Managing Your

Mailing List


"Choosing a Home for Your Mailing List? 
What You Should Know Before Moving In."

By Merle

If you have a website, you know the importance of 
having your own list. Most site guests won't buy from
you on the very first visit. Collecting their email 
addresses, and building a relationship with them 
through an ezine can lead to converting them to 
buyers later.

So how do you manage your lists? You have 
two options:

1) In House - Manage your own list, either from your
own server, or desktop. Either way, you will need to
install special software for this purpose.

2) Outsource: Use an outside web-based service
to manage your list. You log in and manage and
send mailing from the Net.

How do you know which solution is best for you?
You must consider all your needs so that no
matter which option you select, it can do what
you need it to do... even as your needs change.

The first thing to consider is the format you'll
be publishing in; text or HTML? Some list management
programs can publish in both formats simultaneously,
(called Multi-Part MIME). If your list management 
solution doesn't include that feature, the only way 
you can publish in both formats is to maintain two 
separate lists.

You also need to consider your technological skill
level. If you're a novice with simple needs, you 
don't want to use something overly complicated. 
Some vendors offer a 30-day free trial; do take
advantage of these before making your final decision.

Finally, the size of your list will affect your 
decision. If your list is very large, the cost of 
using a third-party service may be the factor that 
determines how your list will be hosted.

So how do you know if the software or service you're
thinking of using is reliable? Look for testimonials
on their site. If people are happy with a product
or service, they won't hesitate to send in a few words
about their great experience. If you have questions,
ask. Send a few emails to customer support for further
clarification. Their response time may be another
indicator of their quality and dedication.

Another thing to consider in this day and age is
"Double Opt In." With more and more states instituting
Sp@m laws, you may want to go this route now if you
haven't in the past. Do make sure that the service 
or software you select can handle both single and 
double opt in. Requiring your readers to confirm 
their subscription requests will slow down the 
growth of your list, but will also help to protect 
you and give you proper documentation if you ever 
find yourself in the middle of a lawsuit or accused
of spamm!ng. 

Also helpful for documentation is the ability to
record a subscriber's IP address. Many services and
programs do this automatically.

If you decide to use an outside service make sure
they're trustworthy before handing over your hard 
earned list. You wouldn't want some devious person 
abusing your subscribers. Your subscribers' privacy 
should be as important to you as it is to them.

As an online publisher, you'll also have to deal with
bounces. There are two types, "hard" and "soft." A 
hard bounce is a permanent error, meaning the email 
address is no longer valid. Soft bounces refer to 
temporary problems due to a "full mailbox" or other
server issue. You'll want to know what system is in
place for removing the hard bounces so your list stays 
current and clean. I know in my own case the software 
I was using didn't provide for this, so I paid my 
programmer to write a script that would automatically
delete all hard bounces the very first time they 

Manually maintaining your list can take up
a lot of your time, 
so this is an important issue to consider, especially
as your list grows larger. 

Also, if you continue to send to bad email addresses,
some service providers may block your IP address. 
The result is that none of your emails will ever get
through again. This leads me to the topic of blacklisting.
If you decide to go with an outside service, you'll
want to make sure they're not being blacklisted. If 
they are being blocked by any of the major ISP's like 
AOL, none of your email will get through to any of your 
subscribers that use that service. This is very important.
You don't want to be found "guilty by association."
Choose wisely. You don't want to move your lists and 
then find out that hundreds of copies of your hard 
earned ezine are being returned to you as undeliverable.

So now that you know what features to look for, let's
go over some of your options when it comes to software
or service providers.

Software/Inhouse Options:

1) CGI Script-

With a cost of only $49.00, this script installs on
your server and uses your own hosting provider for
actual mailings. Creates HTML or text ezines.

2) WorldMerge:

Allows you to quickly and easily generate large numbers
of personalized e-mail messages using your database of
recipients and a "template" e-mail message. A free
evaluation version is available. Purchase for $59.00

3) GroupMail:

Desk top software that allows you to manage multiple.
Sends in Two Part Mime format so you don't have to 
keep two separate lists for text and HTML subscribers. 
If the user can't read HTML, he'll automatically get
the text version. You can also schedule messages for
future delivery. Three versions available: free, pro
and plus. Free to $179.00, depending on the version 
you select.

4) Subscribe Me:

Installs easily on your server and runs on UNIX or
Windows platforms. Allows unlimited mailing lists
and the ability to track your incoming clicks from
links in your newsletter. Offers single or double
opt in.

5) PHP List:

Free to download. It is written in PHP and uses an SQL
database for storing the information. Personalized
mailing list manager.

6) Mojo Mail:

Mojo Mail is a web-based e-mail list management system,
which runs on any hosting account that can run custom CGI
scripts. Free to download. Try out the live demo on the

Web Based Services: Outsource

1) iBuilder:

Browser based; upload and manage your own list. Charges
are based on how many emails you need to send out. Full
template system available and a free trial so you can
test it out.

2) Email Works:

Pricing depends on usage: 1 credit = 1 email sent. You
can sign up and try out the service, as you'll be
given 25 free credits for registering. Can send in
plain text or HTML.

3) Constant Contact:

Free 60-day trial. Create professional HTML personalized
emails and even allows you to schedule delivery times 
in advance.

4) IntelliContact:

Create and manage unlimited lists. Sends in Multi
Part Mime Format. Pricing is based entirely on the total
number of subscribers that you have in your account. A
list of 5,000 will cost you 25.00 per month, less if
paid annually. Try it for 30 days, and if you don't 
like it your money will be refunded.

5) GraphicMail:

A web-based tool for the design, management and 
distribution of graphical e-mails. Use the online 
editor to design your own ezine, or use one of the
handy templates. A list of 5,000 subscribers will 
run you 19.95 a month. No obligation, 60 day trial.

6) EmailFactory:

Create and manage your own lists with this easy online 
interface. Offering many levels of service, the cost 
of the beginner tier includes a one time set-up fee of
$100.00, then $25.00 a month. Easy to upload an 
existing list, and can send in text or HTML with full 

7) Mailer Mailer

Simple web-based interface that allows you to
upload your existing list or start a new one. 
Templates available if you'd like to use them. 
Sign up for ability to try then out by sending 
up to 200 messages for free.

8) Simple Post:

Easy to import your existing list. Provides you with
statistics about how many people received the message,
how many opened it, and what links in the email were 
clicked.Your subscriber base can't go over 50,000 and
a list of 5,000 will cost you 24.99.

As you can see, you have many options when deciding on
a home for your list. It's important that you find one
that does what you need now and has the ability to
grow with you into the future. Inhouse or outsourced,
the choice is yours just make sure you choose wisely.
A good home is hard to find, and once found you wouldn't
want to have to move out unexpectedly.

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