9 Comments

Summary:

Welcome to a new monthly series from TheAppleBlog. Each month we will cover a a specific topic specific to Small Businesses who use Macs. As a small business owner/sole proprietor, connecting with customers is hard. There are all sorts of communication tools available, with social media […]

mail_envelope

Welcome to a new monthly series from TheAppleBlog. Each month we will cover a a specific topic specific to Small Businesses who use Macs.

As a small business owner/sole proprietor, connecting with customers is hard. There are all sorts of communication tools available, with social media being the most prevalent today. However, as old-school as it might seem, email is still the killer-app for the web. And, given that, you must have a strategy to connect with your customers via email. Thankfully, there are many tools on the Mac available to help you do just that.

What type of email campaigns might you use? Some examples might include:

  • Marketing Slicks
  • Press Releases
  • Newsletters
  • Advertisements
  • And more

For the purpose of this article, let’s look at both Pro editions of Direct Mail from e3 Software and MaxBulk Mailer from MaxProg. Both applications are relatively easy to use, although I found Direct Mail to be a little easier to work with overall. Each version has more features than their basic counterparts. To see a comparison list between the standard and pro features, please read here (Direct Mail) and here (MaxBulk).

Direct Mail Pro 2.2.3

When you first launch Direct Mail Pro, you receive a warning about sending SPAM. This is noteworthy, because of the two apps, only Direct Mail Pro mentions this as a potential issue.

SPAM nanny screen from Direct Mail

Upon agreement, you are presented with the main application and can see the options available. Direct Mail Pro automatically detects and uses any email accounts already present on your computer. To get started, I created a sample email (I copied the HTML from another email) and then added Mail Merge tags for the date and first name (there are tags available):

Direct Mail Initial Window with an example Email - credit comes from U2.com

Direct Mail Pro integrates with the Address Book, Microsoft Entourage and Daylite (as well as others) so that you can easily add users or groups. Once the users are added, click Send Message…

Direct Mail Pro includes (for a significant upgrade fee of $60) an email delivery service if you would rather not use your own email account.

Send Message Dialog Box

After you click Send, you’ll receive another SPAM warning. In some ways, this is irritating, although I can understand the precaution from the developer. Frankly, there should be an option to not see this dialog box.

SPAM nanny dialog box, round II

With the included e3 Delivery Service in Direct Mail Pro, you can track emails and view reports that include the email message, statistics, any hyperlinks, if the email was received by its audience as well as any potential bounced emails:

Direct Mail Pro History Tab with Reports/Results

MaxBulk Mailer Pro 7.1

When compared to Direct Mail Pro, MaxBulk Mailer Pro is a similar, yet different animal. MaxBulk takes a more hands-on approach to solving the email campaign problem. There is much more configuration involved than Direct Mail Pro, and with that configuration comes a little more flexibility.

There are no SPAM warnings when you first run MaxBulk Mailer Pro. The application window is very similar to Direct Mail Pro in that you have main some main tabs and simple toolbar for managing your email creation. In the example below, I have created a plain text email and provided some initial tags and specified formatting.

MaxBulk Mailer Pro Message Window with Tags

Unlike Direct Mail Pro, you do have to configure your email settings in the Settings tab. This is more cumbersome and can take some trial and error to ensure you have the right configuration prior to sending your message. Further, there is a preview tab that displays what the final message will look like and allows you to render your message in a browser.

Once your message has been sent, you receive a confirmation email with the relevant statistics:

MaxBulk Mailer Pro Delivery Report

A unique feature to MaxBulk Mailer Pro is that you can configure your own server to process the results of any email campaigns you send (this takes a little more configuration and advanced knowledge of database and FTP setup). Compared to Direct Mail Pro which includes its e3 Delivery service (and for a $60 premium), this is a nice feature.

MaxBulk Mailer Pro MLM Installation Dialog Box

Conclusion

Are you a do-it-yourselfer or do you like tools that do the work for you? If you’re the former, then I recommend MaxBulk Mailer. If you’re the latter, then I recommend Direct Mail Pro. Of course, there are other factors you need to consider, including:

Pricing

  • MaxBulk Mailer Pro is $59.90, which includes the ability to track email messages that you set up on your own server.
  • Direct Mail Pro is $119, but it includes the ability to track email messages, handle bounced emails and more without any extra work on your end.

