March 12, 2019

Sending Newsletters and Marketing Emails ?

I have been thinking about building a product and my current product idea is a software to send bulk emails - newsletters, marketing. I would like to ask you some questions to validate the idea of the product :) and to see if someone will use it

Are you sending bulk emails? What software or service are you using for it? How do you find the cost and the features? Worth it? Have you faced any issues with it?

For a dirt cheap cost - Would you opt for an alternate open source solution with simple features backed by AWS SES to send emails ?

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    Email Octopus does this... (i haven't used it personally) but they send with SES and can wire in your own SES, I think.

    We use Mailchimp for newsletters and marketing emails.

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      Thanks for pitching in about the service @jlogic ! I haven't heard of it. Let me check it out :)

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    publishthis Is what I am going to use to build my own blog software. I want something that is very light on the CPU/memory. I will build my own delivery with a webhook, methods and database. I might use that for four domains. Then with a cron, I will publish to mautic for the emails and newsletters. I will store my content fragments in AWS s3.

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      Ah, okay. If anything at all, what would be that thing that would make you offload the mailing work to a different service?

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    there are existing solution that are close : email octopus, sendy,...

    sendy is really awesome.

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      Thanks for pitching in! I agree, others have a similar opinion too. I might still try this idea out to see how things turn out

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    What is there to validate? Millions of people send bulk email every day. Unless you've found a niche or have a killer, unique, product idea that no-one is doing?

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      I am afraid nothing unique, at least to start with, just simple core features.

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        So there's nothing really to validate in that case. You will just need to build a better product, market it better, and/or make it cheaper.

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          yes, cheaper is one thing that I will target

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    Would you opt for an alternate open source solution with simple features backed by AWS SES to send emails ?

    You mean like Sendy which is what we use? ;-)

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      Yes, I would love to compete with Sendy :) I also know an existing open source solution which already exists - http://github.com/freeCodeCamp/mail-for-good . Just looking at what I can do differently and in a simple manner, without too much complexity for the user - in terms of setup of software, features or usage too.

      Being a Sendy user, would you ever try any other software X ? considering X is stable and good enough for your use case and has good support. What would be the conditions for you to try it out?

      I am asking this as am still thinking of ideas. Like, even the basics. Not about features. Starting with sustainability - Open source is quite bold for me though. But I want to check what other open source companies have done to sustain and their business models (hosting, enterprise features etc) and see if I can still earn money and keep it more low price for customers and open source also has lots of benefits of it's own, if it turns out well

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        I'm always open to new software :-) but it obviously needs to offer an improvement over what we have AND the hassle of migrating.

        For mailing list software a lot of time is spent on the processes for getting the data in and out of the product. That is not something that can instantly be translated to new software.

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          I understand your concern. Migrations need to be easier. From my side, if I build this software, I will make sure there's a migration strategy (if possible) from other services - for which, the service should allow exporting data, for importing, I can write code accordingly to support them :)

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            You are absolutely right but that isn't what I meant. Most of the time for us was spent building the processes and integration for the following...

            • Forms on sites that push data straight into sendy

            • Processes for new customers and leaving customers to add/remove them from the relevent lists.

            • Automatic integration into tools for people that create accounts

            These are the things that will take time to migrate no mater what exporting and importing tools you have.

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              @dogsbody I am currently thinking about the analytics features that are important for people who send email campaigns or newsletters. Like number of emails opened, links clicked, bounced emails etc. These are just basic though. I was thinking of what's possible and came up with some simple things that can be analysed, but wasn't sure if everyone would be interested in the same metrics in the reports. I wanted to know if sendy is providing you all the analysis that you need and if not, what kind of analysis are you expecting ?

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                Yup, I'm afraid that Sendy is providing you all the analysis that we need in that regard :-/

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                  Ah, okay. Anything in particular that you find very very useful?

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              I didn't understand that exactly. I would like to understand the difficulty though. May be buying and using sendy can help me understand ? Or may be I will ask in DM if this is turning out to be too much too and fro

              And you mean none of these can be made easier through software? But yes, if it has to be completely smooth, the other software should take inputs and do stuff similar to sendy. Like, if I understand the first one correctly, is it possible to point the form to a new software X instead of sendy? if that's the case, and if X works similar to sendy, then everything should be fine? I don't know, just a hunch, based on a basic understanding. I am not sure about the other two.

              Also, are you facing any difficulties with sendy? And what are the things you like about it? :)

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                The problem you will have with forms is that each provider (Sendy, Email Octopus, etc) will use a different format/syntax so you will not be able to just simply plug into the way they do it easily.

