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Communicating with your customers and business associates via mailing lists

It is common for any small business to frequently communicate with a group of customers or business associates and send them mails related to new product launches, discount schemes, etc. When the mail to be sent is common for a group of email recipients, it becomes very convenient to create one of more lists of various groups of recipients. Once you create mailing lists, whenever you need to send a mail to all recipients in a list, just send the mail to the common email address for the mailing list and the mail will be sent out to all recipients.

In this article I will explain how you can setup Mailman, which is available by default in any cPanel hosting account, to create and manage your mailing lists. Mailman will send emails to multiple recipients while keeping each recipient's email address private.

Mailman is a free software, distributed under the GNU General Public License, and popularly used for managing email discussions and e-newsletter lists. It integrates well with the web and makes it easy for you to create and manage one or more lists of email addresses. Mailman includes lot of much needed features such as membership management, invitations, a customizable home page for each mailing list, archiving, bounce processing, content filtering, digest delivery, spam filters, etc.

Let us get started and create our first mailing list...

Login to the cPanel of your hosting account and scroll down to the Mail section. Click at the Mailing Lists icon.

The page that opens will provide a form where you can quickly provide your list's name and a password to access the list management interface. Fill up the details and click at Add Mailing List. Your first mailing list is created.

Go back and you will see the below information. Note that since we gave the list name as NewsletterSubscribers, the common email address for this list is newslettersubscribers@how2lab.com. Thus, any email sent by you to newslettersubscribers@how2lab.com will get sent to all email addresses that are included in this list.

Click at Manage link to open the list management screen for the newly created list. This will open the list management interface with a host of options. Spend some time to browse through each option link and configure the list as per your requirement. Detailed help link is provided against each configuration field which are not difficult to understand.

The following options are particularly important and need to be setup - General Options, Membership Management, Non-digest Options.

How to Add email addresses to the list?

Click at Membership Management >> Mass Subscription.

Add all recipient email addresses in the first box (one per line) and Submit Your Changes. Initially, just add a few of your own email addresses so that you can test the list mailings and tweak the settings.

Next, navigate to Non-digest Options and configure the Footer section.

The footer section will appear in all emails received by list members. You must make sure to allow recipients to manage their subscription so that, if they wish, they can unsubscribe from your mailing list. See the Manage Subscription line in the image below.

With the above setting, every mail will contain a footer section as shown below.

When the recipient clicks at the Manage Subscription link he will be taken to a subscription management page as shown below.

Now you are ready to use your mailing list. Send a test mail to the list email address. In this case it is newslettersubscribers@how2lab.com. Check the received email and re-configure your list parameters, if required.


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About the Author

Rajeev Kumar
CEO, Computer Solutions
Jamshedpur, India

Rajeev Kumar is the primary author of How2Lab. He is a B.Tech. from IIT Kanpur with several years of experience in IT education and Software development. He has taught a wide spectrum of people including fresh young talents, students of XLRI, industry professionals, and govt. officials.

Rajeev has founded Computer Solutions & WebServicesWorldwide.com, and has hands-on experience of building variety of web applications and portals, that include - SAAS based ERP & e-commerce systems, independent B2B, B2C, Matrimonial & Job portals, and many more.

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