How can I send email to more than 500 people for free.
June 10, 2009 6:55 AM   Subscribe

How can I send email to more than 500 people for free?

I utilize gmail and have my contacts nicely in groups. However Gmail allows only for me to send out to 500 people.

What program can I use to send more than 500 people for free? Currently i have 650 in my contacts and i tend to increase by 10/20 every month.
posted by minsid to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I expect that to send to more people than that, you'll need to use a mailing list service or software that requires recipients to confirm their desire to subscribe to your mailing list, in order to avoid being canned for suspected spamming.
posted by winston at 7:00 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Why not just send 500 at a time?
posted by flabdablet at 7:17 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

You will need to get a mass mailer. They cost about 50$ or free if you know where to look.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:28 AM on June 10, 2009

You could try PHPMailer or Dada Mail. Each has (or at least used to have) a free version available.
posted by spilon at 7:41 AM on June 10, 2009

You should use an email newsletter service for one-way mass mailings, especially if you want to minimise the risk of being flagged as a spammer.

MailChimp lets you create your own templates with a WYSIWYG editor and is pretty cheap (1 cent per email if you buy 25000 credits, or $30 per month to email up to 2500 people any number of times).
posted by malevolent at 7:41 AM on June 10, 2009

(yeah, I know you said free, but I thought I'd mention an easy non-free option in case your time/effort/sanity is worth something)
posted by malevolent at 7:46 AM on June 10, 2009

If you want to set up a fancy-schmancy web-based mailing list interface, you can sign up for A Small Orange’s Tiny plan for $25 per year. Not quite free, but nearly so. Your package will come with an installation of GNU Mailman. This will give you nice features like automated subscription management (e.g. users can unsubscribe themselves rather than asking you to do it), archiving, bounce detection, etc. This wiki page describes how to set up a Mailman list as an announcement-only list (only you can send messages to the entire list).

The plan also includes as many email accounts as you want (limited only by your 75 MB of webspace). You can get your own domain name for an additional $10/year if you like. I recommend
posted by musicinmybrain at 7:49 AM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

For DIY (you did mention "program"), you may want to look into Blat, which I think is Windows only but runs on the command line like this:

blat [filename] -to [recipient] -i [sender] -f [sender] -subject [mysubject]-server [myserver] -port [portnumber, I use 587] -u [myaddress] -pw [mypassword]

Using a DOS batch file you can do some impressive automation and manage your own list. The issue here would be your mail server provider -- Dreamhost cuts you off if it gets 200 emails in an hour.
posted by crapmatic at 8:28 AM on June 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Add your contacts to a Yahoo Group, and send one email to the group address. However, adding people to such a list with their knowledge or permission is bad form, so you'd have to ask everyone to opt-in.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:28 AM on June 10, 2009

Be aware that many residential internet services will notice this kind of thing if you do it from your home connection with mass-mailer software.

I had a junk laptop several years ago on a Comcast DSL line get infected and start sending e-mails, and yes it did freeze our DSL connection after a couple of hours (no traffic at all, no pings past the first Comcast hop, modem had to be reset and computer disconnected and wiped). I am surprised Comcast would monitor the actual content going through its pipes but apparently they did and they don't like lots of e-mail.
posted by crapmatic at 9:51 AM on June 10, 2009

You send them out one at a time, by hand.

Otherwise, you are spamming them.
posted by bensherman at 10:34 AM on June 10, 2009

I recently researched this myself. This post was helpful.

They're aren't too many (any?) standalone free mass mailing programs, the reason being that most regular people don't have a need for sending 500 emails, and the businesses that do are willing to pay $10-$30 to do it because they're going to make money from it.

As I see it there are 3 ways to do this:

1. Newsgroup: Create a google group, add all your contacts, and make yourself the only poster. The members must opt-in for this, and I'm assuming they do want to receive these emails, and would be willing to sign up again.

2. Hosted service: A hosted solution is best, but not free. They'll prevent you from being blacklisted, and can handle unsubscribe requests, and give you stats. Mail Chimp and Campaign Monitor have already been mentioned. Their prices are reasonable, and well worth it.

You can also purchase your own domain and hosting, and use PHPMailer. This may be as cheap as $30 annually, but you still run the risk of being blacklisted, and requires you to muck around with PHP a bit.

3. Mass Mailing programs: These are programs that you would run on your computer, using your ISP's smtp. Your ISP may not like what you're doing, try to get you to pay for business level service, or randomly shut off your internet. Sending emails like this will tie up your computer and bandwidth for a few hours.

If you're on a mac, I like Mac Mass Mailer. It's interface is easy, and has good smtp throttle settings. For a time I needed to use this to send emails on behalf of my job from home, and I was lucky my ISP didn't mind the 300 emails. It's $60.
posted by fontophilic at 10:47 AM on June 10, 2009

Vertical Response allows for free mailings by non-profits. I believe one can send to up to 10,000(?) people per month. Beyond that it's $.
posted by soleiluna at 12:03 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

MaxBulkMailer is another good Mac/Windows solution.
posted by Wild_Eep at 12:11 PM on June 10, 2009

Otherwise, you are spamming them.

What? Not at all. If I gain superhuman typing abilities and can send out 1 email every 5 seconds, write them individually for each recipient, but they are all unsolicited advertisements, then this is spam.

On the other hand, if I send out a single e-mail to 1000 recipients sending them a news update on something they have already expressed interest in, this is a newsletter, not spam.

So long as these contacts really are your contacts and are expecting and desiring messages from you, go ahead and send the messages.

I'd recommend a mailing list solution over a bulk mailer, since that makes it easier for people to update their contact information or remove themselves if they wish.

If this is more along the lines of "Woo! I have 500 close personal friends and now I am sending them an update letter on my recent trip to Tibet!" I would seriously consider simply breaking down the contact list into groups of 300-400 or so and then sending a copy for each group.

It would most certainly be helpful to know what purpose the email serves. If it is a one-off thing breaking up the contacts into groups of 400 is better than setting up a mailing list or bulk mailier.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:42 PM on June 10, 2009

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