You can use your own email program to create and send e-zines but I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way. Once your subscriber list starts to blossom, it will be a nightmare trying to manage it manually.
Free list management services like Yahoo!Groups or Zinester are relatively user-friendly, but it does take some experimentation to get your e-zine to look, and behave, the way you want. If you’re willing to put in the effort and time, however, a free list service will cost you only that: your effort and time.
Ideally, your list management tool will be fully automated, meaning that:
- New subscribers automatically receive an email thanking them for signing up (an autoresponder);
- Your e-zine includes unsubscribe information that automatically and immediately removes the unsubscriber’s name from your list, and sends them an autoresponder notifying them that their name has been removed and saying good-bye;
- It allows you to create and store e-zines for later mailing, and a system for scheduling date and time for those later mailings;
- It allows you to create your e-zines so that subscribers are able to view them in either plain text or HTML (hypertext mark-up language–graphics and colors and doodads), depending on the email settings the subscriber has chosen at their end.
E-zine experts agree that graphics and colors are more visually appealing to your readers, which could influence their decision to buy. However, some subscribers want “just the facts”–plain text, no pictures, nothing fancy.
The ideal list service will manage this for you: you create your e-zine and the list service delivers whichever version the user’s preferences are set for. I used to use Constant Contact, which is a good service if you only have one branded business. Now I use Aweber, because I can create an unlimited number of lists, each with their own branding. Other decent options include MailChimp, iContact and several others.
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