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How do I email a personalized newsletter, and comply with new ISP limitations?
Question: I have a mailing list that I send newsletters and announcements to on a regular basis, but recently a few of them have started to complain about their email address being visible to other members of the mailing, in the Cc list. Is there an easy way to send each newsletter individually to each address on my mailing list?
I'd also like to personalize the newsletters, so that each person receives an email with their own name in it. For example, I'd like each newsletter to start with "Dear [FirstName]," and include each person’s actual first name. Is this possible?
Lastly, my ISP recently placed restrictions on the number of email messages I can send out at a time. This means I have to spread out the mailings to avoid getting my account closed or my messages marked as spam. Is there a program that can automate this for me?
Answer: Newsletters are a very popular and effective way to communicate with friends, family, customers and potential customers. One way to personalize each newsletter and also keep email addresses private is to use mail merge. Mail merge takes your message and inserts each contact's first and last name at a designated point in the email. Then it sends the newsletter indidivudally to each contact in your mailing list.
Microsoft Word has a built-in mail merge feature that will do this for you with a moderate level of complexity. Here's their tutorial titled Word mail merge: A walk through the process
Mail merge with Word won't help you with the last issue though – time delays for each message. Many Internet Service Providers limit the number of outbound email messages to only a few a minute, and flag your account for spam abuse if more than a small number of messages are sent per hour.
That means you'll either need to spend a lot of time at the computer sending your newsletter to small groups of recipients at a time, or find a program that can automate this for you.
PC iMail is a mail merge program that was developed with ISP limitations in mind. It lets you set a time delay on outgoing messages, and handles mail merge fields in both the message body and the message subject (something Word can't handle at all).
If you already have contacts in Outlook or Exchange Server, PC iMail will import those contacts and add them to your mailing list. It will also import email addresses from a text file or web page, which makes it easy to build mailing lists from just about any data source.
PC iMail can also search for return messages that contain the word "Remove" in the subject, and can automatically remove those addresses from the mailing list. This gives your newsletter recipients an easy way to remove themselves from your mailing list.
Here's a helpful article for using PC iMail: How to send a mail merge press release or newsletter (without Outlook or Word)
Here's a link to download PC iMail
And one last word of advice: It's a lot more common to send newsletters in HTML format, as most people have email programs that can open an HTML message just as if it was a regular web page. This lets you include pictures, colors, and interesting fonts that make your newsletter much more exciting to read. Both Word and PC iMail will let you send your mail merge message in HTML format.