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The easiest way to send out an e-mail newsletter is to use your existing e-mail program (such as Microsoft Outlook) and create a group of newsletter recipients within the address book.
This is a very basic way to get your message out to limited number of people. The drawback of using your “regular” e-mail program is that this type of mail program is designed for correspondence with individuals or very small groups, not for broadcast (bulk) e-mailing.
If you send your e-mail newsletter to a growing list of recipients, you’ll find yourself manually updating your mailing list frequently. This is a time-consuming process.
A better option is to use a program designed specifically for e-mail marketing. These programs typically allow easy list management, message creation and delivery. The cost for these programs varies, and some enterprise-level software packages can cost thousands of dollars.
Luckily, affordable desktop solutions are available for use with either Windows or Macintosh operating systems. These programs cost around $100 and usually have a free demo download available. Some of the more useful ones include:
• 110% E-merge ($99), www.handy-productions.com/emerge.php. According to its Web site, this program is an easy-to-use product that allows you to extract recipient information from almost any database or even an Excel spreadsheet.
• G-Lock EasyMail (Standard $40, Professional $99), www.glocksoft.com. G-Lock EasyMail is a fast, powerful yet simple bulk e-mail software designed primarily for applications in which the sender and recipient have an existing relationship, such as a list of patients. The software has features on it to make e-mail list management an easy task.
• Bmail ($95), www.info-pack.com/bmail. The standard version’s list-management features include add, remove, de-duplicate and merge. This program offers free e-mail support.
• Intellimerge (Macintosh-based software) ($80), www.intellisw.com/intellimerge. The New IntelliMerge 3 is the latest version of Intelli Innovations’ e-mail-merge software for Mac OS X and Mac OS 9. It features an integrated message editor, recipient database and e-mail delivery program and allows you to manage contacts and send personalized e-mail newsletters.
Another broadcast option
If desktop management of your newsletter seems like more work than you’d like to take on, Microsoft’s bCentral offers a web-based list manager that performs many of the tasks of a desktop-based program.
The advantage to Web-based service is mainly ease of use. Solutions such as List Builder at bCentral let you eliminate the challenges of managing your e-mail campaign from your desktop.
Microsoft bCentral List Builder is available for $29/mo or $299/yr, at www.bcentral.com/products/lb/default.asp.
Always get permission
Finally, before you send out your first newsletter, here are some additional tips:
• Get permission. Make sure you have written permission from your patients to send them e-mail.
• Include an opt-out feature. Although you are sending your newsletter to patients who have “opted in,” include an “opt out” link. People change their minds. The list-manager software you are using should advise you on setting up this feature so that names are automatically removed upon request.
• Verify new subscribers. By all means, capture new e-mail addresses on your Web site. But verify the e-mail address before sending out your first newsletter. Doing this can keep you from getting on SPAM lists.
• Ask your ISP about bulk e-mailing. Find out if your ISP places limitations on how many e-mails you can send out at one time. Because of attention to SPAMMING, ISPs are sensitive to accounts that exceed their limits.
Chris Petrello is Web master for Chiropractic Economics.