A newsletter reader this week asked about a problem he was having receiving this newsletter. As part of my answer, I mentioned that I spend several thousand dollars a year for a bulk mailing service to send these newsletters. The reader expressed surprise and asked, "Why can't you just mail 'em out like regular email from your home/office computer?"
I sent the answer to him. However, I suspect that other subscribers do not know that sending out thousands of e-mail messages entails "special problems;" so, I thought I would share the answer with everyone. If you are planning to send out newsletters from your genealogy society or other organization, you may have to use the same methods that I do.
There are two reasons why I use a specialized mailing service instead of sending newsletters as regular mail:
1. Anyone using a standard e-mail program on a high-speed broadband connection can send 3 or 4 e-mail messages per minute, assuming your Internet provider or e-mail provider can handle the load. With 25,000 subscribers, it takes 5 or 6 DAYS to send 25,000 e-mail messages. For anyone on a 56K dial-up connection, it will require 2 or 3 WEEKS to send 25,000 e-mail messages. That makes it tough to send a daily newsletter!
Admittedly, there are specialized bulk mailing programs for a PC that can send more than 3 or 4 messages per minute, but they will never approach the throughput of a specialized bulk mail server sitting on a high-speed OC-3 connection to the Internet backbone.
2. Sending 25,000 e-mail messages all at once will overload a normal mail server. About ten years ago, when I first started this newsletter, I only had a few hundred subscribers, and I did send each newsletter from my desktop PC using a regular e-mail program. I was using the mail server of a local dial-up Internet provider at the time. The number of subscribers grew to about 2,000, and I began to realize that every time I sent the newsletters, my Internet provider's mail server quit working. I called the Internet provider up and asked what was going on. The customer service person exclaimed, "You're the one!"
It seems I was the reason their mail server was crashing. Sending 2,000 e-mail messages all at once crashed the mail server. The Internet provider immediately canceled my account and suddenly I had no Internet service. That was both embarrassing and disastrous for me.
Today's mail servers are hopefully more crash-resistant than those of ten years ago, but sending thousands of e-mails through anyone's general-purpose mail server still will create problems. Instead of using a normal mail server, bulk mail messages such as this newsletter are typically sent by special mail servers designed for the purpose. These bulk mail servers only send mail; they do not receive it.
The list of addressees is typically kept on the bulk mail server. The person sending the newsletter then sends only one e-mail message to a "special address" on the bulk mail server or else uploads the message via a file transfer. The bulk mail server then sends copies of that one e-mail message to everyone on the mailing list.
Any newsletters you receive are probably sent by bulk mail servers. Sadly, so is spam mail. Sending thousands of newsletters or other legitimate messages has become more difficult over the years as spam mail filters now scrutinize incoming bulk mail messages closely.
You can find many companies that specialize in sending legitimate, non-spam bulk mail. Prices vary widely, as do results. Some of the services are better than others at "punching through" spam filters. Delivery speeds also vary. Some companies will guarantee to send all your messages within minutes after you send the first one. Other services may take 6 to 12 hours to deliver the thousands of messages.
I recently switched the free Standard Edition from a very expensive service to one that is much more cost-effective. In fact, the switch also allowed for changing to a daily delivery at a lower price than weekly deliveries. The drawback is that the messages now take hours to deliver versus a very few minutes on the previous bulk mail service. The switch to the lower-priced service should reduce my bulk mailing expenses by more than $4,000 per year.
The Plus Edition newsletter remains on the high-cost (and high-quality) bulk mailing service and is still sent once a week. It gets delivered within a very few minutes after I send each weekly edition.
For more information about bulk mail services, perform a Google search by going to http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=bulk+mail+service&btnG=Google+Search