Web-based email marketing

Changing operating systems also forced me to change my email marketing. The alternative I found is great, and it’s free. BRENDAN LEWIS

Brendan Lewis

By Brendan Lewis

In 2000 I was running a multimedia business called Carradale Associates and had the opportunity to vend it into a new IT support business. I pretty much let all the contractors I was employing go, other than the oldest one who I really wanted to look after.

Unfortunately he and I had a difference of opinion. I wanted to make a lot of money, and he wanted to work in a New York style loft office, with a cool coffee shop downstairs.

Slight disconnect.

Anyway fast forward eight years and my friend now has his own IT business. Among the product set he has developed is an email marketing solution. And every once in a while when we get together, he suggests I should be using it to send out my Churchill Club emails (at about $200 a go). Traditionally I kind of wanted to, but the CRM system I was using on my Windows-based laptop was working just well enough, and it was free.

However, now that I have moved to a Linux-based netbook (as discussed in previous blogs), I had to come up with a new solution.

Unfortunately for my friend, a quick look around the open source solutions and I came up with a free product called PHPlist. PHPlist seemed to be the goods, and when I compared it to my friend’s solution, I knew I had to give it ago.

Here is my features comparison table.

 

Feature

The mates paid solution

The open source free solution

Expected cost PA

$5000

$0

Send HTML & plain text emails

Yes

Yes

Send attachments

Yes

Yes

Reusable templates

Yes

Yes

Personalised emails, eg: Hi Brendan

Yes

Yes

Track emails opened

Yes

Yes

Track clickthroughs to links?

Yes

Yes

Bounce management

Yes

Yes

List cleansing

Yes

Yes

Scheduled deliveries

Yes

Yes

Throttled delivery

No (not necessary)

Yes

Infinite users

No (but over 100K+)

No (but over 100K+)

Infinite lists

No (one at a time)

Yes

User subscribe

No

Yes

User unsubscribe

Yes

Yes

Languages

English

English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Traditional Chinese, Dutch, Vietnamese and Japanese

Automatically send updated content from websites to your list

No

Yes

Integrated into your website

No

Yes

 

Getting it going was easy and took me around 10 minutes to setup (the more you mess with this stuff the easier and quicker it gets). The steps (using only a web browser) were:

  1. Download the zip files from www.phplist.com/download (actually it flicks you across to sourceforge then automatically downloads the product).
  2. Logged on to one of my Unix-based webhosting services Bluehost and used the graphical control panel there to upload the zip file.
  3. Used the control panel to unzip the PHPlist package and install the files into their own subdirectory (which I cleverly called /phplist).
  4. I then went to the website I used and typed in the address for the installed PHPlist package. In this case it was a work area I happened to call http://churchill.l2i.com.au/phplist
  5. I then followed the instructions on the screen which involved creating a database (sounds scary but the graphical control panel made this easy to do).

This PHPlist appears to be pretty cool and the concepts behind using it are fairly easy to understand.

  1. You have email templates that you can put content into.
  2. You have users whom you can put on one or more mailing lists.
  3. You send the email (template and content) to a mailing list and check the stats for what happened.

So, I can now send out the fortnightly newsletter from a web-based solution which costs me nothing. The best thing is though that other directors of the Churchill Club can now add or delete members from the list without me getting involved (which forces me to be a better collaborator).

And in regards to my friend’s email marketing solution? Sorry mate – but at least you’ve still got the funky office.

Next week I thought I might go through how I am handling documents – without paying for software, freeing up my time, and becoming a better collaborator.

 

Brendan Lewis is a serial technology entrepreneur having founded : Ideas Lighting, Carradale Media, Edion, Verve IT, The Churchill Club, Flinders Pacific and L2i Technology Advisory. He has set up businesses for others in Romania, Indonesia and Vietnam. Qualified in IT and Accounting, he has also spent time running an Advertising agency and as a Cavalry Officer with the Australian Army Reserve.

To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.

 

Comments

Peter Maniatis writes: Yes Brendan, I have been using phplist for a couple of years now. Makes the operation look like there are 20 people in the backroom taking inquiries. Just got your first newsletter using phplist and looks great.

 

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