Email Newsletter Software - A Guide

An introduction to email newsletter software

Are you confused by the different software options for generating a newsletter delivered via email?

You're certainly not alone - and this site is starting to try and sort out what are the free and paid options and how they compare.

Plus tips on using newsletters and email.

Below you can find:

  • a checklist of things to think about when choosing email newsletter software
  • a list of free webware which allows you to deliver newsletters online
  • a list of paid software sites which can deliver email newsletters (note some are dedicated and others are a function within a bigger package)
  • lots of tips on what to do when using email newsletters


Checklist for choosing newsletter software

A basic checklist of questions to ask

This is what I've identified as a preliminary set of questions which should be asked when considering acquiring such software

  • Is it free - or does it cost you a monthly fee? Does the fee vary by the number of subcribers? How open and explicit is the software website about how much it costs?
  • Does it save you money and/or increase your standing? In other words, what's the real cost (in time/effort and presentation) of an alternative which doesn't involve specialist software?
  • Is it reliable? The general view seems to be that if you pay for a service then you get a better service - or at least one which is more accountable. Another view is that this really depends on how mission critical your e-mail is.
  • Does it provide for people to receive it according to their preference? For example, does it have an RSS feed and can be read in a feed reader?
  • Do you know what you need?Does it need to be:
    • an idiot-proof solution?
    • lots of time/effort/help to get your newsletter up and running - but it then needs to be simple and efficient for you to operate?
    • a webmaster who does all those fancy tricks with servers and mailing databases?
  • Most importantly, have you considered why you are sending a regular e-mail/e-mail newsletter?
    • Does the information you communicate need to be one-way or could it be interactive (ie with comments and dialogue)?
    • Must it be private - or could it be public?
    • Have you considered what are the other options for what you need to say?

That's far from a long check-list - but it'll do for starters. What do you think are the other questions which you need to ask yourself?

(Extract from: Which is the best e-mail newsletter software?)

An overview of the software

If I get a lot of comments I'll start to split out the product from its reviews to give more room for the latter.

Similarly I'm interested in hearing about sites which are providing more detailed and unbiased reviews of software - please leave a comment at the end if you know of one.

Please also note that I don't count affiliates as unbiased!

FREE newsletter software and webware

Free newsletter software is getting better and better as developers realise that the way to hook people into the priced plans is to provide an excellent service via the free service - but to provide better features and more flexibility and scope for customisation with the priced plans

But do you need all those features and customisation?

PRICED Newsletter software and webware

These are the priced options for creating email newsletters.

Priced plans generally offer more flexibility and features - but make sure you check them out against the best of the free options. Also make sure you're not buying too many features that you don't need.

In general to offer good value for money, these options will be considered by people or organisations that have a regular newsletter to a significant number of people and the need to maintain a very professional presentation for their communication online

The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing

Rated an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars based on 26 customer reviews

This is a guide to using the Constant Contact email marketing software effectively

Reviews of email marketing options - reviews by email marketing options

Below is a link to the reviews of the top providers of email marketing software by the website email marketing options - which appears to be reputable.

Summary and comprehensive reviews are available and these score each option against a set of criteria

Newsletter Marketing

Rated an average of 4.9 out of 5 stars by 12 customer reviews

This book focuses on how to use the right type of content and the right layout to increase readership. It also looks at how the use of newsletters can increase client retention and keep your name in front of your customers

It has some very enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon!


Legal requirements for emailers - Do you know what you MUST do? Or what you can't do?

The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

  • establishes requirements for those who send commercial email,
  • spells out penalties for spammers and companies whose products are advertised in spam if they violate the law, and
  • gives consumers the right to ask emailers to stop spamming them.

The law, which became effective January 1, 2004, covers email whose primary purpose is advertising or promoting a commercial product or service, including content on a Web site.

A "transactional or relationship message" - email that facilitates an agreed-upon transaction or updates a customer in an existing business relationship - may not contain false or misleading routing information, but otherwise is exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.

Every Nonprofit's Guide to Publishing

Creating Newsletters, Magazines & Websites People Will Read - by Cheryl Woodard

Rated an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars by 5 customer reviews

Jakob Neilsen (Neilsen group) on email newsletters

According to Neilsen:

  • users spend an average of 51 seconds reading a newsletter and
  • only 19% read the entire newsletter

He's researched the use and design of newsletters and provides this information

  • for free, via his Alertbox (recommended by me)
  • as information reports (download for a fee0
  • in workshops (for a fee)

The research and experience makes this source of information about general and specific usability on the internet one which is definitely worthwhile keeping an eye on.

Jakob Neilsen is the founder of and partner in the Neilsen Norman group /

Starting & Running a Successful Newsletter or Magazine

Now somewhat old - it's not been updated since 2006 - when the 5th edition looked at the latest trends in Web publishing (i.e. blogging!) and how to integrate online and print strategies into a unified front.

This is more about magazines than newsletters and the comments in the Amazon reviews suggest that from a business perspective there's a bit more to it. However an interesting book to buy if you're serious about building a serious newsletter which will generate a following

Barney Davey - Email marketing for artists

In Barney Davey's view "E-mail marketing is the most affordable and easy way to communicate directly with your prospects, partners, fans and collectors"

In this series of blog posts he outlines strategy, tactics, decision-making and tips for effective email marketing which converts interest into sales

More TIPS for using email lists and newsletters

Never ever forget that once you've made your choice as to the best software, the technology alone is not going to make you more successful.

They key to marketing art online is through relationships

  • making relationships
  • communicating effectively - to maintain and keep relationships (no more "we don't talk any more!")
  • adding content of value to the people you want to build a relationship with

The Zen of Social Media Marketing

If you want to look beyond email newsletters

Focuses on how to deal with social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The main benefit of this book is that in a constantly evolving social media world it provides you with a way of keeping up to date - via a contantly updated book online which is accessible to those who buy the book

Amazon review profile: 4.5 out of 5 stars (49 customer reviews)

Website webware/software with built-in newsletters

Life can be simplified if your website software is able to produce newsletters.

However the scope for designing the newsletters tends to be very limited. Other websites provide the option for you to install third party newsletter software

I'd Rather Be in the Studio

The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion by Alyson B. Stanfield (Author)

This book is very much focused on addressing promotional activities of artists.

The revised version is available as a Kindle Edition

Ranked an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars (88 customer reviews)

More by this Author

Comments and Feedback - comments are welcome - but please do not spam 3 comments

seodress profile image

seodress 3 years ago

Helpful lens.

anonymous 4 years ago

Hi Katherine. Looks like you've been busy doing your research on email marketing. Our GroupMail email newsletter software is used in over 160 countries and is available to install in English, Spanish, French, German and Polish. We offer a full functional GroupMail Free Edition that you can download and use as long as you want. GroupMail is regularly ranked as one of the top email marketing software solutions on the market by independent reviews like Top 10 reviews.Well done Katherine. Let me know if you have any questions about GroupMail or email marketing in general.Tom--With best regards from the GroupMail TeamTom O'Leary ( Newsletter Software 15 Years!P.S. We also offer email tracking at

LisaCall 8 years ago

I use PHPlist for my newsletter. It's maybe not the most intuitive piece of software to set up and get running but as a software engineer in addition to an artist, it wasn't a big deal for me. I've heard from other artists it's a bit confusing and can take a couple days to figure out.

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    Katherine Tyrrell (makingamark)122 Followers
    87 Articles

    Katherine used to crunch numbers, analyse business performance and specialised in performance management. Now she does the same for artists.

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