Sending personal emails to groups of people

If you have a group of people you regularly email, for example the local football team members or a group of friends there are many ways you can email them as a group.

Here are some of the methods and their pros and cons.

  1. Send it to everyone

    This is quick and easy so long as the list is small. However, its impersonal and quickly becomes cumbersome. It also lets everyone know everyone else's email which is technically illegal if they have not given permission. It is also easy to accidentally drop people off the list or forget to remove people who have asked to be removed. Its better not to use this method.

  2. Send it to no-one and bcc it to everyone.

    This is quick and easy for small lists too and it gets around some of the legality issues. However, its also impersonal and some spam filters will block the email if the to: field of the email is blank. Its better not to use this method.

  3. Use word processing mail merge facilities.

    If you use Word/Outlook or OpenOffice/Evolution/Thunderbird/Outlook, this method is easier than you might think and is well worth a try. Nice personal mails can be sent to each intended recipient by creating the message in your word processor rather than in your email application. Start MS Word and select "Tools | Letters and mailings | Mail merge" or follow this guide. The word wizard is quite helpful and its fairly well documented so by following the prompts you'll find you can send out nice individual emails to each member of a group with hardly any more effort than writing a single email. Test it by doing a mail merge of the email ust to yourself. This method has the disadvantage that for significant lists, people can't manage their own membership (unsubscribe themselves) and you don't know what happens to the emails.

  4. Use google groups

    This is a much more interactive facility where any group member can address and respond to posts from the others. Its worth mentioning because its often better than sending emails to each recipient. You can post reminders and newsletters and the membership can respond and discuss them as a group as well as posting their own messages. As its self administered, members can remove themselves from the group and you can choose whether to only allow people to join by invitation or to allow anyone to join.

    If you want to promote interaction rather than just post information, this is an excellent way to go. Take the tour and see if its what you want.

  5. Use MailChimp

    This is a slick marketing tool but its very easy to use and they give you the ability to mail to up to 100 emails up to six times a month for free. For small users this is often all you'll need so it really is a free service. Go to Mail chimp and follow the instructions. A "campaign" might seem overpowered but its easy to use. If you go over 100 emails or six mails a month, the $10 per month wont break the bank.

    MailChimp might seem like overkill but if you are primarily sending out newsletters or announcing meetings. It covers all the legal bases with the added bonus that you can check the emails are delivered and read.


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