Small Biz Corner: Email Campaign Software

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.

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