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July 28, 2017 9:33 AM   Subscribe

I need to send emails to 500+ people in a club. What should I use to do this?

We have 450 memberships that include couples in their 70s to young parents in their 20s, and many memberships have multiple email addresses per family. I need to be able to send email notices to the membership about important things like annual dues payments.

We tried to move to MailChimp, but it's been a mess. About half of our emails either get sent to spam or they do not arrive at all, and many times a member will tell me that they haven't received an email even when MailChimp says that the same person opened it. I have checked and double-checked these email addresses and usually they're correct. And there's no pattern to which emails go astray- gmail, yahoo, aol, and the domain for the public school district all do it inconsistently.

I just started a Facebook group for the membership, but not everybody is on Facebook. Google Groups might work but I think it will confuse people when Google asks them to create a Gmail account if they don't have one, and I don't want my elderly members to have to be forced to make that choice. If I'm going to go to Yahoo Groups, I might as well go old-school with a listserv. But where I can set one of those up?

I don't really need everyone on the list to be able to talk to everyone else. I really just need to be able to send emails from the Board and ensure that they're going to get into the inboxes of the membership who wants to read them.

posted by aabbbiee to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you tried a mail merge? If you have the members' email addresses in a spreadsheet, you can easily run a mail merge that will send the message to each address using your info as the sender (which should prevent it from getting marked as spam). Here are instructions for gmail/Google Docs and here are instructions for Microsoft Office using Outlook and Word.
posted by torridly at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have had very good results with MailChimp. One thing to do is send out an email to any members who do not appear to be receiving your emails to verify that you have the correct email address and verify that they have the sending email address in their online address book and have configured any filters to deliver your emails. My experience in managing a MailChimp newsletter that goes out to around 750 people is that it is 99% of the time a delivery issue on the recipient's end that can be solved when they correctly configure their receiving options. Moreover, it is also my experience that people who say they never received an email that MailChimp says they opened are incorrect 100% of the time.

One thing to be aware of is that gmail and perhaps some other email systems will occasionally designate email from MailChimp as "promotional" and may sort it accordingly. For example, if a gmail user who uses the tabbed inbox feature says he is not receiving our notices, I ask him to search in his "promotions" tab to locate our email and then drag the email into his main inbox to "teach" gmail where to deliver our emails. We have a high success rate on that.
posted by slkinsey at 10:38 AM on July 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

You don't have to have a gmail account to be subscribed to a Google Group, and fundamentally, Google Groups and Yahoo Groups are the same thing as a listserv, but with a web interface too. The advantage of Google (and Yahoo) is that they work really hard on making sure things get delivered.

The risk with a mail merge is that it may look *more* like spam.

With that said, MailChimp has a great reputation and works hard on making sure emails get delivered too, so you might want to review the *content* of what you're sending. Google has a very good page on how to send bulk email and you should bear in mind that things like trackers that tell you whether mail was opened may be the kind of thing that will trigger spam tagging. Things like having unsubscribe links, honest subjects, less fancy HTML, etc. really do matter.

People should add the sender to their contact list, tag emails as Not Spam, tag them as Important, etc.
posted by idb at 11:16 AM on July 28, 2017

I manage a smaller mailing list with a similar demographic, and this year we tried out MailChimp too, with only about a 60% success rate. We've had much better luck with Paperless Post. I use the free cards and because the recipient has to click a button in their email in order to view the card, I can tell who received it with accuracy. You could use an "announcement"-type card to say that it's dues renewal time, and there's a form where they can send a comment back to you.
posted by xo at 12:02 PM on July 28, 2017

Constant Contact is what our local PTA uses. I have found that GMail will let you send 500 emails in a calendar day. You could set up one big group and bcc it and send it. Can't hurt to try.
posted by AugustWest at 12:18 PM on July 28, 2017

I'd say either try to fix your MailChimp problems, or use Google Groups. Do not send 500 emails from your inbox, that's going to have even worse deliverability.
posted by radioamy at 12:41 PM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have tried to troubleshoot the MailChimp issues, but I have found that our members are not very interested in a back-and-forth over where to search for emails and how to change settings and all of that. I ask, "did you look in the spam folder? are we listed as a contact?" and the response is "Didn't get it! Could you resend?" and no follow-up. Our members are not tech-savvy- we have a few dozen with email addresses.

And it's this lack of tech savvy that makes me hesitate on Google Groups. It will take me hours to enter 500+ email addresses to set up a Google Groups, and I'm concerned that Google will make it look to some of our members like they need to have a Google account set up. I know they don't, but I'm concerned about the confusion it will cause. (Again, emails.)
posted by aabbbiee at 2:33 PM on July 28, 2017

Your other possibility is to use a computer-based mass-mailer. Back before we went over to MailChimp, I used Direct Mail, which is an excellent product for the Mac. I assume similar products exist for Windows.
posted by slkinsey at 11:26 AM on July 31, 2017

Part of your solution might simply be to hit multiple channels and cross-advertise those various channels on the groups home page (wherever that may be), i.e. cross-post a link on Twitter to the specific Facebook post, indicate that the email has been sent, etc.
posted by idb at 1:09 PM on August 2, 2017

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