January 14th, 2014

Should I Use a Regular Email Program for Email Marketing?

When using a service, such as LuxSci High Volume,  to send hundreds of thousands or millions of email messages for legitimate email marketing purposes, one the the first questions customers have is “what email program do I use to send?”  They often assume that they can “just use Outlook” or some other desktop email program. But can they?

The answer is “Yes” …. and …. “no”  (e.g. it depends).  Here we will see the up and down sides of using a regular desktop email program for email marketing.  

Why use a Desktop Email Program?

There are many reasons why Outlook or some other desktop email program is the initial go-to thought for customers:

  1. They already have it installed.
  2. They already know how to use it.
  3. They may have their contact list already in place in the program.

So, using the desktop program may be the fastest way to get started with the least effort.  And for some customers, especially smaller ones with simple needs, this may indeed be the way to go.

Why not use a Desktop Email Program?

Once you start setting up you desktop email program for email marketing, you will likely start seeing some of the limitations.  These limitations are not universal, but common:

  1. Need a separate POP or IMAP account.  Email marketing services provide you with an “SMTP” account on a server in the cloud through which you send your marketing messages.  When you go to set up your email program, you generally need not only an outbound email account (the email marketing service), but you also need an inbound account (e.g. a POP or IMAP account for checking email). Desktop email programs are generally for both sending and receiving email and require both to be setup.  You will need to find some POP or IMAP account to use for the inbound email portion of your email program setup in order to complete setup.  Your email marketing service will not generally provide inbound email to you (though some like LuxSci Premium High Volume, do).
  2. Hard to Send to Large Lists.  Most desktop email programs are good at sending individual message and messages with significant numbers of recipients (e.g. BCCs).  However, it is generally not good to send your email marketing messages as BCCs to your recipients (for legitimacy reasons … people like to see their address in the “To” of the message). Desktop email programs are usually poorly suited to sending 1000s of separate messages to separate recipients.  While some permit this, they are generally also much slower at sending than programs designed specifically for email marketing.  If your list is small – no big deal.  As your mailing list grows into the upper thousands or tens of thousands of recipients, you will find that many desktop email programs get very slow and may not work at all properly.
  3. No Tracking or Subscriber Management. Desktop email programs do not have features that allow you to track if a message has been opened (beyond read receipts), to track bounces, and to create and manage mailing campaigns and subscriber lists.  These are all standard features of software designed specifically for email marketing purposes.  These features are critical for those interested in getting the most impact from their email marketing by tweaking and optimizing campaigns and mailings.  They also provide list management for those interested in simplifying the process of managing subscribes, unsubscribes, bounces, and other issues that come with sending large numbers of messages to opt in lists in a legitimate way. If you have a small subscriber list and no time or inclination to do anything with regards to tracking or campaign management and wish to manage your subscribers yourself, then a desktop email program might work for you.

What to use instead?

If a desktop email program is too slow or limited or doesn’t contain the features needed for you to meet your email marketing goals, then what should you choose?

Your criteria should include:

  1. Speed: Designed for sending mass emails quickly
  2. List Management: Manages subscribes, unsubscribes, bounces, failures, and blocking sending messages to specific addresses.
  3. Tracking & Reporting: Tracks sends, message opens, Bounces, clicks on links, etc.  Gives statistics on the performance of your campaigns.
  4. Templates and Editing: Provides templates and tools to help you quickly create and manage your mailings

There are many programs out there that are ideal for email marketing.  Some are free and some are paid.  We have video instructions on our site for setting up some of the more popular ones.  We recommend the LuxSci Spotlight Mailer as the best solution when sending though LuxSci due to its speed and extensive feature set.


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