Raise your mailing list service or use ready-made solutions? What I learned over 5 years at UniSender
When I joined UniSender, it was not entirely clear to me why customers were paying money. It seemed that everyone could pick up his mailer and send letters from him. But understanding came to me very quickly. Let's try to figure out what I was wrong 5 years ago.
I came to the company as a leading admin. Now I lead the department of Infrastructure & DevOps. The mail sending system is one of my areas of responsibility.
What thought before
I carry all my things with me - this is normal. You can independently configure mail and SPF with DKIM (yeah, I even knew such clever abbreviations). You do not need to pay for it. What turned out to be: yes, you can set up mail. But this system is only suitable for small shipments.
You can "play around" and get experience. What turned out: you need to play a lot, but this experience does not sell well.
For 5 years of work in email marketing, I completely changed my mind (and not only because I get paid for it!). I will try to explain why my service for sending letters is not always a good idea.
What you need to raise your mailing list service
I'll start from the technical side. Raising your mailing list service is difficult - this is just a short list of what you will need to do:
- Raise the database to store information about subscribers.
- Raise an SMTP server that can not only send but also receive emails. Many mailers use sender verification, and for each message they will try to send an email to your server in response.
- Write spam blocking software. In UniSender, it is self-made.
- Connect IP addresses.
- Configure physical servers and communication channels to transfer data.
- Hire a designer and layout designer who will make beautiful templates for letters.
- Check how these templates look in real mailers. Believe me, if you ever raise this topic with our designers, then learn a lot of unfamiliar obscene words.
- Write simple software that will send the created letter to contacts.
- If you need tracking or custom fields in letters, then the software from the previous paragraph (which is no longer simple) should be able to work with templates and modify all found links.
- Raise a web server that can handle modified links from emails.
- And then monitor everything, monitor, monitor ...
A team of 10-15 people will be able to raise such a service in 8-10 months. But this is provided that everyone understands everything and the work is constantly being done.
The price of such a decision depends on the number of people in the team, their professionalism and the amount of features needed. Let's say 10 people with an average rate of $ 2,500 will cost $ 25,000 per month. For 10 months only $ 250,000 will be spent on the team’s salary.
Yes, with this option, you can easily adjust the service to your needs. But is it worth it? More often it is much more profitable to use ready-made solutions, and to cut your own only when these tools are not enough.
Than a ready-made mailing service is better
There are tools for working with newsletters
It’s just that few people are interested in letters, email marketers need tools for creating templates, mailing statistics, conversations, ready-made integration and the possibility of personalization. For example, here are some tools you can find on most mailing list services:
- Block editors of letters.
- Templates for newsletters.
- Convenient interface for working with the subscriber database.
- Integration with third-party services without API.
- The ability to send a series of letters in response to the actions of subscribers on the site.
- Custom fields for substitution in letters.
- Additional channels: Viber, chat bots, SMS.
- And much, much more: subscription form designers, split tests, account sharing.
Previously, these functions were considered advanced, but now without them it’s hard to imagine a distribution service. To realize all this on your own, you will have to spend a lot of time and money.
Less likely to get spam
There is little information on the Internet about how a mailer works with large providers.
Yes, the SMTP protocol is described along and across. But nowhere is there an instruction "how to get into your inbox." Many services offer advice on this topic, but they focus more often on Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail. Some of their recommendations only worsen delivery in Mail.Ru and Yandex.Mail.
And also letters can get into spam for no apparent reason.
How to say. There are reasons, many of them are familiar to us, but sometimes we also don’t understand why everything was delivered to Gmail, and everything in spam on Yandex. In this case, you need to contact the support of the mail service and find out the reason. They usually answer for a long time, and sometimes they do not answer at all.
The newsletter service will tell you what can be improved in the newsletter so that letters do not fall into spam. In addition, we analyze the statistics on the service actually realtime, and quickly respond if the deliverability falls somewhere.
We have established regular contact with most providers - we can quickly and efficiently solve the problem if the newsletter is already in spam.
Easier to solve the problem of getting into blacklists
Anyone from your subscribers may complain (often - even for no reason), and then the IP address may end up in the blacklist .
You need to contact the blacklist administration to be excluded from the list. Usually this process takes from an hour to 1-2 weeks. And all this time you will not send letters.
A specialized service usually has a lot of IPs that are constantly monitored for inclusion in black lists. We can safely disconnect problematic IP addresses from work until the circumstances are clarified and the problem is resolved.
You will be helped with the first newsletter
Many users do not know where to start mailing. It’s not clear how to work with the database, what domain and mail settings are needed, why emails get into spam. Many clients who contact UniSender have problems with the database: nonexistent addresses, spam traps , duplicate contacts. Most often, the very first newsletter on such a database is blocked.
The mailing service will help you figure out where to start mailing. You can write technical support for any question, for many requests there is already a ready-made answer in the Knowledge Base or blog.
Even in the mailing list service it is convenient to check the database before the first shipment. For example, UniSender provides information about invalid contacts in the database. If you delete them, the newsletter is less likely to get into spam.
When you still need your own mailing service
I know only one situation when the launch of my mailing service is justified - if the company has high requirements for the storage of user personal data. It can be banks, financial institutions or government agencies. If the rules prohibit the transfer of personal data to third-party artists, you will not be able to use the ready-made newsletter service.
If at the same time the company does not need tracking, substitutions and beautiful HTML letters, then it will be really easier to raise your decision.
There are also hybrid options when the SMTP server and IP addresses are provided by the service, and the user interface is formed on the company side. Typically, such functionality is implemented in the mailing list transport services. UniSender also has one, called UniOne . In short, what is the difference between UniOne and UniSender: It’s
cheaper to send via transport services than through full-fledged mailing services
UniOne was developed as a service for sending transactional letters, but you can also send regular mailings through it. It all depends on the capabilities of the user interface that developers create.
When is UniOne needed and how does it work
? What needs to be done to configure this interface:
- Choose a ready-made email editor or at least an html editor. In the second case, you have to come to terms with the fact that letters will be displayed differently on different devices.
- Write a code and make a visual part for working with the contact database.
- Make integration with the transport service - namely, send there and receive delivery results from there.
- If you need to collect statistics on mailings, then this information will also need to be stored somewhere.
To create a user interface for a transport service, usually a team of 5 people and 2-3 months of time is enough. But provided that this is a full cycle team.
- Raising your mailing list service is difficult, long and expensive. In most cases, it’s easier to use a ready-made solution.
- Companies with a strict personal data policy need their mailing list service. If the contacts cannot be transferred to third-party performers, you need to think about your own solution.
- In some cases, it is more convenient to use transport services to send letters. The entire infrastructure is already implemented, we only need to connect to it via the API.