email software advice
Email Newsletter Software
Should I create my newsletter in a word processor or
email program? Which email program should I use?
Those two questions came from a visitor to the Manager's
Guide to Newsletters website. She planned to start an email newsletter that
would go to parents of students at her school and wanted to know about the
software she would need.
In response, we'll look at these two important questions
for newsletter publishers.
Word processor or email program? This can be one of the simpler issues,
at least if your mailing list is not too large at start-up. You can write
your newsletter in any email program, or any word processor that allows you
to save your work as plain text (ASCII). Most writers prefer to use a word
processing program for at least the first draft, since it provides more text
manipulation features and saving options.
Once you've written, rewritten, spellchecked, and proofread your
newsletter in the word processor, copy and paste it into the body of your
email program (we'll discuss how to handle that text in the next article in
Of course, you'll need an email program of some kind to send out your
newsletter, regardless of where you wrote it. Among email programs, check
both those stand- alone programs and those integrated with browsers.
The most common program is Outlook Express, which comes bundled with
Internet Explorer, and that in turn comes bundled with Windows. But, don't
overlook the possibilities in the Netscape and Opera suites. In addition,
there's also a new challenger, Mozilla Thunderbird, which is associated with
the Firefox browser.
Turning to stand-alone email programs, take a look at Eudora (which
offers an advertising-supported version and a version you can buy). It has a
solid reputation among many email newsletter publishers, and I consider it
the best all-purpose email client for my PC (however, I don't like it on my
Mac, where I use the built-in program, Mail).
I've used all of these programs at one time or another, and each has
advantages and disadvantages. In considering them, review the strengths and
weaknesses of their address books as well as their message composition
Once your mailing list grows beyond a certain point (depending on your
personal inclinations), you'll need to move it out of the email program and
into something more flexible.
In my case, once the list got to something like a hundred subscribers, I
found the management of it frustrating. For example, adding and deleting
email addresses from an email program takes more time and trouble than doing
it in a word processing program or, on a more sophisticated level again, a
In managing a list of several thousand, I use the Find feature to quickly
pick out and delete someone who wants to unsubscribe. Similarly, it's easy
to get the list back into alphabetical order at any time by using the
sorting feature of a word processing program.
Another growth issue: As your subscriber list grows, you may want to move
away from your email program and use an independent mailing service. In that
case, you go to a provider company and upload your list one time. After
that, you simply paste your newsletter into a form they provide, and click
the Send button. Then, the service sends out your email using its servers.
But, to get started you need only an email program, and you have many
free and worthwhile options. Try each one out for an issue or two of your
newsletter, to find what suits you.
Robert F. Abbott, the author of A Manager's Guide to Newsletters:
Communicating for Results, writes and publishes Abbott's Communication
Letter. Read more articles about Internet communication, as well as email
and printed newsletters at: