I need to send an email to ~1500 people. How do I do it?
December 2, 2013 10:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm launching a Kickstarter campaign tomorrow, and I have around 1500 people to email. How do I do this simply? I'd like the emails to come from my personal gmail address (and not DONOTREPLY@Mail1000.com or something), and if possible, I'd like to customize the emails such that they refer to each person by name (I have everyone in an excel file at the moment). If relevant for potential software/plugin solutions, I have a Mac and a Wordpress site on a good server.
posted by sdis to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: MailChimp
posted by humboldt32 at 10:11 AM on December 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

MailChimp. It's web-based, dead easy, and it's free up to 2000 subscribers. Using it right now!

One thing I do recommend: set up a filter in your email so that all emails coming as a reply from your email blasts all go into one folder. Any time you send an email blast out you will get a slew of auto-replies (spam verification, out of office, etc) and it's way easier to manage them when they're all in one folder.
posted by radioamy at 10:18 AM on December 2, 2013

You could set up IMAP for your Gmail account with MS Outlook, and then use Outlook's Mail Merge feature (you'll need Microsoft Word to do this, plus some way of creating the CSV file).

HOWEVER, a certain percentage of the people on the list will mark your message as spam (or the filters on their email client will do so). It's unavoidable. And after a certain threshold (typically greater than 1.5% of emails marked as spam) your ISP may get annoyed. I suppose using Gmail would prevent that, but at the same time a bulk email will get your address marked as spammy, and you your response rate may go way down as more people's email accounts automatically mark your message as spam and your intended recipients never see it.

The safe way to do the mailout is to use an email newsletter provider like Campaign Monitor or MailChimp.

With either of these, you have to explain (to the newsletter provider) how you obtained the addresses. Did people give their address to you? Are they expecting an email? Are they expecting the kind of email you are sending out?

If you are using email addresses collected from various sources across the internet and who did not "opt-in" you could be violating CANSPAM laws.

On the other hand, if you're sure that the 1500 folks won't mind (too much) about receiving an email, try using Campaign Monitor. It'll cost you about $15 for 1500 emails, but it's an easy platform to use and you can use it to "clean" the list of people who flag you as spam, or dead email addresses.

MailChimp is free to use below a certain threshold, but is much much much more strict about spam flags. If you receive too many spam results from a campaign, your domain or IP address will be banned, which would be sad, not only because you're basically a spammer, but also because MailChimp is an excellent tool.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:19 AM on December 2, 2013

It looks like gmail will limit your send to 500 recipients. Most ISPs enforce similar limits, and the purpose is to prevent people from doing exactly what you're trying to do: make a mass mailing. That is why products like Campaign Manager or Mailchimp exist.

Any bulk email service that wants to stay in business will be fairly paranoid about spam laws. Typically, if you are a new customer with a large email list, they'll try various ways to see if it's legitimate, such as sending out only part of it at first & waiting to see the bounce rate, and looking for known honeypot email addresses. If your list of 1500 people is a legitimate list you've put together yourself (from friends, say, or people who've given you their email addresses in the past) you'll probably be able to jump through the hoops & get your mailing out. Only a few people will take the trouble to opt out; the real issue is email addresses that are invalid and/or spam traps that are so sure of themselves they bounce the message.
posted by mr vino at 10:38 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Using a service will help avoid being labeled as spam. Have these 1500 people agreed that you may send them a solicitation email? If I knew you slightly, and you emailed me a solicitation, I would not think it was cool.
posted by theora55 at 10:49 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

MailChimp. It's got an option to use the person's name when sending the email and you can set the sending email address to be any email address you own (there's a verification mail sent, IIRC, to make sure you own it). Personally, I think it's a great service (as a free user).

However, three things to note:

1) MailChimp is HUGE on making sure you're not spamming people. So how did you acquire these 1500 email addresses? Are these all people who signed up to be notified of something? Are they all people you know? Make sure you're not actually sending unsolicited emails to people using MailChimp.

2) MailChimp requires that you include a physical mailing address. While you can kind of get around this in a variety of ways, if you want to be straight-up about stuff, make sure you have a valid mailing address to use.

3) I'm fairly sure that Gmail will automatically file any emails sent to Gmail addresses into one of those fancy new categories, like social or promotions. Might want to bear that in mind no matter what service you use.
posted by juliebug at 10:52 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mail Chimp.

As mentioned, you'll do best to garner good will from future customers by following email etiquette, which includes not sending unsolicited commercial messages. And if you're going to do it anyways, better make it as short and charming as possible, and ask them to opt into future mailings from you.
posted by fontophilic at 11:15 AM on December 2, 2013

Yup, MailChimp. Easy to set up lists (multiple ways to import your current mailing lists) and mailing campaigns. The reports feature lets you see who is opening your emails and what links they are following. You can also set up multiple users for your MC account with different rights.
posted by pibeandres at 11:34 AM on December 2, 2013

Response by poster: Alrighty, Mailchimp seems like the way to go.

I have 4 lists of folks:
-Folks who have specifically asked to be on my mailing list for everything
-Folks who have asked about book updates (this Kickstarter concerns my book)
-Folks who have purchased a (related) product from me
-Folks who have contacted me in the past about a topic related to my Kickstarter, but haven't specifically asked to be contacted.

List #4 (and possibly list 3) seems like the riskiest to use via Mailchimp. Thoughts? I imagine I could also do lists 1-3 (or 1-2) via Mailchimp and then the last list or 2 manually..
posted by sdis at 12:12 PM on December 2, 2013

Best answer: Make a special one-use-only mailing list for the folks in #4 (and possibly #3) that explains you're setting up a mailing list to send out info about your upcoming Kickstarter and other book projects, and tell them if they'd like to be on it, to click [this link] to sign up. Reassure them that you will not contact them again about this subject if they choose not to sign up.
posted by telophase at 1:04 PM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: @telophase: Good idea. Is there a way to do that in Mailchimp? I can't seem to find anything that doesn't already have an unsubscribe list on the bottom (which I'd rather not have in lists #3 or #4, since it kind of implies that they're going to keep getting regular emails)
posted by sdis at 2:35 PM on December 2, 2013

If you're doing it in Mailchimp, it has to have the unsubscribe link at the bottom. If you're not willing to send them a BCCed email, I'd just make it very clear that this is a one-time-only mailing and they will receive nothing else unless they actively opt in.
posted by telophase at 5:17 PM on December 2, 2013

Mailchimp has a pretty explicit list of what's cool and what's not. My reading of it is that your lists #1 and #2 are ok, but lists #3 and #4 are not.

The correct way to do what telophase is suggesting is to put lists #1 and #2 into Mailchimp, then use some other service to contact the other folks with a one-time mailing that allows them to opt-in to Mailchimp.
posted by zanni at 10:13 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

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