Years ago, I used to be a more-active webhosting reseller, but then I shut down my little side-business and decided to only continue to host and manage a couple of local non-profit groups I was involved in.
Recently, I took over the site for another such group... a small, struggling, local business association. And I really want to help them out as much as possible.
Their website design was atrocious, so I overhauled that and made it more professional-looking. They're pretty stoked about that.
And then I set them up some MAILMAN mailing lists (because all my sites are hosted with a CPanel reseller and that's what I've always used for years).
However, recently, I've been rethinking MAILMAN. The only other site I have where the mailing lists get used much is a local garden club. And while their newsletter editor knows enough to send out a monthly newsletter, requests to manually subscribe and unsubscribe people still come to me (which is mildly annoying). I just used to blame it on the fact that most of their members are old and non-technical.
But the members of this business association are mostly in their 30s and 40s. And, despite the fact that I created two members-only MAILMAN mailing lists for them (one for one-way official "news" broadcasts to the group, the other for internal discussions between everybody), I'm seeing something troubling: The president continues to send emails out from her Outlook, cutting-and-pasting everybody's addresses manually, I'm betting... despite the fact that I keep telling her "here, it's much easier to send to this one address". (And if you can't get the President on-board, it's kinda hard to get the rest of the people on-board.)
Now... hold that thought for a moment, switching gears:
Two years ago, I had switched from a somewhat expensive-for-the-space-you-get hosting company to a much cheaper one. But in the past 6 weeks, I've found my emails being blocked by one big-time-provider or another. The first time, I paid to be put on my own IP address (something I forgot about when I moved over two years ago). The second time, the host gave me a list of AOL addresses that somebody on my domains was supposedly emailing to. I was annoyed because he couldn't tell me WHAT email address or specific domain they had supposedly come from.. and I had quickly looked up all mailing list subscriber lists for all of my sites... and found none of those AOL addresses in there. Anyways, my host said he did not have that technical info anywhere... and basically told me to host somewhere else.
So, I just signed up with my OLD provider again the other day and I'm about to move the accounts over. So, this is another reason I'm thinking about mailing lists this morning: I get tired of being accused of being a spammer, given that our biggest mailing list to date has maybe 50 members getting one email per month. (With all of the non-profits I host, they never really wanted their own email accounts for their domains. So, I've got one or two set up for myself only on each. So I'm the only one possibly sending out from those email addresses.)
My calendar app made me think of Google. I LOVE Google Calendar. And I recently set up a Google Calendar for the business association... and it's even pulling in data from one of the business' own Google Calendars.
So THAT got me thinking: Maybe I should migrate all these MAILMAN mailing lists off to Google Groups ?? But I did some reading on that and it seems like your group GETTING SPAM is a big issue (plus privacy vs. the government concerns, but I'm not sure how much members would care about that). Is there anybody here who's a Google Group moderator or has been one who can speak to that ??
Our needs are for:
a) Private internal discussion lists
b) Private internal "one-way-broadcast" style lists
c) Public "marketing style" newsletter mailing lists
I did read one person's comment that Google Groups is good for PRIVATE lists, but that it's the PUBLIC ones that get so many spammer attacks ?
I guess I'm hoping I'll run into some webmasters who've dealt with these issues with small businesses and other groups who can tell me what they've done regarding such mailing list solutions. And it seems to me that "ease of use" is going to be of huge importance, since I'm dealing with people who aren't very technical. Plus, of course, we're talking about small non-profits here, so FREE or dirt-cheap is required.
-= Dave =-
You can help stop spammers faking emails from your domain by setting up DKIM and or SPF records.
It's always a tricky issue to send out emails to a large number of people, as it can make you look like a spammer. I'd suggest hooking up with a service like CamPaign Monitor or MailChimp (the latter available completely free, at some level) as they are recognized mailout services. They also provide a lot of other tools that make mailouts much easier and more efficient.
The group communication sounds like a separate issue to me.
A quick note is that if you build your mailing lists by yourself, you are a spammer. People should voluntarily sign up to a mailing list. So you should be careful here.
The only lists I've "built myself" have been where I'm transferring a list from one host to another, so I have to manually create the new subscriber list from the old one. That and the one for the organization where I had permission. In theory, I suppose one bad apple could complain (there are only 25 on the list), but nobody has so far and they're all paid members to the organization.
Yep, I've made sure that's in place on all my accounts.
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