Google Groups, Mad Mimi, And Mailing Lists

Mad Mimi email marketing

If all goes well, Mad Mimi is going to take over the mailing list for subscribers to Bruceb News. Here’s the story that led me to the odd logo on the left.

If you send an email message to more than 25 people, most of them won’t receive it. The message will be filtered as spam and tossed into a junk mail folder.

Vertical Response and Constant Contact have made a nice business out of handling mailing lists for businesses that send out email blasts regularly. When I’ve used them in the past, they had all the hallmarks of tools for big companies – lots and lots of options, infinite flexibility, complicated controls for layout and design, sophisticated analytics for judging the success of email campaigns, and much more.

Very small businesses don’t want all that. When you’re a law firm or accounting office that might send out two or three email blasts a year, the process has to be easy or you’re just not going to do it.

When I was looking for an easy way to maintain the Bruceb News mailing list, I passed right over the big complicated services and headed for Google Groups. At that time it was a simple, free group manager that could be used as easily for mailing list management as for active discussion forums.

Google began to change the focus of Google Groups late in 2010, when it dropped support for Welcome messages, pages, and files. This year there has been a steady stream of changes aimed at integrating Google Groups more deeply into Gmail and Google Apps – valuable changes for the people using those services, but making it more difficult to use Google Groups as a simple mailing list manager. Here’s an article that summarizes the good and the bad features of Google Groups for businesses in its current form.

A couple of months ago Google removed my ability to add people to my mailing list. A button labeled “Add members directly” just disappeared with no notice. To add you to the mailing list, I have to depend on an “invitation” sent out from the management portal by email with a confirming link for you to click. It’s a broken system. I have yet to see an invitation actually arrive, and there are a hundred reasons why someone might not click the link and finish the process.

Google said it removed the ability for group managers to add members directly “since spammers have unfortunately abused this feature.” Really? A lot of unhappy mailing list managers doubt that:

Nobody at Google Groups seems to care enough to respond to any of the hundreds of messages being posted by mailing list managers from around the world. The mechanism of sending "invites" is not sufficient. Many group members are not computer savvy. They do not click on links to accept "invitations" (assuming that invitations have not gotten lost in their spam folder in the first place.)

Not a single group manager buys Google’s said logic that the above-mentioned essential feature had to be removed due to "spam" problems. We all believe that it is Google’s manipulative strategy to force everyone to adopt GMAIL.

We (as mailing list managers) need to be able to add members directly with minimum hassle – without the members having to do anything. We have to deal with hundreds of members and it is not possible to follow-up who are the ones that have not yet accepted their group invites, and then "unsubscribe" and "resend invitations".

After doing a little research, I chose Mad Mimi to manage the mailing list. There are, of course, dozens and dozens of companies that might have done the job. Mad Mimi seems well suited because it is focused on keeping the process simple. The templates and design tools are straightforward and uncluttered – you can get started in only a few minutes with a professional design that will make you proud. The monthly plans are cheap. It creates straightforward signup forms (like the one on the right on the Bruceb News page.) I got prompt responses from nice people when I emailed support. There is one add-on that tipped the scales for my particular situation: Mad Mimi will check the Bruceb News RSS feed and send a message automatically each morning if there is a new article.

Your needs might be quite different, so do some research and think it through – but give Mad Mimi a look if you’re considering online marketing for a very small business. You can set up a test for free. Here’s a short review and here’s another that will give you an overview of some of its other features.


OUTLOOK TIP

Not ready for a marketing service like Mad Mimi? If you’re sending an email blast directly from Outlook, there are two important rules.

  • Send the message to yourself as the TO: recipient. All other addresses should be BCC: recipients so they remain private. It’s considered good manners not to expose email addresses.
  • Send messages to no more than 25 people at a time. If you have something to mail to 200 people, send eight messages.