November 2, 2005Volume 4 Number 47 Issue 79
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Managing Your List: Paid List Servers vs. Free List Servers

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Managing Your List: Paid List Servers vs. Free List Servers

This week we will be discussing how to manage your email lists. It can be a big job but weíll discuss how you can get a handle on it with minimal fuss.

As you build up your subscriber list, youíre going to find yourself with a problem. Whichever mail program youíre using, whether itís Outlook or Eudora or something else, itís just not going to be set up to deal with the kind of mass mailing involved with newsletters.

If you have more than 50 people on your listóand that will probably take you less than a weekóyouíll need to use a listserv. Donít even try to do this by yourself!

You can hire a hosting company to organize this for you. They have a mail server that handles all the mail. You just send them the newsletter and they send it out. Alternatively, you can use a professional listserv such as Microsoftís List Builder, Sparklist, or other similar software. This can be very expensive.

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Hosted Email

Hosted email lists are easier to manage and use than creating and controlling your own listserv. The listserv host is responsible for setting up and maintaining the software. The main configuring you will need to do is to set up an account, add the email addresses of people you want to be included, and check off a list of features you want included in your list. Using a hosted listserv has its benefits in that you do not need to have your own server to deliver your newsletter. It is also very easy to set up and configure whereas configuring your own newsletter list on your own server may require a bit of system administration know-how.

There are free email list servers available too. While you can use these if youíre on a really tight budget, I donít recommend it. First, they stuff their own adverts onto your newsletter. That doesnít just reduce the effectiveness of your brand, it draws attention away from your own ads ó provided you can persuade people to advertise on a newsletter like this. But their privacy policies have also come under a lot of criticism lately and even some of the biggest companies have been found to have used their clientsí lists to market their own goods.

Use Your Own Server

Rather than using a hosted solution, you could run a listserv off your own server. Doing so requires access to a server, listserv software, and a little more computer knowledge than you would need for a hosted listserv (since you will have to install the software and configure the server and software). While some listserv software is free, other packages cost money. However, by installing your own software, you avoid such hassles as having to deal with the banners or advertisements of a free host, being placed on mailing lists, or being at the mercy of the host server. You also have much greater control over every single aspect of the list, instead of having a few select options from which to choose. The most popular listserv packages in this category include Listserv (where most discussion groups derive their name), Majordomo, SmartList, and Listproc.

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I hope my bias is not too overpowering to allow you to make the best decision for your own list.

If youíre going to do a newsletter ó and you should ó if you donít feel comfortable running your own listserv, itís probably worth investing in a professional service. That is, after all, what youíre offering.

In conclusion, newsletters then are one of the most effective ways to keep customers, and keep your revenue flowing in. They remind people youíre still out there, provide news about deals and bargains, and give customers the confidence to buy. You can put them together in a snap, or even pay someone a pretty small fee to do it for you. If you sell advertising space on your newsletter, youíll even find each issue will pay for itself.

warmly,

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