Best way to send/manage monthly e-newsletter to 2000 people?
October 10, 2006 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Looking for an affordable solution to send out a monthly e-newsletter to 2000 people, and maintain the mailing list.

Need an inexpensive solution for sending out company newsletter to 2000 people every month that doesn't run on a server. Our sales guy sends out a monthly reminder that points to the newsletter on our website. He needs a way to 1) send out the list to about 2000 customers that will 2) manage the bounces and unsubsubscribes, 3) can be run from his laptop, 4) is simple to use, 5) doesn't cost an arm and a leg (one time fee preferred), and 6) won't get us into trouble with our ISP because they think we're spammers (we aren't, or we wouldn't be asking all these questions).


posted by JamesMessick to Technology (19 answers total)
If you're currently using Outlook, everything you describe (except for bounces) can be managed with my ex-employer's product, High Impact eMail 4.0. It's very simple to use - grab a template, fill in the information, save, send. You can stagger emails so they're sent at any rate - 10 every ten minutes, for instance to keep your ISP happy - and they offer free image hosting, etc.

No, I'm no longer being employed by them and, in fact, I want nothing to do with them, but this product, it's good. There's a free download on their site.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 12:54 PM on October 10, 2006

If you have an old computer set up your own mail server. For example use Fedora and sendmail...both free. I currently do this and I use Horde/Imp for the web client if you so choose to have one. There are plenty of open source/free options out there that will work.
posted by birdlips at 1:15 PM on October 10, 2006

sorry, should have read more closely, you don't want a mail server.....
posted by birdlips at 1:16 PM on October 10, 2006

Constant Contact, I'd say - probably be like $50 a month.
posted by brucec at 1:44 PM on October 10, 2006

Wow, I really think you are taking the wrong course here. There is no reasonable way to do what you propose from a client machine that isn't on all the time. Managing bounces, unsubscribes, and accusations of "spam!" takes a serious amount of time and expertise.

I strongly urge you to look at a subscription service. I love for this, but at $20/mo it may be more than you are willing to pay. There are lower price mailing list service providers. is not bad at all. I think they even have an ad-supported free model at the entry level.

To repeat, this is not something your "sales guy" should be handling. The laws are tough and getting tougher, and unfortunately "we're not spammers" requires active proof, not a simple denial and deflection of "we're trying".

I am the hosting product manager for a major hosting provider, and my abuse guys would not be pleased to find you doing this on our servers. Try as you may, you *will* be getting spam complaints, and without a proven, auditable process for handling unsubscribes, we assume that you are in fact a spammer. That leads to unhappiness all around since you might very well get us blocked by the increasingly draconian "big guys" such as AOL, Comcast, Yahoo, and Google. It happens all the time. Our immediate. recourse is usually to freeze your account. You then call, angry, and the problem spirals from there.

You don't want that, and we don't want to do it either. Get a service. Do yourself and your host a favor, pay someone else to take the signficant headache.
posted by Invoke at 1:46 PM on October 10, 2006

There are several dozen products that fit this bill. For $200 you can get a guide that compares 64 vendors.

Campaigner from GOT is a good product and ExactTarget is probably the market leader for just email sending.

When you say "doesn't run on a server" do you mean no hosted services or no products that require a dedicated on-site server? In your position, I'd look for a hosted/ASP email provider. I'm not sure if Got or ET are web-based, but I know they send the emails from their own servers. I agree that you should not run your own dedicated server for this kind of application.

Disclaimer: I work for a competitor of the aforementioned companies, but our product is probably out of your price range.

And as Invoke says, you don't want these emails going out of your own ISP connection. You'd be amazed how complex it is to send out mass emails. Bounceback handling, subscription management, etc, etc.
posted by GuyZero at 1:50 PM on October 10, 2006

I'm a huge fan of CampaignMonitor. Their service will mail both plain-text and html messages, and they handle bounces and signups, too. CampaignMonitor's pricing scheme isn't bad, either: it's $5/mailing plus 1¢ per recipient.

(I'm not affiliated with CampaignMonitor, btw. I'm just a satisfied customer!)
posted by jacob at 2:32 PM on October 10, 2006

If maximising delivery and avoiding blacklisting matters (and it should), then running bulk-emailing software from a local machine is a really bad idea. Any sensible IT dept will forbid that approach nowadays, and it doesn't make commercial sense.

