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If you are a serious marketer you have or will develop your own mailing list. It will not matter whether you do so with a service (such as aweber or get response), or if you have a self-hosted mailing program. In either case you will be working with .csv files either to upload or download your list. In either case, you should maintain a database of your list on your own computer.
With a service, your account is subject to termination at the whim of the service provider. In such case, you need to download your list to your computer at regular intervals. This insures that no matter the termination of your account by the provider you always have an active list of your subscribers. In the case of a self-hosted autoreponder series, downloading your list regularly insures the same result. Any trouble with your server or the files contained thereon could wipe your hard earned work out in a moment. Since your mailing list is your continued bread and butter, it is best to insure you have an up-to-date copy of your subscriber list.
The easiest means of accomplishing this is to create a database on your hard drive (you should also back-up at regular intervals) which contains your subscriber list. It will not matter which database program you use to house your subscriber database as long as you have created one. If you have Microsoft Access, use it, or if you do not have a paid for program you can use the free Open Office program to create your database.
Creating your database is relatively easy. Simply download your .csv subscriber file, open it, then create a database that contains all of the fields within the open .csv file. For instance, some marketers only ask for “name” and “email address” on their form. However, you may find there are hidden files that are returned in your .csv download file, such as “IP Address“, “dates”:, etc. In either case, when designing your database fields, make sure you have one field in the database file for each field in the .csv file. Also important (to avoid manipulation of your .csv file) is to insure that the fields in your database correspond to your .csv file by name and position. For instance, if your .csv file shows field as: Email, Name, IP – then your database should have the same named field in the same field order. Creating a database with fields; name, email, ip will not do. Insure the capitalization is the same as your .csv file and that the order of the fields is also the same as in your .csv file.
Within your database design, make all fields “required”. If you have the opportunity to choose to allow zero length, indicate “no”. Make each field’s indexed response “Yes Duplicates OK”. except the “Email” Field which should be the “Key Field” within your database and should be set to index “Yes duplicates no”. These settings will insure that only complete records are allowed in the database and no email address can be entered twice. If you have more than one website, it is possible that the same person subscribes on separate sites with the same email address. For this reason we recommend you maintain separate databases for each website. However, you can make one master list and we will show you how to maintain it and extract info in a later post.
Now, each time you download a .csv file from your service or self-hosted autoresponder, you will be able to import that .csv file into your database. Since you set the “Email” field to “No Duplicates”, it will disgard any duplication within the database as the import will only record new records into your database and by-pass email addresses already within your database and any data that applied to the line of entries.
Should your service ever terminate you, generally you only find out after your account has been closed so it will be too late to get a .csv of your list. However, you will have the list within your own database ready for empyment elsewhere (into a new service or self-hosted service). You will simply need to export your database files as a .csv file and upload this file to your new service. This is much better than trying to start your list over and losing your current subscribers and will save you hours of work and perhaps even save your business.