Use an Email Service? or Run Your Own Bulk Email Software?

24 replies
I am working on a new app that will have subscribers who will be getting a specialized form of newsletter each week and a "special" post once a month - so about a total of 5 emails a month. I realize that there are several options for bulk email out there (Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.) and this is a double opt in application, so every user will know up front that they will be receiving these emails.

There are several stand alone Bulk Email software systems that can be run for this, which include options such as poMMo (no longer supported, but still viable), and several others both open-source, free, and for sale.

Considering the double opt-in, I am leaning toward using my own software but wanted the opinion of you Warriors as to what would be the best option. So to that end I am taking a poll "Use a Bulk Mail Service?" or "Use a Bulk Mail Software".

Thanks for your responses!

-DTM
#email #run #service #software
  • Profile picture of the author Phillip M King
    My personal opinion is to farm out as much as possible for two reasons:
    1. Less hassle for you
    2. External providers usually have far more capabilities than you if a problem develops
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    • Profile picture of the author David McKee
      Originally Posted by Phillip M King View Post

      My personal opinion is to farm out as much as possible for two reasons:
      1. Less hassle for you
      2. External providers usually have far more capabilities than you if a problem develops
      That is true, and MailChimp does offer 2000 free subscribers and up to 12,000 emails a month so that is 6 emails each which meets my needs, however their prices go up fast after that. If I want to continue sending 5 emails to my 2001 customers, I then start paying $150/mo. The app had better be paying for itself at that point. On the other hand if I run my own, no limits - just the hassle of email-gateways refusing my email even though I am double opted.

      Hence the poll....!

      Thanks Phillip.
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  • Profile picture of the author Zack Lim
    Hi David,

    I think it will still be better to use the external email services as they are the expert in mass emailing and getting your emails into the subscribers' inbox.

    I have mess around by purchasing an autoresponder script and hosting it on own server. It is a total nightmare as the email delivery rate is low and most of the emails went to the junk folder.

    You definitely do not want this nightmare to happen to you too.

    Zack
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  • Profile picture of the author Zack Lim
    Hi David,

    I personally use Getresponse. There are many reasons why most marketers recommend Aweber and Getresponse. The most important reason is because it has worked for many marketers

    Zack
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  • Profile picture of the author spearce000
    As long as your server is up to the job - and mailing scripts can use up an awful lot of bandwidth - there's nothing wrong with using your own autoresponder/ bulk e-mail script. I've been hosting my own autoresponders for years. As long as everyone is double opted-in, there aren't usually any problems that an exchange of e-mails can't sort out. It helps to have your own IP address BTW.

    I used to use Infinite Responder, but it didn't run on my latest website and seems to have been abandoned buy its creator. I'm using Parabots on my latest site: Parabots Autoresponder System (not an affiliate link).
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    • Profile picture of the author David McKee
      Originally Posted by spearce000 View Post

      ...I used to use Infinite Responder, but it didn't run on my latest website and seems to have been abandoned buy its creator. I'm using Parabots on my latest site: Parabots Autoresponder System (not an affiliate link).
      Parabots looks good at first glance. I have used poMMo in the past, but I am worried now that it is no longer maintained. What I like about the self run solution is that I have full control and no "limits" - however as mentioned here by others, the issues with frivolous spam complaints, etc. could certainly make life difficult, not to mention that the services work hard to remove IP blocks and other gateway problems from getting in the way. I guess it may come down to what the monetization model is and how much I might be losing by not using a service.

      Thanks Spearce!
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      • Profile picture of the author Shaun OReilly
        Originally Posted by David McKee View Post

        What I like about the self run solution is that I have full control and no "limits" - however as mentioned here by others, the issues with frivolous spam complaints, etc. could certainly make life difficult, not to mention that the services work hard to remove IP blocks and other gateway problems from getting in the way. I guess it may come down to what the monetization model is and how much I might be losing by not using a service.
        There's another option that allows you to have a self-hosted
        autoresponder (so you have CONTROL) and an external SMTP
        server (so that THEY manage the deliverability issues).

