A simple to use program for sending out mass email. (February 1st, 2009)
Product Manufacturer: Limit Point Software
Price: $25.00 US
- Highly customizable. Good documentation. Multiple settings to prevent spam problems. Includes a Daylite 3 Plugin.
- Can't always choose which email addresses to use when multiples exist for one person. Confusing settings in simulation mode. Mail statistics is limited by your knowledge of HMTL.
When you need to contact groups of people with the same information, bulk email saves mail costs and is more environmentally friendly. While programs like Apple Mail or Entourage allow you to send the same email to multiple people, most email programs don't offer a mail merge feature where you send customized email to individuals from a list. Mailings, from Limit Point Software, bridges that gap and does a great job. Unlike email subscription services, such as Constant Contact or iContact, Mailings has a one-time price of $25.00. You can send email to a large group of people, such as small business owners, user group members, marketing contacts, or even your extended family.
Mailings, only available from the Limit Point Software site, includes a limited time demo. The simple drag and drop installation includes great documentation and many example files, but you can jump into this easy to understand program without reading the documentation.
The opening screen includes all the needed options to choose your email file, mailing list or recipients, and sender. The Preferences include nine tabs in which you customize or tweak your settings. Mailings flexibility lets you work with your mail files and lists easily.
You can choose your recipient list from a customized list in your Address Book, a list imported from Entourage, or a comma or tab separated file. While you can choose to which email addresses you want to send, such as work, home, or both, you must pick one type of email for everybody. You can't choose home for some and work for others. This is a minor but potentially annoying problem, but is common on most email products. However, if you combine Mailings' ability to use Smart Groups within the Address Book, you can do some sophisticated database management. For example, I created a Smart Group within Address book for records updated after a certain date to indicate new people who signed up for my mailing list. This is a quick and easy way to welcome new customers or group members. When you're ready to choose the content you want to mail, Mailings allows you to send a file or a web page. This is great for customized HTML-enhanced email that includes web graphics and specialty formatting - you know, the ones in which Apple Mail won't load the images because it ended up in the junk folder! You may also choose a Preamble and/or Epilogue for your mail, which is a fancy way of saying header and footer.
The Epilogue and Preamble options are where the Mailings magic comes into play. Just like when you print mailing labels in your word processor, Mailings allows you to personalize the email message so that "Hi" followed by the First Name field delivers "Hi John." You may also insert AppleScript tags, which makes the program incredibly powerful for AppleScript gurus, which I am not.
Other Mailings strengths are the options available in the Preferences. Some ISPs limit the number of messages sent per hour, the mail size, or both. In the Throttle preference tab you can specify exactly how often and in what mode you send the mail, in order to prevent your ISP from blocking the messages. You can state how many emails are sent within a certain period or the delay between each email sent. In the Log Preferences tab, the program tracks each email sent and its disposition. It records bounced mail, plus records the detailed interaction between your mail server and theirs. If you find out your message is too long, or that you sent too many at once, you can use the Throttle preferences to reconfigure what you send to meet the individual ISP's requirements.
The handy Blacklist tab lets you create a do not mail list. People get annoyed when they receive mail, after they've asked you to remove their names. This is usually due to human error, but when put them on the Blacklist, Mailings won't send mail, if they are on your recipient list. This can save you many headaches and hard feelings.
In addition to the inability to choose email addresses on a case by cases basis, as noted above, the implementation of the simulated send and preview does not seem to work very well. In order to prevent sending inappropriate email, the program offers a Simulation and a Preview mode. The documentation doesn't clarify the difference and I was concerned that simulation mode seemed a bit too real, so I sent a test email to my list rather than a simulation. The program should include a better explanation of the differences. One limitation of the program are the statistics of who read the email. Subscription services can give you more information about whom opened the email, on what they clicked, and other details. Mailings can do this if you write the HTML coding yourself, but that is beyond the reach of the average user and needs an experienced web programmer.
In summary, Mailings is a very useful program to send customized mass email and a great value for the price. You can customize your mail based on a number of factors stored in your address book or an imported delimited file, as well as the ability to send in a way that doesn't set off ISP spam alarms. I believe it is very useful for any organization or individual that needs to send the same mail to many people.
Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor