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Mailing List Service

Mailing Lists

There are many mailing list services to choose from, whether you want to set up a forum for discussing an interesting topic or use a mailing list to keep in touch with customers for your business. The kind of mailing list service you need varies depending on the kind of mailing list you want to set up.

Mailing list hosting

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Hosting is one of the most common mailing list services. Hosting for announcement lists tends to be more expensive than hosting for discussion groups, since the former is more likely to be for business use and the latter for non-profit use. The price of discussion group hosting is usually based on how many people are subscribed to the discussion group, while the price of announcement list hosting is usually linked to the total number of messages sent. See our page on free mailing list hosting for a discussion on free hosting.

Useful mailing list services

Services you might want to use include:

  • Subscription handling - verifying and confirming subscriptions automatically
  • Statistics - allowing businesses to see how many customers respond to mailings
  • Web services - some mailing list companies allow you to put your mailings on a website. It is also possible to have Web-based subscriptions and web archives. Searchable Web archives are useful for businesses and academic forums.
  • Deferred posting - allowing you to write mailings in advance of posting. Useful for businesses if the person who sends out mailings is occasionally absent.

Mailing list services you won't need

Some companies boast of "HTML design" or "HTML builders". This means that they will be able to help you format each message in an attractive, colorful way. However, this kind of service isn't as helpful as it sounds. The people on your mailing list will be using a variety of email programs, many of which will not be able to display HTML emails correctly. Even the people who can see HTML emails may be irritated by the larger file sizes rather than impressed by the pretty colors . Some people put an attractive HTML version of the message on a webpage, and then provide a link to this in the messages so that people have the option of seeing the designer version. However, you should always email in plain text.

Other companies offer templates to help you write your advertising messages. These are not usually very helpful, as they are rarely well tailored to your company and its potential customers. See our page on composing a direct mailing for information about writing your own.

Free mailing list services

It is possible to use some mailing list services without paying any money, but you may find that the range of services available for free is too limited for your purposes. Some companies offer a free basic package in the hope that people who use the free mailing list services will upgrade to a paid-for package. Some of the free services claim copyright on messages that pass through their machines, so confirm whether or not this is the case by reading the terms and conditions before using a free service.