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Top Email Marketing Software

As someone who has been involved with ecommerce for nearly 9 years, I've used several systems for managing my mailing list.

The system which served me the longest was ListMailPro, and was great when I bought it.  Unfortunately, the developer got bogged down with other projects, and never came back to update ListMailPro, and consequently, it became less and less "cutting edge".

Many online marketers choose to sign up with a service, like Aweber, GetResponse, Constant Contact, or others.  The reasoning for this is that the services have people on staff to maintain relationships with the various ISPs, and do everything they can to keep their mail servers off all "blacklists", which would prevent their customers' emails from getting through to their intended recipients.

The downside of these services is that they can be expensive.  $20 a month for managing a SMALL email list, and over $100 per month if you get any real numbers.  It's very easy to spend $1000 per year or more with these services, for as long as you plan to be in business.

On the other side of the coin, when you purchase list managment software, and have your websites hosted on a VPS (Virtual Private Server), you get many of the same benefits of using the expensive services, but at a much lower cost.  Using a VPS to host your websites provides many benefits, such as control over your own email reputation, and greater security, as there's no chance of a hacker gaining access to your website from another account on the same server.

This is why I prefer to host my own list management software.

A few years ago, I researched the options available, as ListMailPro was becoming obsolete.  Among the top choices I found, there were:

  1. OemPro
  2. Interspire's Email Marketer
  3. OmniStarMailer
  4. Elite Autoresponder
  5. AutoResponse Plus

All but one of the above choices give you the option to run your own Aweber-type service, and sell accounts for which you get paid every month.  This can be an excellent business model, especially if you don't already have products to sell.

A recent review of current offerings shows that these same choices are the most viable of all available.

To summarize my impressions of the above choices, Interspire's product is the best one of the bunch, but is more expensive, and may be out of reach for many folks.  ($495 for a single-user license.)  If you've got money to burn, this is the option for you.

AutoResponse Plus is the most recognized name for self-hosted email marketing, and is available at a reasonable price.  ($197)  The main downside is that it is a single-user product only, and there is no option to sell accounts to others.  When compared with the others, considering price and features, it falls to the bottom of my "short list".  For me personally, I also don't like the fact that it is coded in Perl.  I know PHP, and have no experience with Perl, so I wouldn't be able to modify it even if I wanted to.

Elite Autoresponder ($229) has a lot of good features, and comes with a license which allows you to host unlimited user accounts, but has a number of minor flaws which make it less than ideal.  In my situation, the fact that the entire script is encrypted, and there's no chance of modifying it, makes it fall to the bottom of the list along with AutoResponsePlus.  The main reason Elite Autoresponder stays ahead of AutoResponse Plus is because Elite Autoresponder allows you to sell unlimited user accounts.

OmniStarMailer has a nice blend of features, but is more expensive for what you get. ($287 for a single-user license.)  The process of creating an email to send out to your list is also a bit confusing, which makes it more challenging to learn.

And while OemPro may be a little more confusing than many of the others (better than OmniStarMailer, though), the incredible flexibility it offers, combined with the option to sell user accounts, and the lower price, makes it the best value of the bunch, even at $299 for a single-user license.

Currently, it's an even better deal, because the developers are running a CRAZY special, where you can get a single-user license for just $29.  Of course, you can upgrade to a multi-user license, so it even benefits those wanting to run a mail service.  (An upgrade from single-user to a 5-user license is just $200.  $400 for up to 10 users.  Considering you can get $20 to $100 PER MONTH from your customers, the license cost is minimal.)

This special price was originally supposed to end October 31st, but they left it in place past then.

Until I get my own ecommerce system developed, I'm moving my mailing lists to OemPro.  It's a big upgrade from what I have been using (ListMailPro and Drupal's Simplenews system), and will serve me well for the foreseeable future.

The only major drawback I've found with OemPro is that all autoresponders get scheduled when a trigger is activated, such as when someone subscribes to your list.  This means that when you add a new autoresponder to the sequence, current subscribers won't get it.  Just those who join later.  There are ways to work around this, but it's still a limitation.

For those who need a more user-friendly system, AutoResponse Plus is also on sale, for $177.  (Here again, the special price was supposed to end some time ago, but is still available as of November 15th.)  They have been working on a multi-user version, and anyone buying that software now gets an automatic upgrade to the new system when it becomes available.

Please Note:  I am not being compensated in any way by any of the companies mentioned in this article. 
Although I may sign up as an affiliate in the future, I am not now an affiliate, and my comments are purely my own.

For those looking for low-cost solutions

Invariably, I run into someone who either doesn't want to, or can't, spend the money for good software.  As such, I get asked about recommendations for a cheaper option.

Right now, you can get the best of both worlds with OemPro's $29 special.  Very low price, and highly advanced features.

But for those who miss the sale, I do have a couple of recommendations.

First, there is PHPList, which is open-source, and free.  It gives you all the typical features of a mailing list manager, such as personalization, scheduled broadcasts and sequential autoresponders.  It's no speed demon, but what do you expect for free?  If you have a hosting account with Fantastico, you can install this on your website with a couple of mouse clicks.

Another open-source option is the one I've used for the last year, which is Drupal's Simplenews system.  No autoresponders here, but a nice system for bulk mailings to a list.  Drupal does have an autoresponder module, but I don't recommend it for anything more than a couple of hundred subscribers.  The biggest downside to Drupal's mailing system is that it's not very flexible unless you know PHP and can modify it yourself, and automatic bounce processing is still experimental.  (By the way, Drupal's Simplenews system is included in my Advanced and Professional website development packages.)

While ListMailPro is pretty much obsolete, it still works well, and the developer has decided to make it available for free.  I've used this software for about 6 years, and never ran into a bug.  It's solid, and a good option for those who cannot afford the better systems.  Two of it's biggest drawbacks are that it doesn't have a WYSIWYG HTML editor, so you have to design HTML emails in a separate program, and subscribers don't have the option to update their own details.  PHPList doesn't have these limitations, although it runs slower than LMP.

There are a lot of other options available.  These are just the ones I'm familiar with.