What's the best software for bulk email?
April 7, 2004 3:08 PM   Subscribe

A client wants to send bulk email. What's the best software? Is there a way to get address lists of people who might be interested in the product (shrink film), or do you just buy lists wholesale somewhere? Will I be lost to the Dark Side and land in the spammer's circle of hell if I set this up for them?
posted by muckster to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
If you want to do it in pure slime ball fashion Ada Email Search seems to work.
But seriously, advice them against it. Even my not-at-all-tech-savvy mother loathes companies sending unwanted email. Even if they sell other stuff than penis products.
posted by mr.marx at 3:19 PM on April 7, 2004

Will I be lost to the Dark Side and land in the spammer's circle of hell if I set this up for them?
Yes. Yes, you will and deservedly so. If your client wants to do the right thing instead of just grabbing a cheap and nasty way to get their product in front of people, they need to legitimately gather addresses from those who are actually interested in their product rather than relying on the shotgun approach. A source for this could be the relevant industry association, who may be able to supply such a list if your client is a member. If, by shrink film, you mean the plastic that is used to protect products during shipment then the market is almost exclusively restricted to companies who are involved in either manufacturing or shipping and there is no point in sending 5 million e-mails to people who have no use for the product.
posted by dg at 3:53 PM on April 7, 2004

Does your client reside in the USA? If the answer is yes, be certain to point them to information about CAN-SPAM.

Is your client trying to sell a product or a service?

Is your client trying to drive traffic to a website?

Will your client need to be able to track open rates, click through rates or anything other than simply blast email out to a bunch of addresses?

(Full disclosure, one of my clients is an online direct marketer.)
posted by sequential at 4:15 PM on April 7, 2004

Suggest Google ad words. It'll only be shown to people looking for related stuff, and it'll save your teetering soul.
posted by NortonDC at 4:25 PM on April 7, 2004

Majordomo is all you need. The best thing about it is that it makes it easy to implement proper standards, i.e., ensuring that only people who genuinely opted in to your mailings will receive them.

The only way to acquire a legitimate address list is for people to sign themselves up to your mailings; anyone who offers to sell you an email list is a spammer and thinks that you're a spammer too, as only a spammer would buy such a list.

And if you set up anything other than a genuine opt-in system for these mailings, yes, you're a spammer and fully deserve to go to hell for it.
posted by Zonker at 4:36 PM on April 7, 2004

And in case the "you'll go to hell if you do" responses seem harsh, consider that there are some on the net who are proposing the following oath: "I swear that if I am ever selected to be a juror I will never vote to convict any person for injuring or killing a spammer."

Me, I don't go quite that far. Yet.
posted by Zonker at 4:55 PM on April 7, 2004

Muckster - email me and I'll put you in touch with someone who provides a web-based administration tool that will let you and/or your client send bulk email. They're on the up and up and handle very large, very reputable clients. They'll also help you negotiate any potential minefields w/r/t content and your email list.
posted by bshort at 4:57 PM on April 7, 2004

a company i used to work for, that did some bulk mails before i was there....the spam complaints from admins on various anti spam sites are still their #1 source of mentions in google. just something to keep in mind.
posted by th3ph17 at 5:05 PM on April 7, 2004

Unfortunately, muckster, your question about the software got lost in your question about the ethics. I, too, am looking for software to send mass emails -- anyone know of anything good? I'd like the ability to autodetect html-capable client, the abillity to send using your own smtp, the ability to delay and schedule mailings...not looking for a hosted solution either. Anybody?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:17 PM on April 7, 2004

Take a look at lyris. There are others of course, but that's the one I have some experience with, and it seems to work OK.
posted by willnot at 7:53 PM on April 7, 2004

I second Lyris.
posted by tranquileye at 8:33 PM on April 7, 2004

There is no way to "get a list of people who might be interested" and not simply be a spammer. Anyone who sells such a list is lying. You will be spamming. You will go to hell.
posted by Voivod at 2:09 AM on April 8, 2004

I find GroupMailPro a very easy to use program. It lets you import your HTML from whatever editor you use, import addresses from a database, and personalise the email, and has its own built in SMTP server.

link here

Please don't use it to send unsolicited email though!
posted by derbs at 3:45 AM on April 8, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. I'll do my best to convince them that unsolicited mails are a not a good idea, bad for business, and potentially illegal--not to mention the karmic damage. I'll check into the options y'all listed to see what might work for an opt-in service.
posted by muckster at 7:37 AM on April 8, 2004

Hmmm, I remember back in the delightful days of 1999 when the bubble was fresh, and I had a client who absolutely had to send hundreds of thousands of emails.

I wrote a bulk emailer program that used CDONTS as it's backbone. CDONTS (Collaboration Data Objects for Windows NT® Server) is a Microsoft library for sending mail with no user interaction. CDONTS is nice since it rides Windows SMTP service, which means it doesn't require an unsecured external SMTP to send email. You just need a correctly configured DNS server to make it work right.

I did feel a lot of guilt about writing the program. Especially when the company I was contracted to write it for gave me CDs of email addresses to import into their 'client' database. Or when I was testing it and forgot to turn on the debug flag, and sent about 500,000 'test' emails.

This doesn't really answer your question, I was a programmer, so I programmed my bulk emailer. I never looked for existing software. But still, I feel bad that I ever wrote that program, I felt bad when I went back a year later to the same company and it was still being heavily used. I felt bad when I added features to it for them :(
posted by patrickje at 10:03 AM on April 8, 2004

I can't help you with obtaining lists, but for the process of sending email, you may want to consider Constant Contact, offered from Roving Software. They've got a good system together, they take care of managing opting in and out for you, and they're careful about their reputation -- I believe they really care about (and have staked their busines on) making sure they do email marketing right. They have some good templating technology, too... OK right now... it will get cooler this summer.

Disclaimer: I work for one of their partners, but don't really have any motivation to promote their product other than the fact I think it's worth looking at. I don't get paid more if you do too. : )
posted by weston at 1:18 PM on April 8, 2004

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