                In short, we have no difficulties with sendy and we like it cos it just works! :-) Why change :-p

                Reading this thread I guess I don't understand why you are going after a market you don't understand with no great ideas about how you can make it better. No offense intended.

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                  @dogsbody There's always a start, I guess this is my start line. I have seen great finish lines of businesses that have done things similar to other businesses and in an open source manner too and then earned money in Enterprise versions and support. I have confidence that anything is possible.

                  And about the forms, I agree to the point. Technically, it may be not easy to replicate exact features, but I think it might be possible to some extent. I'll know if I try it out

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    I am using MailChimp, can code own design or get the ready design. Works fine

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      Ah, so you like the email template design feature which is customizable and provides ready made templates too.

      Honestly, I don't think it's gonna be easy for me to compete when it comes to design, especially email templates. It's something that I will have to consider when building this product. Probably offload it to the user and give public open souce email templates to start with. But I don't think I will build email template design (editor, ready made templates etc) as a core feature to start with

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    Sendfox might be close to this.

    I am happy to pay even more than I pay for mailchimp if it makes me more capable and makes me more money.

    I like the idea of revue and substack but havent got the nerve to switch yet.

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      I checked out the services you mentioned except sendfox (as I have to give email address). Thanks for pitching in! I think I have seen Revue service previously. Someone mentioned it. And yeah, Revue and Substack look cool.

      It looks like they are for newsletters. And you mention about making money. So, you send paid newsletters ? or planning to send them? Looks like a good use case for me to check out :) And it's great to hear that cost is not a deal breaker. So, what kind of product/features would you be looking for ? ones like Revue and substack ? And do you find any cons in your current experience with mailchimp ? Anything that outweighs it's pros?

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        I send a curated newsletter. influenceweekly.co

        So far, to date, I haven't liked any of the curated newsletter services. I even have subscribed to a few other newslettesr that use them but they seem sterile or have mistakes that a human could have picked out easily.

        Here's my process.

        Anything to augment and make this better, I'd pay for anything that can get me more revenue or more subscribers?)

        Each week I read over 100 articles. I created my own bookmarklet that allows me to put the title and url into a spreadsheet.

        I use the google sheet to organize into 3 sections (great reads, people, news) but sometimes I will add a section if needed (deep reads, job Opps, Events).

        That spreadsheet also(w/zapier) goes to a twitter feed, and archive (built a searchable archive in Algolia). http://influence.directory/news.

        Here are some things I could be doing but don't. can software help?

        Every week I should be taking note of each writer of each article I include. Tweeting to them, email them. Linkedin Connect. But that's a lot of work. I'm now going through my archives and doing that work but it's taking forever.

        I'd love to augment my archive with snippets, or summaries. Making that searchable is great, but it's limited to titles only now.

        I would love to figure out which articles overperformed. Meaning they were not the top placed article but got more clicks. I noticed that an article gets more clicks the higher it is in the newsletter. Seeing over-indexing articles can show me where my editorial vision misaligned with what readers wanted.

        How can I get click rates of all articles of all time without having to go to each one and plugging the stats into a spreadsheet?

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          Wow. this looks cool. I am loving the directory site, looks sleek and fast. And I still have to understand what influencer marketing means, so I have to check that out and then subscribe to your emails ;)

          About the process, I think curated newsletters service needs a software by itself to do these stuff!

          And from what I see, it's of course possible to do all of the things you mentioned using software.

          And I can relate to some of the things you mentioned - like click rates of all articles of all time. I subscribe to a weekly newsletter for a programming language and they recently sent a mail for "Top links of last year". I think to do that, you need to know click rate stats across all newsletters and may be more

          May be if you are interested, and think that there are many others out there who would want such features for their curated newsletter, then we can talk it out and write down the list of features and see if I can build it. If not, I can at least put it here - https://github.com/open-source-ideas/open-source-ideas/ and someone might build it ;) But it's highly possible I might be able to help

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            Happy to see if you can build it. I am making a version now and will probably end up hitting a wall at some point.

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              You mean you are building a software for your use case? that's cool :) Then I am sure it's gonna turn out well. You know the problems so well. And you will surely find the solution to it. In any case, let me know if you are interested and want to collaborate and work on this - to list down all the features you would like in a newsletter service, based on your use case. If I can get the requirements at least to some extent, it's possible to start work and have iterations and may be refine requirements and the software on the go, in an agile manner