Finding the Right Mailing List Program
In this installment, we will cover the technical issues associated with maintaining a mailing list and several programs that you can use to keep track of your mailing list and send out your publication.
1. Subscribe – how will people subscribe to your mailing list? Usually, you will have an email address that people can use to subscribe to your mailing list. They simply send an email to an address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and they will automatically be placed on your mailing list. All of the programs or List Servers that we cover below offer an “automatic subscribe function”.
2. Unsubscribe or Remove – how will people get off your list, if they want to? This may be handled manually or automatically. In most cases you will have either a form or an email address that people may use to be removed from your mailing list.
3. Error Mails or Undeliverables – how will you handle all those undeliverable emails? When you start publishing, many of your subscribers may change their address and not inform you. When you send out your ezine, you will quickly find out about undeliverable email. Some of the programs below will handle removing undeliverables from your mailing list automatically.
4. Archives – how will you archive your ezine? Why should you archive your ezine? Archives are helpful because you can refer people to them. Many people may want to read your archives before subscribing to your newsletter. Some people may want to read them for the information they contain. You may want to refer back to them for what you wrote in previous issues. Some of the programs below will automatically archive each issue of your ezine.
5. Mailloops – what if your newsletter gets caught in a never ending mailloop? This means that you send out your newsletter and the address you send it to has an autorespond message, so it sends you back a message and then your address sends them back a message, etc. etc. Some programs will handle this problem, others won’t.
6. Security Features – are you fearful that your mail list will be discovered by spammers? If so, then you will desire security features on your mailing list program.
7. Double Opt In – this means that people must send an email to an address, they receive an email, and they must reply to that email in order to be included on your list. (They have sent out two emails or fill out one form and reply to one email in order to be included on the list.) Because your subscriber is acting twice – it’s called – “double” opt-in.
Five programs you can use to send out your email list:
1. A regular, old email program. Suggestions: Eudora or Pegasus (both shareware). These email programs may be configured to auto-subscribe and auto unsubscribe people to your mailing list. It is a very simple way to maintain your mailing list. You will be in full control of your list, but you will also be required to do a little bit more manual work than a list server would offer. Greg Leveto explains how this works in his article.
2. A free List Server that comes with your host. Many hosts are now offering a free List Server. This offers you the ability to have auto-subscribe. It doesn’t handle auto unsubscribe or any of the other technical issues mentioned above. It requires manual work to maintain, however, you have full control over all aspects. Read this article if you are interested in your host’s listserver.
3. A free Mailing List Provider. You don’t need your own host. The following sites will host it for you. The following services are free – however, they will usually include their own ads at the bottom of every issue of your ezine. Usually, all of the technical issues above are addressed with these providers. David Handlos talks about using onelist.com (now egroups.com) in his article.
4. A paid for Mailing List Provider. These websites will charge you for maintaining your list. All of the technical issues are addressed by these providers.
5. Mailing List Software or Scripts – both free and for sale.
You can find this type of program at places that offer CGI scripts:
- resourceindex.com (Check out Mailing List Management)
- Or try Mailloop Business Automation Software to automate everything from your newsletter server and email database merging to webform processing.
- My personal favorite.
The above five options will be discussed in further detail on the following pages of this tutorial.