The Basics of a Mailing List Structure

The short and sweet of it is that a text mail subscriber list is nothing
more than a plain text file that contains email addresses.
Sometimes these *flat files* also contain first and last
names, as well as other additional and optional information.

A *flat file* is a term used to describe a storage file that
is not a database. Generally, the flat file is a plain text
document without the .txt or other file extension attached
to it.

If a flat file contains more than one piece of data, then each
additional item is separated from the next by commas or other
delimiters. The pipe key (shift – back slash) or the tab key
serve as the next most popular delimiters used in flat files.

Each new record will appear on a new line. The new line is
signaled by the carriage return in the file.


Note: These examples show two leading spaces in front of each
record. In real life data files, your records should not
contain the leading spaces.

Example C is the most versatile of the three examples. In some
cases, it makes sense to personalize the list owner’s messages.
Whereas, Example B will permit you to address someone by first
name or first and last name — depending on how you direct
subscribers to sign up — it does not always serve the more
personable style of mixing and matching the first name and
the combination of the first and last name as provided for by
Example C.

Depending on the software that you will use to initiate your
mailing, you will be directed to show where you want the
additional data fields in your mailings.

The range of software available makes it nearly impossible to
quantify the various methods to get your personalized data into
your mailing. As such, I will only define an example to show
the basic idea of how to do this.

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