 '15 at 21:05
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Distribute it in the form of a newsletter, which is openly mass-emailed. That will show that your business is healthy as you feel the need to address a larger audience at a time.

And if you add a pinch of personalization like quoting the people's name (not much is needed), this will give a professional look and show effort for quality communication.

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