Using something like MailBuild, a technically- and design-minded person could set up templates for the sales guy to populate with content, and each mailshot would cost $25 or less.
posted by malevolent at 2:34 PM on October 10, 2006

If you're using a Macintosh, Intellimerge is pretty simple to use. I manage a newsletter list in roughly the same way you're describing with no difficulty using it.
posted by bradlands at 3:29 PM on October 10, 2006

I note that Intellimerge only automatically handles unsubscriptions if you do this:
AutoSubscriber: Let your subscribers and members add or unsubscribe themselves from your subscriber lists, without having to have IntelliMerge open. Simply upload the IntelliMerge AutoSubscriber PHP script to any web server for instant integration with existing web sites. AutoSubscriber also gives you the flexibility of adding a one-click "unsubscribe" link to the bottom of your messages. Just add it and forget it.
So, again you need a real server, connected to the net all the time, not a laptop. If you don't you aren't going to be legal, and you are entering spam territory.
posted by Invoke at 3:56 PM on October 10, 2006

I ran across this the other day, which didn't quite do what I wanted, but I expect would do exactly what you want.
posted by pompomtom at 4:05 PM on October 10, 2006

Response by poster: Hmmm, I found Campaign Monitor and loved it but the sales guy said "I'm not payhing $25/month" when I can send them out 25 at a time for free. His main problem is that for some reason this is about all he can sent at one time. I don't know if it's an Exchange server setting or a limitation. I'm not really a network administrator OR an Exchange kind of guy, that's why I didn't want to go with a server package if I could help it. Anyone know of an free/inexpensive Exchange add-on to do this? Wish I'd asked THAT question now. :-(
posted by JamesMessick at 4:37 PM on October 10, 2006

He probably can't send more than 25 at one time because you are being rate-limited by your ISP to prevent exactly this sort of misuse. We do that.

I find it flabbergasting that you think it unreasonable to pay $.01 per month per customer to stay in touch and upsell. Isn't the sales dude's time worth more than that? It must take at least $20/mo of his time just to manually manage sending those mails.

(My very simple message now repeated three times, I'll stop posting in this thread.)
posted by Invoke at 4:53 PM on October 10, 2006

Response by poster: I agree that it is worth paying for the service, it's the sales guy who'd rather waste an hour every month. I guess he has the time. I do resent the implication that this is span. These emails are going out only to past customers and people who have signed up for information at the shows. We/he aren't buying mailing lists to send this out, it is simply staying in touch with customers in our database who are amenable to it.
posted by JamesMessick at 5:43 PM on October 10, 2006

Constant Contact works great. I believe it is cheap, too.
posted by fieldtrip at 10:12 PM on October 10, 2006

Another "aye" for Campaign Monitor.

I forget what it is called, but you have a "If A and B must be true, then a solution does not exist" type of problem.

You can't send a 2000+ monthly mail blast out for less than $25 unless you...

a) Build a mail server from an existing machine. (i suppose if this were an option, you wouldn't have asked the question)
b) Enjoy managing subscriptions and bounces in excel or outlook contacts (I just threw up a little in my mouth from the thought of it)
c) Get lucky with a perfect open source app (again, a little technical knowledge may be required)
posted by littlelebowskiurbanachiever at 12:16 AM on October 11, 2006

I don't know about 2000 emails, but I've found MailKing ($100 USD) works well for smaller email lists. It just uses an SMTP server to send mail and can send in batches of 25 or whatever your ISP allows.

And If you are worried about pissing your main ISP off - or getting blacklisted - sign up for a webhosting account that gives you email (which is almost all of them) and then use their SMTP server.

But, test everything and tell your sales guy to make sure he doesn't send mails out to people who have unsubscribed or you will piss people off.
posted by kamelhoecker at 6:04 AM on October 11, 2006

I think the sales guy needs to be overruled and told that a third party service is the only option. Imagine if he was insisting on setting up a web server on his computer because that was the way he wanted to run the web site, someone would say no, right?

And don't be offended by the spam insinuations, it's only because well-run, reputable newsletters generally don't get sent from laptops.
posted by malevolent at 6:17 AM on October 11, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the good advice. I'll check out MailKing and continue to investigate our other options. I can't bust the guy for not wanting to spend $25/month if it's not in his budget.
posted by JamesMessick at 9:58 AM on October 11, 2006

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