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Mailing lists, newsletters, and other mass communiques

Posted on December 21, 2010 by ari

Having a good mailing list can be a great way to communicate with folks who don’t like Facebook or who enjoy the editorial touch of a newsletter. Here are some of the best options out there for activists and non-profits and other folks looking for progressive and/or low-cost and free mailing list solutions.

The Apes Win
MailChimp

  • Free for lists below 1,000 subscribers
  • Gives you stats on how many people opened your mail, what they clicked on, etc.
  • Can have multiple lists
  • Produces HTML and text versions
  • Can auto-post to Facebook upon send, or enable Facebook Comments; can auto-tweet upon send
  • Subscriber list can be easily downloaded (.csv file)

(Basically) fee for 501c3s
Vertical Response

  • 10,000 messages free with non-profit status or fiscal sponsorship, then charges if you go over
  • Gives you stats on how many people opened your mail, what they clicked on, etc.
  • Can have multiple lists
  • Produces HTML and text versions
  • Subscriber list can be easily downloaded in several formats

The Radical Solution
Aktivix Mailman Lists

  • Organization is radical and progressive and anti-capitalist
  • Lists can get as long as you like and you can send as much mail as you like, no limits, no fees
  • Messages are plain text, very low-tech
  • Not as pretty and without all the great reporting features
  • See an example sign-up link on this page. You could make a pretty button instead of a text link if you wanted.

Easy Discussion Lists
Not as robust or useful as the other solutions here, but a quick way to set up a discussion list with filesharing capability. Keep in mind that these sites are owned and administered by private companies and as such have questionable privacy and copyright policies.

The Musician’s Friend
MySpace
Tell people to friend you and then you can send them updates via the site. They don’t provide a form for your website but you can make a button people can click to friend you.

And of course, sometimes the best solution is the one that comes for free with your web hosting package, since it may come with tech support as well – ask your host if they have a mass emailing program you can use.

Which mailing service fits your politics and your tech needs? Are there others you’d recommend? Please tell us about them!

Why use a mailing list service?
If you’re sending emails to a lot of people you may want to consider using a mailing list service such as those discussed above. Here are some reasons why:

  • Avoid becoming blacklisted as a spammer, among other indignities. Using newsletter software routes emails and marks them in such a way that they (and future messages) are more likely to arrive at their intended destination.
  • The system will handle bounces and autoresponses caused by people’s vacation messages and out of date email addresses.
  • Depending on the service, people can usually unsubscribe or change their preferences on their own without needing your help.
  • Some services provide sign-up forms that can make it easier for you to encourage signups.

See also:

Related posts:

  1. Communicating with supporters: How often and when?
  2. A great animated film about Critical Mass

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