Application Integration

  • Native: Apple Address Book, Microsoft Entourage, Apple Mail, CSV files and more.
  • Via a separate plugin, you can import contacts from Marketcircle’s Daylite as well.

As for me, I chose Direct Mail Pro. I find the product is more polished and it makes email creation and management easier. In the end, I don’t think you will fail to accomplish your customer communication goal with either program.

FTC Disclaimer: Not-for-resale copies were provided for this review.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. I use mailchimp.com almost daily- however not really to market my business so much as to keep up communications within my cub scout pack and church. The tools you get are very nice and the web interface is very well done. You can design the emails from scratch, use a template (and easily alter it), or upload a custom designed template.

    Free if you have a mailing list of 500 or less and send less than 3k emails per month. Paid plans are very affordable.

    1. Matthew Bookspan Barry Monday, December 21, 2009

      Barry – thanks for the comment. The focus of the series is on Mac-based, not web-based software. So, these applications are both options for those who prefer desktop (Mac) software.

  2. The biggest problem with sending business email is not the software, it’s getting it delivered and not getting blacklisted as a spammer.

    And some Internet Service Providers won’t permit large amounts of email to be sent if you have Shared Hosting, which many small businesses use to put up their website.

    As someone who consults on Internet Marketing I NEVER recommend a small business send bulk email from their own email address. One-to-one and personal messages are fine, it’s bulk email that can cause problems.

    There are low cost Email Service Providers (ESP) who are much better suited to handle the bulk email and auto-responder email for a small business.

    They do all the work to maintain a clean reputation with email services like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. to make sure any email coming from their systems gets delivered.

    A good ESP will provide software to build and send the messages, check if they will pass spam filters (you would be surprised what words flag you as spam), and make sure you are fully CAN-SPAM compliant.

    The really good ones also have video training on best practices for sending email and telephone support to help you with any problems.

    Services start at $20/month and range up to $70 per month for a system that will also send postcards as part of an automated follow up system.

    The top 2 I currently recommend are:

    1. Send Pepper (www.SendPepperTrial.com)
    2. Aweber (www.Aweber.com)

    There are others such as Constant Contact, but I found these to be a bit too limited in what you can do for my tastes, though some people like them for just that reason.

    Cheers,

    Craig

    1. @Craig: Agree 100%. I started out using desktop software and quickly found it’s a nightmare. Email delivery is a service well worth paying for. And really glad to see you put Send Pepper in the same class as Aweber — I’m evaluating both right now. Thanks, Craig.

  3. As an alternative to paying a service, Mailings (by Limit Point Software) lets me to use my shared hosting company to send email campaigns by throttling the volume to stay within shared hosting policy email guidelines. I like it because it let’s you create an html page using any application you want (including iWeb), and automatically sets the correct links to your linked images online. You also get a plain text alternative for the html impaired, and has nice list management and reporting as well.

  4. Direct Mail is absolutely brilliant, I got it as part of a macheist bundle and have found it so useful ever since. It nearly always gets through, the stats functions are amazing and to build great HTML emails you just build the mail in rapidweaver using boxblocks, upload it to your website as a hidden page and then give Direct Mail the web address. I’m sure if you are more technically competent than me you can also do a lot better!

    It is a simply awesome program- I am neither in marketing nor web dev but I do use it a lot, especially when you need to know that a mail has gotten through.

  5. I think that the days of email being legitimate for ANYTHING are over.

    I rarely get any email from a business that is actually legit. Almost every piece of junk I get, goes to the Junk mail.

    Anything these apps do, whether legitimate or not, will most likely get the same treatment. Junk/Spam.

    Sorry, but so much spam comes into my house on my email addy’s that it is a task every 15 to 20 minutes to empty the junk folder because I got another 20-30 emails I have never requested and are basically about bigger junk in my trunk or how I can sf 87% on my meeds.

    There are plenty of ways to get to people for sales. But email to a customer, most likely will be met with the same reaction I have. Spam it.

  6. After years using MaxBulk Mailer I can say it works very well. The last version 7 solved some stability problems.

  7. This Small Biz Corner column has been very helpful. The links to these apps and the BusyCal calendaring program have saved me days of trying new, mediocre software and led me to some gems.

    Thanks!

Comments have been disabled for this post