Email newsletter software for 4500 person college list
February 4, 2010 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Is there a free app to mail out an email newsletter to ~4500 people using an existing SMTP server?

I run an email newsletter at my school, and every week we need to send it out to about 4500 people. I used to use a program called CustomMailer, but it's pretty terrible, so I'd like to move to something better. It'd be best to have something that's free, since all it's needed is to send the emails via our school's SMTP server.

HTML email support is a plus, but not completely necessary. I'd like this to be relatively easy to use, so that when I hand it off to someone else to do, they'll be able to figure it out.

I've considered just writing my own app to do this, but it'd be nicer to use something that already exists. Looking at past questions that have been answered, nothing seems to really fit the bill

Anyone have any experience with something like this?
posted by deansfurniture5 to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd start by talking to whomever is hosting your email server. Most of the hosts I've dealt with had server-side tools for running mailing lists.
posted by Anoplura at 11:34 AM on February 4, 2010

Is there a problem with using Thunderbird or Pegasus or any other free e-mail client? I've used some of them to send e-mails to that many people with no problem.
posted by jmd82 at 11:44 AM on February 4, 2010

Would this be something google groups could handle? Add users silently to a group and send out? Only allow admins to send to the list?
posted by CharlesV42 at 11:47 AM on February 4, 2010

Edit: brain fart, as that would definitely not come from your smtp server
posted by CharlesV42 at 11:47 AM on February 4, 2010

Gnu Mailman is a pretty popular choice if you have a linux or OSX box around to run it on:
posted by jenkinsEar at 11:49 AM on February 4, 2010

It's only one feature of a much more complicated system but the open source application SugarCRM would do this. It also permits opting out / unsubscribing, handling bouncebacks, and a variety of tracking features. Might be bad for your easy-hand-off requirement, however.
posted by XMLicious at 11:52 AM on February 4, 2010

GNU Mailman set up as announcement-only is what you want.
posted by unixrat at 12:23 PM on February 4, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the response before!

jmd82: I didn't realize Thunderbird could handle something like this--have you sent a single email to 4500 recipients, or do you break it up into multiple emails? How automated is that process?

To those who suggested Mailman: How user friendly would that be? It's definitely a possibility, but I definitely want it to be as foolproof as possible for future users.

Also, something to keep in mind: this list changes every year. We get a spreadsheet of all of the school's undergrads from the registrar, so somehow that needs to be read in, though I could also just put together a simple script that converts from XLS/CSV to whatever format the program needs.

I don't really need many features at all. This is announcement only, and there's no need for opt-out (since it's only being sent to university email addresses, anyways).

Thanks for your help so far!
posted by deansfurniture5 at 12:36 PM on February 4, 2010

I'm fairly sure mailman can import a csv of a jillion emails. It's MOSTLY user friendly, but I say that as someone who's a little ahead of the curve on most web-apps. It's not pretty, but it's pretty plain-english.

You really might look at constantcontact. Not free, but very easy to use and very hard to funk up.
posted by TomMelee at 1:40 PM on February 4, 2010

I think you'll struggle to find something free that does what you want in a friendly way.

I'd recommend Group mail, which i've used in the past, and is really good program with lots of features. It's $140 for a one-off licence, and you can use your own smtp server
posted by derbs at 2:13 PM on February 4, 2010

Just to check— you just need to send an identical message to a few thousand people, as if you'd put them all on the bcc: line? You don't need list archiving and indexing, personalization of the messages, automatic removal of bouncing addresses, etc.? They're mostly at your own organization so you don't need to worry about triggering some egress spam filter? Then that's simple enough you don't really need a tool other than what a typical mail server provides in the form of mail aliases. If your mail administrator doesn't mind, you could simply send them a text file of addresses once a year and they could put that into an aliases file. (As long as no spammer discovers what address the list is aliased to... :) )

Mailman is a fine choice, though you wouldn't be using most of its features. It wouldn't be surprising if your campus sysadmins have a copy installed somewhere already and can just create a new list for you to use. You can use mailman's sync_members command to update the mailing list contents when you get a new list of addresses each year.
posted by hattifattener at 7:08 PM on February 4, 2010

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