Before sending out your Call for Papers (CFP), you need to have a mailing list you can actually send the email to (the other option is promote via Conference Announcements sites). The best place to start is with the database of emails from the previous years conference. While this is the most up-to-date list to have, it is important to keep it this way.
Use the most up-to-date database
The first thing to ensure is the database from the previous years’ conference is the clean version. You don’t want to include any emails that hard bounced from the previous year or any from people that said that they didn’t want to be contacted in the future. This will ensure that the list you’re sending to only contains people who want to hear from you. Sending to a vast amount of people that don’t actually want to hear from you may damage the reputation of your conference and can lead to the recipients marking your emails as spam, so all your future emails may not reach them. Besides, just because there are thousands on your mailing list doesn’t necessarily mean they will all submit to your conference. For example, there was one particular conference in the U.S in 2013 that had 30,000 email addresses in their database and the CFP email was sent out to all of these people – in the end only 150 abstracts were submitted to the conference. This shows that while you may have hundreds or even thousands of email addresses to send to, it doesn’t necessarily have a “knock-on effect” in terms of the numbers that will submit to your conference.
Keeping your list squeaky clean
Once you have the appropriate list, it is important to keep it clean. In the CFP emails you send out, there should be an option provided so that the recipient can unsubscribe themselves from the list if they wish. This way, the recipients will be cleaning the list for you. It will also indicate which emails have hard bounced and you will know there’s no point sending emails to them anymore. By using an email campaign tool like Mailchimp, you can measure how many emails bounced and how many unsubscribed. This way, all the “dirty” email addresses are removed and you will be left with a clean list of recipients who want to hear what you have to say. If you are using an integrated abstract management system, it can also provide a clean mailing list at the end of the conference.
Having a clean, efficient mailing list is fundamental for your conference. It will ensure your reputation is not tarnished, be up-to-date and are only sending your Call for Papers to recipients who want to hear from you. It will also ensure that next years Chair (possibly you again) has a good platform to start building from.