The issue of using software or a 3rd party to do mailings can be a difficult choice.
For those who are trying to sort out the issues, a couple of thoughts:
* Are you technically inclined? Understand in using software either on your computer or on your web host requires some basic knowledge and the ability to deal with computer related issues in the event problems arise.
* Are you prepared to take the time and energy to learn the rules of the road to ensure email delivery? The major internet service providers have their own rules and in doing mailings you need to know and learn how to comply with these rules. Relatively easy if you are technically inclined.
* Are you prepared to deal with spam complaints and unwinding any difficult situations? If you do the mailings yourself, you have to deal directly with the situation. On the other hand, if you are using a reputable 3rd party provider and follow the rules set by the provider, it becomes their problem to go to bat for you.
For permission based publishers, the situation can be especially troubling when for example: (i) the person complaining had notice upon subscribing of what she was going to be receiving, (given your posted dislaimer) and confirmed her willingness to join the mailing list, but still proceeds to file an anonymous complaint with one of the blocking services; or (ii) the person complains about receiving a confirmation notice after subscribing, but before confirming.
* The Internet service providers, in an effort to control the onslaught of unsolicited bulk mail, have put in place all sorts of controls (filters) and unfortunately, permission based marketers are getting caught in the cross-fire.
A study by Return Path as reported in the online media for the second half of last year suggests up to 19% of solicited emails are being blocked, due primarily to problems with false positives in filters.
The false positive issue is particularly troubling if many of the people on your list subscribe using their office email address.
You can reduce these issues in part by:
* Sending out messages in text versus html (although this may be a problem given your business model);
* Running a "spamminess" check on your message;
* Simply sending out notice of publication (a teaser) with a link to the full issue being posted online, or following up the publication of the full issue with a notice of online publication;
* Asking your subscribers to white list or safelist your from email address; and
* Giving subscribers the option of subscribing via an RSS feed, (which is something I am about to add myself, now that I have better handle on the issue - you want to assist people who are not familiar with the process in learning how to access an RSS feed) so side stepping the issue all together.
At least one 3rd party email service provider is now offering their customers the ability to set up an RSS feed based on the mailings sent to your list. There is at least one service provider geared to the micro-business market which is offering a total solution.
In choosing a 3rd party provider, some do get excellent delivery rates, even those who offer pricing based on the number of subscribers versus charging per email.
Read the terms of service closely. This will give you an idea of the organizations views. Note: - the good services will require you to reverify your list and will monitor the level of problems when importing lists. Using this approach helps to control problems.
Ask for an indication of delivery rates. Check the information you receive with others.
(Purchasing the delivery report by Marketing Sherpa may or may not make sense depending on your list size, audience and budget for a service provider. Generally speaking Marketing Sherpa's products are good. However, the target market is the small, medium and large business, meaning the information is not focused solely on the home office business.)
* Depending on the volume of email and size of your list, presuming you are following good email practices, you may want to consider becoming a trusted sender. Some frown at this and there is no guarantee of enhanced delivery, but ... in today's environment it is worth considering.
Trusting these comments are of value.
Edited by John_Glube, 27 March 2004 - 04:13 PM.