Only ten years ago the words 'let's do a mailshot' would strike fear into the Office Junior, with images of mountains of letters, leaflets and envelopes, monotonous insertion and the inevitable paper-cuts. Email has simplified all of this and reduced many company's reliance on sending out literature by mail. But sending out hundreds or even thousands of emails still requires management. Enter Infacta Groupmail 3!
Although standard email clients such as Outlook will allow you to send out a message to multiple recipients, it does mean clogging up your address book with hundreds of contacts that may only be remote prospects, so using an external application for this keeps things a bit tidier. Infacta Groupmail comes in three versions, the one reviewed here being the free version.
Setting up Groupmail is relatively straightforward. You'll need the same settings that you configured your email account with, namely your SMTP address (for sending outgoing mail), username and password. Once this has been pumped it it's simply a case of either manually entering names in or using the import facility. Importing works well, with standard CSV files being the accepted format, which is fine as most database systems will export in this format.
Email addresses can be separated into groups, useful if you want to send one email to prospects and another to customers, for example. One drawback is that you cannot specify one contact to be a member of several groups, so if an email address changes you have to manage this across all groups manually. For the majority of people this is not likely to be a problem though, and the import facility is so quick it's likely that many users will simply delete the Groupmail database after sending out an email and re-import it fresh for the next one as required.
Entering an email is similar to any email client - key in your subject line, then main body message, then add any attachments. The free version does not offer any text formatting as it does not allow for HTML editing, so you'll have to be creative with capital letters and non alpha-numerical characters! You can also merge in fields from the user database, such as name, address etc - useful for simple personalisation.
The free version does however have some limitations. You can only send to 100 recipients in one session, each email is sent individually, and a short delay is also applied every few emails. You also cannot create HTML emails with the free version - these are all incentives to make you purchase the full products.
But there are also other good reasons to crack open the wallet. Group Mail Pro ($99) allows unlimited recipients, sends mails directly (as opposed to using your ISP's mail server - ideal if your ISP does not provide this service, such as AOL) and importing address books directly from many popular email clients. The Plus version ($179) takes this further by including scheduling, XML support, a high-speed sending engine and the ability to send SMS messages to mobile phones. And a variety of plugins are available for 'paid for' versions, such as XML transformer, HTML editors, automatic subscription and email validation tools.
All-in-all the free version is a great product for managing relatively small (<100) mailing lists, such as press contacts. If your database is within these numbers, and you're not fussed about sending HTML emails, then the free version will suit you nicely. If you want speed and more customisation then raid the piggy bank.
Supplier's website: www.infacta.com
The free version of GroupMail is included on the CD-ROM that accompanies the book Marketing your Business.
Pro's: It's free! Keeps your email address book clean
Con's: Free version is limited. Overuse can lead you to be blocked as a spammer.