        You can buy self-hosted autoresponder software such as
        Interspire (no affil.), ActiveCampaign (no affil.), etc that
        allow you to either send e-mail from your own server or
        external SMTP servers such as smtp.com, authsmtp.com,
        etc.

        It really depends upon how technical you are (or if you can
        outsource the task).

        I prefer this option because I have full CONTROL of the most
        important asset in my business - my lists - and don't get tied
        to any third-party autoresponder service. Nor am I bound by
        their Terms of Service and I've got a lot more choices on
        which servers my e-mails get sent from.

        Dedicated to mutual success,

        Shaun
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        • Profile picture of the author spearce000
          Originally Posted by Shaun OReilly View Post

          I prefer this option because I have full CONTROL of the most
          important asset in my business - my lists - and don't get tied
          to any third-party autoresponder service. Nor am I bound by
          their Terms of Service and I've got a lot more choices on
          which servers my e-mails get sent from.
          Which is precisely why I prefer to go with my own hosted script rather than a service.

          Shaun, thanks for the tip about external SMTP servers. I had no idea such services existed.

          David, don't worry too much about frivolous spam complaints. They don't happen very often, and they can usually be resolved very quickly by contacting the offended ISP or mail provider and proving that the person really did sign up. In fact, you're more exposed to spam complaints when you use a service. Most operate a "zero tolerance" policy - which means any complaints and they're likely to shut your account and tell you to take your business elsewhere - deleting your list in the process. As for IP blocks, as long as you have your own (clean) IP address, this shouldn't be an issue.

          Sadly, in my view, a lot of services use scare tactics to put you off using your own autoresponders.
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        • Profile picture of the author David McKee
          Originally Posted by Shaun OReilly View Post

          There's another option that allows you to have a self-hosted
          autoresponder (so you have CONTROL) and an external SMTP
          server (so that THEY manage the deliverability issues).

          You can buy self-hosted autoresponder software such as
          Interspire (no affil.), ActiveCampaign (no affil.), etc that
          allow you to either send e-mail from your own server or
          external SMTP servers such as smtp.com, authsmtp.com,
          etc.

          It really depends upon how technical you are (or if you can
          outsource the task).

          I prefer this option because I have full CONTROL of the most
          important asset in my business - my lists - and don't get tied
          to any third-party autoresponder service. Nor am I bound by
          their Terms of Service and I've got a lot more choices on
          which servers my e-mails get sent from.

          Dedicated to mutual success,

          Shaun
          Thank you Shaun! You nailed it when you mention the "Most Valuable Asset" as the List, which frankly, these services could essentially steal from me. They are certainly going to attempt to monetize their services through my list and that is, as you mention, a loss of control.

          This is certainly another option of which I was not aware. I have the tech chops - I have been a software engineer for 27 years so that is not an issue - time is always an issue of course, but hey who needs to sleep? there will be time enough for that when I'm dead.

          Thanks again.
          -DTM
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  • Profile picture of the author Ash R
    Depends on your skill level, though I find that you want to eliminate tasks as time goes on - so running your own service will definitely be a hassle. I'm happy to spend on a good autoresponder service, one major reason being that known AR's get higher inboxing rates.
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    Don't sweat the small stuff :)
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  • Unless you are doing massive mailing you likely will not be able to run a cheaper server. You probably won't have the skillset/experience to make sure the mail actually goes out and more importantly gets through and not killed by spam filters.

    Focus on your core competency. If the $150 doesn't work out for you then the idea is probably not so great and you can at least kill it off. Buying hardware and subscribing to your own bandwidth can cost a lot up front.

    I thought about running my own servers years ago and a T1 and it just never worked out to make sense for small business.
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    • Profile picture of the author David McKee
      Originally Posted by InternetMarketingIQ View Post

      Unless you are doing massive mailing you likely will not be able to run a cheaper server. You probably won't have the skillset/experience to make sure the mail actually goes out and more importantly gets through and not killed by spam filters.

