The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

3 free mass email systems

You’ll laugh, but it is one of those obvious idea that gets overlooked just because it is obvious.

Since October 1st, I’ve been testing three free and (mostly) hassle-free mass email systems that you probably already know about. If not, here they are:

  1. Google Groops
  2. MSN Groops
  3. Yahoo Groups

Although originally conceived of as email discussion lists, with multi-party input, each of these free services can be configured to accept input from one party only (you) and to serve as a one-way email distribution list.

The main advantages of using this type of service:

  1. Low cost. The service is hosted and maintained by someone else.
  2. CAN-SPAM compliance. Although something you still need to look at and be aware of, the opt-in / out-out mechanisms are fairly rigorous, transparent, and essentially out of your control. It is difficult to send unsolicited emails through these systems.
  3. List access. With the Google and Yahoo systems, you can download your subscriber list.
  4. Web access. With the Google and Yahoo systems, privacy settings allow the distributed emails to be accessible to non-members, if you choose, or private and restricted to members only.
  5. SEO. When set to public view and accessible to non-members, there is the possibility that the list contents will be indexed by search engines. As far as I can tell, it is the same possibility that any web page has. Some are and some are not indexed, depending upon standard SEO considerations.
  6. Public familiarity. There is a good chance that a prospect has already been exposed to these systems, is familiar with the interface, and has confidence he or she can actually opt out or adjust delivery options if your messages become annoying or irrelevant.

For general evaluation purposes my test involved setting up three parallel lists . . . one of each of the three systems . . . in the first week of October. I then started a cron-activated PHP script that automatically sent a daily message by email to each of the systems, and then had each of the systems forward the daily email back to me by joining the respective lists as a member.

The Google and Yahoo systems functions flawlessly and timely. The MSN system was consistently slow and imperfect. Some email messages run through the MSN system arrived two or three days late, and more than a few never arrived at all. This was never a problem with either Google or Yahoo.

There is more to be said about this, but it is enough for now.

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Written by Tom Fox

12/06/2007 at 12:45 pm

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