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Infacta GroupMail v5.2

E-mail marketing is, as the name suggests, the use of e-mail in marketing communications. Critical for the success of most modern businesses, the term covers every e-mail you ever send to a customer, potential customer or public venue. In general, though, most business users utilise e-mail to sending direct promotional messages to try and acquire new customers or persuade existing customers to buy again, or send e-mails designed to encourage customer loyalty and enhance the customer relationship. Just remember not to spam your customers!

E-mail marketing is essentially the electronic equivalent of direct mail or sending people a printed newsletter. E-mail marketing is so popular because sending e-mail is much cheaper than most other forms of communication and an e-mail lets you deliver your message directly to people (unlike a Web site, where people have to come to your message). E-mail marketing has proven very successful for those who do it right, but you need the right tools to do it. GroupMail is one such program.

Different versions
Confusingly, GroupMail is available in four different editions. GroupMail Free Edition is the most basic version and can be downloaded at no cost and used as long as you want. Suited to the home user or sole trader who only intends to send to smaller groups, this version of GroupMail has most of the features you will need to get you started with group messaging. Next up is GroupMail Personal Edition ($139). Reviewed here, GroupMail Personal Edition lets you manage groups and lists of any size and you can send to them at speeds much faster than GroupMail Free Edition using multiple connections. You can even send direct to your recipients without the need for an SMTP Mail server, and you get a range of add-ons to help manage and maintain your groups more easily.

Based on GroupMail Personal Edition, GroupMail Business Edition ($349) is designed for higher volume tasks and is suited to business users. GroupMail Business Edition can send almost 100 times faster than the Personal Edition using up to 256 simultaneous connections and incorporates cool features like database direct linking and importing (ADO/OLEDB/ODBC), scheduling, queuing, background sending, Outlook integration, routing, XML document support, and much more. Finally, GroupMail Marketing Pack ($699) is best suited to creating, sending, managing and tracking your opt-in newsletters and e-mail marketing campaigns. It also provides real-time opening and click-through reports that help you measure campaigns.

GroupMail has tons of features to help you create an effective e-mail campaign. To begin, just select your server type, either DNS or SMTP, then the program wizard will quickly guide you through the set up process. You can make your e-mail list manually by entering each name and other details like e-mail address, or import them from an Excel spreadsheet. Both GroupMail Personal and the Business versions are equipped to handle a list of unlimited e-mail addresses.

With GroupMail you can send professional-looking messages that are personalised for each of your recipients, manage an unlimited number of fully customisable groups/lists with an unlimited number of recipients in each, and keep your valuable recipient details private and completely secure. A lot of e-mail software will happily let you show your whole mailing list in the e-mail headers (To or CC field) of the messages that you are sending. GroupMail will never allow this to happen. Your recipients will only see their own e-mail address in the headers of messages you send them. Not only that, you can host e-mail addresses on the behalf of others using multiple sender profiles. GroupMail has all of the basic formatting options like bold, italic, underline, justification, changing font size, colour and type, and image support – and looks just like Outlook.

You can run and maintain CAN-SPAM compliant newsletters with automated subscription, removal and filtering support, as well as send messages directly to your recipients from your desktop, or through a dedicated e-mail server using multiple connections. The software works with all major corporate e-mail systems and it handles bounces automatically. Other neat features include the ability to send personalised wireless mobile SMS text messages to recipients using an e-mail to SMS gateway tool, the facility to prepare and schedule messages for delivery any time in the future, and extended functionality through a range of add-ons.

Working with GroupMail is relatively painless. The interface is clean and uncluttered and the online Help system is clear and well presented. When it comes to creating a mailing list, which the software calls a Group, you need to set up fields in each Group to store contact details and other data for each recipient in the Group (for example: name, address, phone number, etc.). The information in these fields is then used to personalise messages for each recipient. You can have multiple groups, and particular recipients can be included in multiple groups or excluded from certain groups. At a minimum, each Group must store the e-mail address of the recipients.

The Task List, on the left side of the window, contains the Groups options. The workspace lists the group names, the number of recipients, the group format type, and the path, if specified. You can view and manage Group members by double-clicking the Group name, and the View & Manage Recipients window opens with options for adding, modifying, deleting, copying, and moving members’ information. You can also update e-mail addresses, search for recipients, print a list of Group members, and sort any of the field names by clicking the column name.

GroupMail uses two types of Groups: GroupMail Format Groups and External Database Groups. GroupMail Format Groups store the recipient details locally on your PC or on a shared network folder, while External Database Groups link to a database you assign (not available in GroupMail Free Edition). You can import existing lists, address books, or databases for use in GroupMail. You can import common e-mail address books such as Outlook’s Personal Address Book (PAB), Outlook Express (WAB), Outlook 2002, Exchange Server/Other MAPI, and Global Address List (GAL). In addition, you can import data from text and binary files including Windows clipboard, as well as export recipients to an external file. Groups linked to an external database can be modified to change the group name, change the database connection, and redefine group contents such as specifying the database table to use, entering a SQL query, and specifying the field that holds an e-mail address.

Whether you are a small, medium or large business and you want to run an e-mail marketing campaign, GroupMail would be an ideal choice. The software looks nice, is easy to use, and has all the essential features. It boasts newsletter creating capabilities and its superior list handling easily takes care of possible issues like subscribe/unsubscribe, removals, deletes bounced e-mail addresses and so on. The software comes with many free plug-ins/add-ons which bring in nice features like automatic bounce handling, taking care of address violation issue, and many more things like that, and it can even send a 2-part MIME message for those recipients who can’t read HTML mails in their mail box. Its database integration capability is also one of the best.

If you need to manage an e-mail newsletter and don’t want to go with a subscription-based online solution, GroupMail is your tool. The only downside is that GroupMail is a local program that resides on your PC. While this could also be considered an advantage to some, the software does use a large amount of system resources to send personalised e-mails to thousands of recipients. As a result you might want to use a separate computer solely for newsletter management, or send your newsletters at night when you won’t be using your PC.

Reviewed by Christian Harris

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Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years’ publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.