I’m a member of an organization with about 2000 members. We send out a newsletter, up ‘til now via snailmail. We’re exploring sending it, to at least some members, via email. I volunteered. Initially we’ll probably only be emailing to a few hundred people, but that number will likely grow over time.
We need to send the newsletter to the same 200+ (probably never more than 1000) recipients once per month, every month.
I have an email account at Yahoo, but from what I understand I can’t send mass emails because Yahoo will think it’s spam.
I Googled bulk email service, but got mostly marketing companies which, I think, isn’t what we really need. Also, I have no idea which of these companies are reputable or which are spam factories. We aren’t spamming.
So… how would one go about emailing few hundred of the same people once a month? Any particular service provider you’ve had a good experience with? Any not so good? Any advice? Hints? Pointers? The organization will pay for this service. How much should we expect to spend?
The newsletter is generally 4 – 6 pages (when printed on 8.5 x 11 paper) with minimal graphics (just the logo at the top) and generally no pictures. Would it be better to send it as a file attachment (Word?) and/or text in the body of the email?
I work for a non-profit agency, and we use Get Active, which is now owned by Convio, so … Convio. They maintain the list, keep track of bounces, etc. The rate is based on the number of subscribers, and multiple newsletters can be sent out accessing the same database (thus ensuring the right hand knows what the left is doing).
I’m a web designer/webmaster, and use two different processes for mailing lists with my clients. I deal strictly with opt-in lists, BTW; these are mailing lists where people specifically sign up to receive my clients’ newsletters or emails. That helps me and my clients avoid getting blacklisted as spammers.
You might find one of the below options useful.
Perhaps the easiest option for you, especially if you aren’t comfortable with setting up a program on your own server (actually, I can’t tell if you even have a server or website), would be to use a service such as Aweber (which I use) or Constant Contact. These allow you to use their own newsletter templates or design your own newsletters, and provide subscription forms for you to gain new subscribers.
With Aweber, if you plan on using your own images or files, you’ll need to have a webhost of your own. Also, while you can import existing subscribers (such as your list of 200 names), Aweber has a strict policy of ensuring that you’re not a spammer – which is why they have such a good reputation with ISPs. This means that they require your imported subscribers confirm their email addresses (and ensuring that they really want to receive your emails) by clicking on a link in a confirmation email. Not surprisingly, even those who’ve signed up for your mailing list may not click on a confirmation link, so this means you inevitably lose some subscribers. (My client’s completely opt-in list went from 3000 to 500 when we moved to Aweber!)
Constant Contact doesn’t have this requirement. This also means they don’t have as stellar a reputation, which means you may be more susceptable to ISP blacklists. But it may well be a risk worth taking, if you’re very certain that your newsletter subscriber list is valid.
Aweber costs about $20 a month, and this includes unlimited follow-up messages as well as regular newsletters (aka “broadcasts”) and even blog broadcasting. Not sure about Constant Contact.
The free but more time- and labor-intensive method is to use a mailing list script, such as phplist or DadaMail. I use DadaMail, BTW. These require that you have a webhosting account and a domain/mailing address. You upload the files, install the script, set up a few options and then design your newsletter. The process is naturally more manual than with the above pay services, and there are some features missing (such as automatic handling of bounces) and you’re on your own as far as managing your reputation as a spammer. But sending to 200 people once a month, assuming they are indeed opt-in subscribers, should not get you in trouble with ISPs.
To use one of these scripts, you do need some experience/familiarity with HTML, uploading files via FTP, possibly image creation, and setting up/installing programs – although the latter is fairly automatic and just means following instructions, rather than extensive technical knowhow.
Hope this is useful. If you need any more help, let me know.
I use ConstantContact for my wife’s business. It’s $15 a month for 500 emails or less. It’s a pretty decent app. Can easily upload your user list/email addresses. I’ve never really messed with sending an attachment using it, but they have a fairly intuitive WYSIWYG app for creating a newsletter that will put the content directly into the body of the email.