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Managing an E-Zine

Rob Sherman

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Here was my question:

If you have a Ezine, and a place on your site where people can subscribe, what service do you use to service these subscribers? Do you use an Internet service designed specifically for listservs? (We want something more sophisticated than eGroups.) Or do you use another source? What are the costs and how reliable are they? I would like the software send a message immediately to the subscriber when they subscribe (an auto responder) and then I would provide the newsletter to the resource for distribution twice a month. Who maintains the list? Is there any possibility that you could lose the list if it is maintain by an Internet resource?

-- Roger E. Herman, CSP, CMC

For years, we have used Databack Systems, based in Oregon. Byron Lunz runs it. We have half a dozen different e-zines on his systems -- he has more than one way to manage a list. He is a delight to work with, and his systems work beautifully. Fees are reasonable, especially to have his expertise available.

We send out a welcome letter and a farewell letter. We post future distributions on a Web site on his system and they go out automatically without us having to worry. Subscribers sign on through our Web site, or we can put them on via the Web or by e-mail. I get daily reports that tell me who subscribed, who unsubscribed, and who was removed automatically because our messages bounced two weeks in a row.

You can reach Byron at bklunz@databack.com or 503/312-1879. We highly recommend him.

-- Richard Hadden, CSP

I use mail-list.com. Costs me about $120/yr I think. I love it. The phone number is 713/627-9600. They're in Houston. Mark McCreary runs it. I think it's a couple of guys in a home office, and their Web site is not impressive, but their service is second to none, and it does what you described, and it works great.

-- Mike Foti

Although I'm not an expert in this area I know someone who is. His name is Andrew Wood and he is a marketing consultant and speaker out of Florida. He helped Cleveland Glass Block (www.clevelandglassblock.com) not only design our Web site, but more importantly drive traffic to it through the use of e-zines (and soon to come -- e-commerce). I am currently working with Andrew on a Web site for Leadership Builders (it should be completed in the next 45 days).

You can reach Andrew by calling him at 352/527-3553.

-- LaNita Filer

Topica is what I am using and it offers several of the features you are requesting.

-- Sandy Ewing

I currently manage my monthly ezine list myself with ACT!. This is a manual process but not that difficult or time consuming at this time. Here is how I do it.

My Web site has a form for subscribers to fill in which is then sent as an email to me. The only required field is their email address, but I ask for their name and how they found me.

I don't have an autoresponder on purpose. When I get a response back in 30 seconds, I know it's computerized and I think it's impersonal and unimpressive. Instead, I have a "thanks for subscribing" signature file set up in Outlook. I check my email at least twice a day anyway. Then I simply hit reply, customize with their name, and send out the thanks. The thanks says they will receive the last issue soon.

I copy/paste their info into a new contact in ACT!. If you are familiar with ACT!, it allows you to set up groups and I have a group for subscribers.

I write my ezine in Word, spell check, format, etc. When I send my ezine, I paste the ezine into the body of a group email and send it to my subscriber group. That's it. ACT! allows me to keep a history on every contact, when they subscribed, what ezines they received, if they write me and I respond, etc. From the time I finish my ezine to when it is sent out is seconds.

I have a database of about 1000 names. I didn't buy any lists so the number of undeliverables is usually one or two. Last month I had none. When I receive subscribers and my next ezine isn't due in the next few days, I send out the last one. This is how I made that easy.

  1. I set up a new group in ACT! usually named for the day, Monday.
  2. New subscribers are enrolled in the subscriber group and the "Monday" group.
  3. At the end of the day I send my last ezine as a group email to the "Monday" group. After that is sent, I delete the "Monday" group. It actually took me longer to explain it then it does to do it.

I can do all of this on my laptop on the road and synchronize the data with my main computer when I'm home.

P.S. I am an ACT! fan.

-- Pat Wiklund

The listserv I use, which will do all you want it to do and is easy to set up, is Databack at databack.com. On their Web site, they have an easy to use process to sign up and get the features you want. Not too bad on pricing either.

-- Tom Terrific

I guess the questions are...how big a list do you want and how involved do you want be and how much money do you want to spend? I've attached a simple ezine, which I believe is free, has no advertising and is not intrusive at all. http://www.topica.com is the host.

You can also check PC Magazine, they had articles about different email list managers and their recommendations.

-- Sandra Schrift

Check out http://www.webvalence.com, owner Marty Crouch. Check the site for the rates -- they vary from month to month depending on my usage.

-- Harriet Meyerson

I use ListHost.net to manage my list, which is now almost 900, and to send out my weekly ezine. They are very reasonable and have an autoresponder. If you subscribe you receive my autoresponder "Welcome letter" and my newsletter. You can unsubscribe whenever you want and you will see my "Farewell letter," also an autoresponder.

Who maintains the list? They maintain the list and you can copy it at any time. Keeping an updated copy is insurance in case anything goes wrong in cyberland. So far nothing has gone wrong for me.

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