      Focus on your core competency. If the $150 doesn't work out for you then the idea is probably not so great and you can at least kill it off. Buying hardware and subscribing to your own bandwidth can cost a lot up front.

      I thought about running my own servers years ago and a T1 and it just never worked out to make sense for small business.
      I hear you, but I have successfully run poMMo in the past (Damn I wish someone would take that up and upgrade it, it was awesome in it's day, but showing age now that it has just been sitting there). I ran up a list of about 5000 names, and that was on a shared hosting site - I did it by not being stupid and trying to blart out the whole list in one giant gulp, but by dribbling it at a nice rate.

      Thing is, my concerns about the tighter controls, CAN-SPAM, etc. even with double opt in and such. So that is why I decided to do this poll and get your inputs.

      Also, I always run my campaigns on a shoestring - I believe that an idea should generate the money it needs to run - so there will be no T1 until it can pay for it.

      Thanks again!
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  • Profile picture of the author mvideo
    I prefer bulk email service . I m on shared hosting and my host do not allow me to send bulk emails to users . therefore i have to move to the bulk email service provider.

    right now i m using mailchimp.com
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  • Profile picture of the author David McKee
    Well so far things appear to be fairly evenly split between the two options. There is not much data however...
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  • Profile picture of the author GeckoTribe
    A long time ago, I used my own home-brew system to maintain my mailing lists. Now I use AWeber. Each has its advantages.

    The home-brew system was cheaper, obviously. But every time I sent a broadcast to a mid-size list, it kept my server busy delivering emails and handling bounces for quite a while. Getting rid of that problem was a huge benefit of going to AWeber.

    Lately, I've been wanting to do some complex stuff that AWeber can't easily handle (heavily customizing exactly what I send to each subscriber based on what they've purchased from me, which of my free stuff they've opted in for, etc.) So I'm considering building myself a system again. Only this time, I'd run all deliveries through something like Amazon's SES.

    For me, the bottom line is that you don't want your server handling delivery. Beyond that, it's a question of how much control you need.
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
    David,

    If you go with a self-hosted system, I'd recommend checking out AutoResponse Plus as one of your options. Solid software, with excellent support. Make it a point to learn proper list management if you go with any self-hosted solution.

    If you do that, make sure you have a dedicated IP address for the system sending the mail. You'll find that some services will assign you a low reputation at first, so don't be surprised if places like Hotmail spambin the mail early on. Stick to your schedule, remove hard bounces, and make sure the content gets interaction from your recipients. The score will rise over time.

    Also, make sure you know the sending limits allowed by your host. I have a dedicated machine that allows me to send as much mail as I want, as long as I don't generate spam complaints. Another is limited to 5000 messages per hour. I have a couple of hobby sites on shared hosting accounts that couldn't send more than 100 emails per day. (They generate zero outbound mail, so that doesn't matter.)

    Using a service like smtp.com can reduce the server load a lot, especially if the machine hasn't been tuned for sending large volumes. Very few are.

    With a confirmed opt-in system, you're unlikely to generate a lot of spam complaints in most niches. If it happens, though, you won't get much love from the providers who might end up blocking you unless you handle the hoops they want you to jump through. Those are where the paid services like Aweber can shine. They're already set up for feedback loops and the like. And they have contacts at the various reputation system providers, so they can generally get issues resolved fairly quickly that most people couldn't even find a channel to address.


    Paul
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    • Profile picture of the author myob
      I have been using autoresponseplus for many years on a dedicated server, for the sole reason my lists are so huge. However, unless there is really such a compelling reason, commercial email services may be the best option for most service applications.
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  • Profile picture of the author JerrickYeoh
    Through Google Insight you can see that people search for Bulk Mail Software rather than Bulk Mail Service.
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  • Profile picture of the author majick
    Bit of an old thread, but if anyones still looking, I've done a port of Infinity Responder into a Wordpress plugin, with many bugfixes, improvements and features added. :-)

    WP Infinity Responder (still free!)
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