No matter what you market, you probably send out emails. You might also publish a magazine, and you probably have a website, but everyone reads email.
It doesn’t take very long to realize the most common tools available are not the ideal solution for managing and sending emails to a large audience. Outlook is notorious for sending messages that are not standards-compliant. As anti-spam tactics get more and more stringent, it’s become risky to send large mailings from your personal computer for fear of being put on the dreaded “blacklist.”
There are many industrial-strength solutions available. And you may be surprised to learn that some are not as painful to implement as you might think.
One dandy solution is a program called World Merge. It’s published by Colorado Soft and allows you to mail merge from a variety of data sources. So instead of sending a “Dear Customer..” ezine or newsletter you can specify name, rank or serial number. World Merge will send plain text or HTML format. When creating HTML email it offers you a preview of both formats. Your merge data can come from a simple comma-delimited text file (CSV for short) or Excel or an Access database.
One feature I found helpful is the way you can filter your final recipients. This is very handy for situations where you send different messages to people on one list. For example you send everyone in Texas a coupon code, but everyone in Florida gets a free download. Instead of going back to your data source or editing the table you can filter the recipient list easily using World Merge.
World Merge is a program you install on your computer. A completely different approach is offered by Constant Contact. Their system is web-based and requires no software installation whatsoever. This is beneficial if you have several people that might need to manage the mailing list or send out newsletters. Another plus is the sophisticated tracking features they offer. You can tell how many people read your message, how many clicked a link and which link they clicked.
The downside to Constant Contact is you’ll pay a monthly charge which is based on the size of your list. However, they do offer non-profits a discount and you can test drive it for 60 days absolutely free.
Finally, if you have a blog, you may be just a few click away from sending those emails. One of the free tools offered by Feedburner includes an email subscription service. Some blogging systems already offer this feature- for those that don’t you can use Feedburner for free. Subscribers will automatically receive an email message when you post a new blog and you can choose to send the full message (pictures included) or just a short synopsis. Feedburner offers many other services that are handy for bloggers.
More information on the products mentioned visit these links…