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Monday, February 8, 2010

Email Newsletter Distribution And Mailing Services: Guide To The Best Free Online Solutions

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Communicating via email in a direct, intimate and informal way remains one of the best ways to market and promote your content, services and products online. This is why the most effective online businesses still rely on crafting quality newsletters and email updates to keep their fans and customers updated, entertained and happy. In this MasterNewMedia guide you will find the best free email newsletter distribution and mailing services available out there, as well as complementary information to help you identify and select your ideal one.

Photo credit: Alex Kalmbach

Email newsletter distribution services are very easy to use, because, if you already know how to use email, you already know most of what you will need to prepare an effective email newsletter. What is new is that through your email newsletter you need to keep writing and sharing in the same way you did with your email friends and contacts, and not as if you were publishing an international magazine.

You need to be personal, intimate and you need to always offer great value. Not just promotion for your content or products. That doesn't cut it. You need to meet the needs of your audience and find a writing style that will make your fans read your newsletter as if it were from a true friend.

Here are two interesting statistical figures that should help you realize the importance that marketers and retailers still attribute to email newsletters for online direct marketing purposes:

  • 88% of retailers listed email as a high priority for the year, largely to retain customers. - Forrester Research and "Retailing Online 2009: Marketing Report"
  • 89% of retailers cited email as the most mentioned successful tactic overall. - Forrester Research and "Retailing Online 2009: Marketing Report"

As long as you have understood how critical is today to have a "conversation" with your audience, the reasons why email newsletters are such a great way to keep in touch with it should be pretty clear. But, how do you go about selecting an email newsletter distribution service and what features and traits do characterize these offerings?

Generally, these newsletter distribution services are characterized by this set of basic features:

  • List Management: You can create mailing lists to organize contacts who will receive your newsletter and you can also handle subscribes and unsubscribes.
  • Scheduling: You can schedule precise times and dates when your newsletter will be sent.
  • Autoresponders: You can design a set of email content templates which are automatically sent when your subscribers perform specific actions. For example, if a reader subscribes to your newsletter, she will receive a "Thank you" email in return, or an email which introduces her to your latest story and offerings.
  • Support: You receive assistance in the form of tutorials or support forums, to learn how to manage your email marketing campaigns efficiently, and oftentimes the service you choose will even share with you how to maximize your efforts when planning your email campaign.

While these are just some of the basic features that all free email newsletter distribution services support, there are more specific features that really differentiate some of these services from the others.

To help you identify the best free email newsletter distribution service for your needs, I have setup here below a set of comparative tables and individual reviews to help you check and identify your ideal solution.

Here are the specific selection criteria used to compare these different services:

  • Mailing list import: Upload of an existing mailing list to the selected email newsletter distribution service.
  • HTML + text: Type of newsletter you can send: plain text or HTML-rich message.
  • Max No. of subscribers: Limit of subscribers that the selected service will handle inside your mailing list.
  • Max. No. of newsletters: Maximum number of newsletters you can send per month or per day.
  • Embed sign-up form: Custom registration form that you can place on your web site to help readers subscribe to your newsletter.
  • Analytics: Reports and statistics about the performance of your HTML newsletter. Subscribes, unsubscribes, opened emails, etc.
  • Pre-made templates: Readily-available templates that you can use to style your newsletter.



Free Email Newsletter Distribution and Mailing Services - Comparative Tables


Free Email Newsletter Distribution and Mailing Services

  1. MailChimp

    MailChimp is an online service that will allow you to create and manage mailing lists to send a newsletter. With the free account you can handle up to 500 subscribers and send up to 3000 emails per month. If you already have a mailing list, you can import it into MailChimp. The newsletter can either be created in plain text or HTML format. To get started quickly, you have a large set of 101 free readily-available email templates or, if you prefer, you can design and upload your own code. To collect readers to your newsletter, you can also embed a sign-up form on your website which will be completely managed by MailChimp. A facility to convert the RSS feed of your blog or website into a newsletter is also available. Other features include autoresponders, audience segmentation tools to target your newsletter to selected groups of recipients, Google Analytics integration, spam filter, and much more.

  2. ContactPro

    ContactPro provides an online newsletter distribution service to create, manage and send email newsletters. With the free account of ContactPro you can manage up to 100 subscribers and unlimited newsletters per day. The import feature allows you to add an existing mailing list you already have and start from there. You can write your newsletters either in plain text or using HTML code. ContactPro is also able to track and monitor your emails to report how many have opened and read your newsletter, how many have subscribed / unsubscribed and other relevant information for your marketing campaign. Pre-made newsletter templates are available to help you style your message, but you can always use your own layout. You can also create custom embeddable sign-up forms to allow readers to subscribe on your web site pages. ContactPro uses a spam filter to help you test your newsletter before sending, so you can be pretty sure that your e.mails will reach the inbox of your recipients without being inadvertently dumped inside the spam folder.

  3. Bravenet Mailing List Manager

    Bravenet Mailing List Manager is a free online service to create, handle and send email newsletters. You can manage up to 500 subscribers and send one newsletter per day. You can freely import your existing mailing lists from another service or software. To compose your newsletter you can either choose to use plain text or HTML. To style your newsletter, there are several readily-available templates you can choose from. HTML newsletters will also be tracked by Bravenet so you can monitor who opened your email, who subscribed, who unsubscribed, etc. Other features include: ban an IP address, create a thank you page, create a goodbye page and much more. To facilitate new readers to subscribe to your newsletter, you can embed a sign-up form on your website, which is completely hosted and managed by Bravenet.

  4. Comm100 Newsletter

    Com100 Newsletter is an online open-source newsletter service that you can use for email marketing purposes. Completely free to use, Comm100 Newsletter allows you to handle unlimited subscribers and to send unlimited newsletters per day. The import function allows you to manage existing mailing lists you have. Each email newsletter can either be written in plain text or HTML. HTML newsletters can also be monitored and tracked to know who opens your email, when, who unsubscribes, etc. Pre-made templates are also available to help you style your newsletter. To allow readers to sign up for your newsletter subscribers, Com100 provides you with a simple-to-use embeddable sign-up form, which you can place on your web site pages.

  5. YourMailingListProvider

    YourMailingListProvider is a free online newsletter distribution service. The service allows you to create your newsletter, manage up to 1000 subscribers and send a maximum of one newsletter per day. You can decide to create plain text newsletters or HTML-rich emails, also taking advantage of a set of pre-made templates. Features to import a mailing list and to monitor the performance of your newsletter are not available, nor an embeddable sign-up form for your web site readers.

Originally prepared by Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on February 8th, 2010 as "Email Newsletter Distribution And Mailing Services: Guide To The Best Free Online Solutions".

Daniele Bazzano -
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Monday, February 8 2010, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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