Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Mailing list managers

An update on the Good old fashioned email post - I've now had more than 3,000 people sign up to our mailing list. With that many people on the list I need a mailing list manager. Obviously I'd like to push more of them to our Facebook and Twitter accounts but as Marta said in the comments 'I guess we have to give them what they've signed up to'. They've asked for email. What I want to avoid though is having to reply to lots of emails - so we'll just use it as a channel to push information out - which is why I'd prefer it if they used social media because then the communication can be much more responsive. We can quickly reply to a tweet or a Facebook post and the one-to-many nature of social media means that everybody else can benefit from the answer. With email it's one-to-one and there's no way we're spending time responding to 3,000 questions, many of them probably similar.

So, does anyone know anything about mailing list managers? I think I need to learn about them quickly. We can't use our University CFS system for mailing to such large numbers easily because there's a limit of 1,000 people per email. Also, if we're going to use email then I want people to be able to unsubscribe easily should they want to, again, there's no easy way of doing this with CFS. A good mailing list manager should also give us several other useful features, including easy delivery, tracking and groups that support preferences.

I've heard of MailChimp and it looks good but we'd need to pay for it ($50 a month) because the free accounts are only for up to 1,000 addresses. It also has the potential to integrate with Facebook and Twitter.

Becka told me that they use Majordomo at Bradford. It describes itself as "a program which automates the management of Internet mailing lists. Commands are sent to Majordomo via electronic mail to handle all aspects of list maintenance. "

I've also stumbled across Mailman whic says "Mailman is free software for managing electronic mail discussion and e-newsletter lists. Mailman is integrated with the web, making it easy for users to manage their accounts and for list owners to administer their lists. Mailman supports built-in archiving, automatic bounce processing, content filtering, digest delivery, spam filters, and more."

I'm desperately in need of some advice from this from people who have used such things...


  1. It may not be the best, but it is free

  2. CFS could handle it but I think it would do so badly. I could either batch send the emails 1,000 at a time - but that's cumbersome and v limited. The official mailing list (powered by mailman) is just annoying - as you know from the uolbikeusergroup. Apparently I could turn off the ability for users to reply but I'd rather they could if they wanted to. I really don't want them mistakenly replying to all 3,500 on the list though. Mailchimp is expensive but for a fortnightly email to 3,500, and all the whizzy features including social stuff and reports, I think it might be worth it. Will let you know. Mailchimp also has a nice freemium for ,1,000 addresses - would be good for your PTFA I would think...

  3. My friend says: 'I use Mailchimp - more than happy with it, it's really easy to use. The templates are a bit basic and not very flexible, but you can still produce some professional looking results. Dead cheap too. I have just under 2000 email addresses. Works with Twitter, Facebook and Google Analytics too. HTH' Good point about PTA, school uses parentmail, so we push our stuff out through there, but it may be worth considering something with a little more interactivity!