I’ve tried quite a few open source email marketing solutions from Mailman, to PHPMailer, to poMMo and they all suck for one reason or another. Here are my reasons why:
1. They are self hosted solutions
In my experience, self hosting email marketing rarely works out well. Most hosting providers have tight limits on how many emails can be sent per hour from a given domain. A somewhat average limit of 300 emails/hour implies that it would take nearly 17 hours to email a list of 5,000 addresses. While that could be acceptable in certain circumstances, it is less than ideal for a big marketing push or product launch. Hit 10,000+ addresses and you are talking in days, not hours. No good for my clients!
2. They have clunky and non-intuitive interfaces
I’m a big supporters of open source software, but have yet to see an open source email marketing tool that has been as slick as the likes of Campaign Monitor or MailChimp. When passing off open source software to a client, pray they are somewhat technology proficient or you’ll have a support nightmare on your hands. The best client interface we’ve seen to date is poMMo, but it still leaves much to be desired.
3. They lack crucial features for professional use
To be usable by a business with any sizable email address list, an email marketing tool has a few “must-have” features:
- Email throttling
- Intuitive and simple administration interface
- Elegant WYSIWYG email editor (with the ability to hand-edit HTML if necessary)
- Automated bounce handling
- Comprehensive analytical tools to measure campaign success
4. There is no strong community
Unlike many other great open source projects, we’ve found much to be desired in the communities for the top open source email solutions. This makes support and bug fixes a disaster zone.
It’s my opinion that most clients that are serious about doing email marketing should be ready to pay for it. The added benefits of using a high quality tool are well worth the price. My favorite? Campaign Monitor by a mile.