Garrett St. John

I am a web developer and partner at Bold. This is where I share my thoughts, discoveries and other random bits.

poMMo: Open Source Email Marketing Software

August 12, 2009

Occasionally I have some smaller clients that want to use self-hosted email marketing software. Although not typically advisable, I have given in for some clients with small subscriber lists (the idea being that it will get them started and they can upgrade to a paid tool down the road).

Up until last week, I was really pretty disappointed with many of the open source email marketing software options. In the past I have implemented GNU Mailman as well as PHPMailer-ML for my clients, but each of these has their major downfalls. Mailman just feels way too bulky, takes too much hand editing for configuration, and is a beast for client training. PHPMailer-ML was simple to configure, but had a pretty clunky interface. I also ran into some issues with the database connection being dropped while sending leaving us no clue where it left off. So the search for a great free email marketing solution continued. Enter poMMo.

poMMo is very easy to configure and has a decent looking, easy-to-use interface. There is one configuration file that really only required MySQL database connection information and the system is off and running. It self-installs and does it in a way that it could be run “out-of the box”. Of course I do customize the HTML emails for my customers, but that was just as easy with its email template feature.

Here are some of the features I like about poMMo:

  • Email throttling (by total emails sent and by destination domain)
  • Auto generated HTML subscription forms
  • Custom field collection (First Name, Last Name, City, State, etc.)
  • Groups for mailing a subset of the full subscriber list
  • HTML and Text-Only email options
  • Email history stored as HTML pages for archiving. This is great for mail reader issues with HTML.

Known Issues and Desired Features

  • There is an issue with the admin interface in Firefox where the body of the content falls below the sidebar. This is just a small CSS issue that can be fixed with some slight tweaking.
  • The system is set up to have an email address that receives bounces, but there is no automated bounce processor. It would be nice if it could automatically unsubscribe invalid addresses after a set number of bounces.
  • When composing emails, poMMo uses FCKeditor to allow for advance editing. The software doesn’t display the ‘Source’ button to view the email as HTML. This would be nice for advanced users that want to hand manipulate their email’s HTML. Just a small hang up.

Update: I have been using poMMo for a solid month now with one of our clients and unfortunately can no longer recommend it as a high-quality piece of email marketing software. It appears to have been out of active development for some time (Latest release was Apr 03 2008) and while there is a community around poMMo, it’s limited in its ability to support issues.

Update: There has been new development activity on poMMo by a group of developers. Although I can’t speak to what their plans are with the software, they are taking suggestions. Check out the project on github.