Last updated: February 12, 2020
What Is Mailing List Hosting?
Mailing Lists - We're all on them. Whether you get physical mail in your home mailbox or get the digital type that comes to your inbox, mailing is a valuable tool for getting information out.
It's not hard to see why. Email mailing lists make it easy to keep in touch with customers and gain new ones by using mailing lists integrated with your hosting. You have to just be careful not to overdo it.
One of the most effective ways to not only gain but keep customers is through mailing lists.
Done well, mailing lists can help you keep in touch with customers, provide them with valuable information, and increase your bottom line.
You'll find a lot of mailing list and email marketing providers out there, but in some cases, your best bet may be to find a hosting provider that offers it.
The reason why is because these services are designed for emailing people on a list, as opposed to that of one or a few that come from a single mailbox.
Why Go With Hosting?
Even with a scaled-up email system of your own, handling that kind of operation takes a tremendous amount of space, configuration and maintenance that may not return rewards and have limited benefit in terms of cost versus having a hosting provider handle it.
Hosting providers have 'trusted' email systems, which means because they handle a lot of e-mail they are far less likely to be 'blacklisted', which is a situation where systems are banned from exchanging mail based on abusive behavior.
This means that the hosting provider providing email services has the capacity to email far more people than someone who tried to do this on their own, based on size and the fact that hosting providers do a tremendous amount of self-policing for offenders and abusers of email systems.
It's not always a malicious thing but it is certainly destructive and could come in the form of misconfiguration, software errors or malware infection.
For one thing, getting your hosting and mailing list management from the same source makes managing both much easier on you. Who doesn't appreciate one-stop shopping?
It's one less login you have to remember, but the biggest benefit is seamless integration.
You won't have to worry about whether your mailing list coding or features will work on your site. You'll know everything is already compatible and ready to use right out of the box.
Mailing list managers attached to hosting accounts often have WYSIWYG editors, so there's no need to learn a new system in external mailing list software.
And if you've chosen a good hosting provider that offers reliable tech support, you can rest easy knowing that if you need help setting up your mailing list, or if anything goes wrong with it, your host will be there to help you.
Find the Plan for You, and Make Your Plan
There are many email strategies and a lot of the core notions come from a number of elements that are individual to each organization, such what kind of audience you have on your emailing lists, how organized the list is, and how the email contacts were acquired.
There are also countless marketing programs that have to be integrated into the planning of emails.
You could be simply getting your newsletter out there, you might be promoting an offer of some kind, making a new product announcement, trying to retain customers and much more.
There's a tremendous amount of variance in frequency, tone, and length of emails, among many other factors.
When it comes to mailing lists themselves, you would benefit from doing a little reading on email marketing and how you can put it to work for you and your business.
It may take a lot of what is called 'A/B testing' and monitoring in order to produce the best results. Emails can be helpful and useful, and you can even use them to send coupons and special offers to valued customers.
But if you overdo it and flood your customers' inboxes with too much email, you run the risk of losing their business.
Keep your communication valuable and on a good schedule, find a hosting provider that offers integrated mailing list management, and you'll have another solid piece of your overall marketing strategy in place.
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Mailing Lists Frequently Asked Questions
- Are there programs I can install myself to manage my own mailing list?
Absolutely. If you want to be in complete control of the installation, management, and maintenance, there are plenty of options available that you can install directly to your server. Listserver, OpenEMM, and phpList are just a few programs available. Depending on the features you are looking for and your company's budget, there are hundreds of options out there. Another option would be to utilize a mailing list feature provided through another service. For example, many helpdesk applications also include a mailing list.
- Do mailing lists provide contacts, or do I need to acquire those on my own?
Most mailing list applications are just that, applications for managing your bulk mailing. The actual list of email leads will typically come from you, your website, or another lead source. Your hosting provider, however, may include some marketing leads, or offer lead packages. Keep in mind that a home-grown list will provide better results than one you purchase since website visitors came there out of interest in your services and are more likely to come back.
- If it's provided by my hosting company, do the emails come from me or my host?
The email will come from you or your organization. The mail server being used will depend on your settings, and you can determine the reply address. Make it your own email address, or send it to a no-reply box. Or change this depending on the email and target audience.
- What is A/B testing?
A/B testing is the process of creating 2 unique scenarios and running them either simultaneously or one following the other while keeping all other variables as similar as possible. For examples, if you are trying to determine which marketing campaign works better, you could send one email to half of your mailing list and a second email to the other half. Based on the results, you can determine which campaign is more effective.
- Do hosts provide the option for multiple mailing lists coming from multiple sources?
This will depend on the hosting provider, but in general you should be able to set up several lists and create several different campaigns for each.
- Are there restrictions on how large a list I can have or how often I can email them?
This will depend on the resources you have available, the plan you've purchased, and any restrictions your host may have in place to avoid spammers. Be sure to do your homework before you sign up for a hosting plan to make sure they provide the level of mailings your organization requires. And if you're going over their limit, take a minute to ask yourself whether you're doing smart, targeted marketing or if you're getting a little too close to spam.
- Can I include attachments with mailing lists?
Many will offer this, but you should think twice before using this feature. Most internet users are leery of attachments, particularly when they come from a mailing list. And they should be. If you respect your consumer, don't ask them to open attachments. Because if they do it for you, they're probably going to do it for someone else. And the next person may not be so well-intentioned.
- Can I filter out incoming messages or attachments?
This will depend on the client provided through your host, but most provide some level of filtering, particularly for attachments, which can pose a high-security risk.
- How much will I be able to customize emails?
Any good mailing list server will allow you to completely customize your emails to match your organization's brand. If you don't have an established brand, or you don't need to include it in your emails (you should!), many also provide a number of templates you can use. You should also be able to store a variety of email templates for handling different kinds of communications. For example, emails with a bold red header may signal to your recipients that this is a very important message, while the standard green header means it's just their monthly coupons.
- What type of analytics will I be able to run?
A good mailing list server will provide you with detailed analytics regarding the numbers of emails sent, the read rate, and even the percentage of users who clicked on links. Depending on the data your users provided, you should also be able to pull reports based on geographic location, age, gender, general interests, how they found your site, etc. This is where you need to do serious planning ahead. Determine what variables you want to track, and make sure you're collecting that information when site visitors sign up for mailings.
- Is it possible to check a message before I send it, to see if will be flagged as spam?
Some mailing list servers offer a spam-check feature. What these do is review the contents of your message and evaluate it to determine the likelihood it will be marked as spam by another server or by email providers such as Gmail or Outlook.com. If your host does not provide this feature, there are services available that can provide the check for you. Keep in mind, none of these tools are guaranteed. Just to be safe, avoid mentioning that you're a foreign prince looking to give away millions of dollars.
- Can I use a mailing list server to create an interactive mailing list?
Many programs support the creation of multiple types of mailing lists, including newsletters, marketing lists, announcements, and discussion groups. Discussion groups can typically be moderated, meaning all messages have to be reviewed before going to the rest of the group, or unmoderated, meaning members can simply reply to the entire group.