Email Marketing Software
Keeping Costs Down With an In-House Solution
GroupMail offers an intuitive, easy-to-understand interface.
Businesses dismayed by the monthly (and often continuously rising) costs of online email marketing providers have a cost-effective solution: Pay once for email marketing software that can run in-house and forget all the other costs.
Granted, online email marketing providers such as MailChimp (https://mailchimp.com), Campaigner (www.campaigner.com) and Pardot (www.pardot.com) make it simple to start email marketing—often in a matter of minutes. But more than a few businesses have been turned off by the monthly charges those online service providers levy, which often increase as your business starts sending more emails
In contrast, buying email marketing software that you run on your own computer enables you to pay a one-time fee for email marketing—often less than $250. Moreover, running your own email marketing software in-house safeguards you against Sudden Shutdown Syndrome—that moment when a few people unfairly characterize you as a spammer and trigger your email marketing service provider to instantly freeze your email campaign. Of course, even if you’re innocent of the spam accusations, the result is the same: Your email services provider shuts you down instantly.
Still another benefit: In-house email marketing software enables you to keep your customer mailing list completely private—no sharing with an email services provider. And you’re often able to cherry-pick advanced email marketing options you may like only when you really need them, such as the tracking of email opens, click-throughs and confirmed sales.
Fortunately, there are a number of email marketing software packages you can choose from that have long-standing track records for reliability, excellent features and extremely professional support. Just be sure with any solution you choose that you run the software on your own in-house mail server (see the September 2018 SEMA News article “Breaking Free: Reaching More Customers With Your Own Email Server”).
The reason: Generally speaking, companies receiving email from a company running its own mail server are much more likely to believe that you’re a legitimate email sender rather than a spammer. (Spammers often grab email software and start sending spam directly from their PCs.)
When researching email servers, you may come across claims that bringing an email server in-house is extremely complicated and requires expensive software. Those stories are myths. In fact, you can run an extremely inexpensive email server in your company or office using Postfix
(www.postfix.org), a free open source program that runs on everyday Linux software such as Unbuntu (www.ubuntu.com), which is also free. Moreover, you can use other free, open source programs such as ClamAV (www.clamav.net) to add virus protection to your server. And you can use yet another open source software program, Dovecot (www.dovecot.org), to easily import any emails you receive on your mail server into Outlook and other common email programs.
Even better: Given that we live in a global economy where you can hire IT talent anyplace there are keyboards and internet access, you can hire a Postfix/Linux/Dovecot/ClamAV specialist to do a complete installation of your mail server at an extremely modest cost. I personally had a mail server installed on an old duo-core Pentium I had handy (worth less than $100 on the used market these days) by a Linux expert overseas. He dialed into my PC over the internet and did the entire installation for $150. The mail server has been running for six months now and has needed no maintenance whatsoever.
You’ll find that there are plenty of IT experts available to do the installation of your Postfix mail server at similar rates. Check job sites such as Upwork (www.upwork.com), Flexjobs (www.flexjobs.com) and SimplyHired (www.simplyhired.com).
Bottom line: As long as you have an old PC you can use as your mail server—and as long as you have another desktop or laptop PC that you can use for your email marketing software—you can say goodbye to monthly email marketing charges for good. Below are a few excellent email marketing packages to consider.
GroupMail (www.group-mail.com), starts at $149: An industry stalwart that has been around for years, GroupMail is a reliable, easy-to-use program that you can get the hang of in an hour or two. Setting up GroupMail to send emails is similar to setting up a mail account in Outlook. Then its simply a matter of creating a list of email addresses that you’d like to send to, or importing an email list you may have stored in Microsoft Excel or a similar program.
The entry-level version of GroupMail offers more than 100 templates you can use to get just the right look for the email or e-newsletter you want to send. And it comes equipped with a spam-analysis tool to help you highlight and remove any element of your email that inadvertently makes it look like spam.
Email Hunter—a cool tool included with Atomic Email Studio—enables you to quickly find email addresses on the web, Facebook, LinkedIn and similar web properties.
GroupMail also enables you to quickly search through your mail list and make modifications to any contact you have, and the program interfaces easily with your mail server and with Microsoft OneDrive, so you can store, sync and access your GroupMail data at other locations and on other devices. For an additional charge, you can add email tracking to analyze opens, click-throughs and sales.
Atomic Email Studio (www.atompark.com/email-marketing-system), $229: Atomic Email works very similarly to GroupMail, and choosing between the two is often based on which graphic interface you personally prefer.
Like GroupMail, Atomic Email Studio has been around for years, is very easy to set up, and is extremely reliable. Atomic also offers plenty of templates you can use to create the right look for you email or e-newsletter. And it also offers a spam-analysis tool to help you rid your email of any elements that look like spam.
One of the program’s coolest tools is SMTP Wizard, which enables you to easily connect Atomic Email Studio with your mail server by entering as few as seven data inputs. Essentially, SMTP Wizard will save you a lot of time.
Also very cool is Atomic’s Email Hunter, which is an extremely powerful tool that enables you to lift email addresses buried deep within websites, Facebook pages, LinkedIn, Yelp, the global WHOIS database, online news groups and similar web properties. For example, if someone gives you his or her email address on a business card and you lose it, you can use Email Hunter to visit that contact’s website and retrieve the email address there. In fact, Email Hunter can often find an email address that’s not published on the company website but is buried in the electronic guts of the website.
Atomic also comes with Atomic Email Logger, which auto-extracts email addresses that are buried in your computer. And the company offers 24/7 chat support (www.massmailsoftware.com/support), which is especially handy when you’re ready to start your first campaign at 3:00 a.m. and need one last question answered.
For an additional charge, you can also add email tracking to Atomic Email Studio, which analyzes opens, click-throughs and sales.
Sendblaster (www.sendblaster.com), $129: A good program for businesses on a budget, Sendblaster offers a stripped-down version of what GroupMail and Atomic Email Studio offer. You can add a drag-and-drop e-newsletter creator to the package, but that will cost you an additional $99. And if you’re looking for email templates, that runs an additional $59 for 300-plus templates.
One of Sendblaster’s coolest tools is a segmenter, which enables you to divide your mailing list into subgroups based on various rules the program allows you implement.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.