We’re pleased to welcome our latest long-term TidBITS sponsor, e3 Software, makers of the Direct Mail email newsletter and marketing app for the Mac. At an individual level, email is easy, but it gets complicated once you want to build a list of recipients and send messages that go beyond text and a few simple graphics. Many people end up in that situation—perhaps you volunteer with a non-profit and want to send a monthly newsletter to a few hundred members. Or maybe you’re a consultant who wants to alert your clients to important security updates.
Direct Mail provides all the capabilities you need to grow your mailing list, compose attractive emails, send them with attention to deliverability, track their efficacy, collaborate with colleagues, automate responses, and integrate with other systems.
- Grow mailing lists: Direct Mail enables you to put subscribe forms on your website that sync with Direct Mail. You can also import existing contacts from other apps, CSV files, or databases. Subscribers can have custom fields, and you can target mailings to specific sub-groups to ensure people receive only appropriate messages. And, of course, Direct Mail supports one-click unsubscribe requests so you can be a good Internet citizen.
- Compose attractive emails: Creating HTML email is hard, so Direct Mail provides a gallery of professionally designed templates for you to customize. They display well on both desktop and mobile email clients, and a Design Test feature lets you preview screenshots of your message as it would look in over 50 email apps. You can even personalize messages with custom fields and add polls and surveys with results appearing in your campaign report.
- Send messages: The toughest part of sending email newsletters and marketing campaigns is deliverability. Direct Mail integrates with the e3 Delivery Service to provide optimal performance and deliverability—it supports SPF, Sender ID, DKIM, DMARC, and SMTP over TLS for email authentication—and manages bounces. You’re alerted to broken links and other mistakes before sending, and you can schedule messages for delivery at specific times. If necessary, Direct Mail can send through your own SMTP server too.
- Track efficacy: If you want to make sure your email is useful to recipients, Direct Mail can track opens, clicks, bounces, and unsubscribes, and it reports on the most popular links—all with real-time live updating. It also performs bounce and spam complaint processing to help you keep your list clean.
- Collaborate with colleagues: When you’re developing an email newsletter, you’ll likely want to work with others on it. The Direct Mail cloud enables sharing of projects with fine-grained permissions (view, edit, send), and it lets you keep working even when you’re offline, resuming syncing once you connect again.
- Automate responses: Direct Mail can create automatic messages that can respond to incoming emails, welcome new subscribers, send reminders about upcoming appointments, or send targeted follow-ups.
- Integrate with other services: No Mac is an island, and for more integration, you can use Zapier to connect Direct Mail with other Web services or have a developer create a custom solution using Direct Mail’s API.
The big win of using Direct Mail is that it’s a native Mac app with full support for numerous Apple technologies. Similar solutions are generally clumsy Web apps that run in your browser, putting them at the mercy of your Internet connection and making it all too easy to lose work by accidentally closing a tab.
I’ve lived in an email-centric world for much of my career, and while the scale of what we do with TidBITS (and did with Take Control before selling it to Joe Kissell) meant that it was worth investing in custom development, I can’t recommend that to most people. A Mac-native solution like Direct Mail will be far faster, easier, and cheaper.
You can download Direct Mail and use it to send up to 150 messages per month for free, which might be sufficient for some. For higher volumes of regular use, you can pay monthly for unlimited messages based on the number of subscribers. Or, if you send email infrequently, you can instead opt to pay by the number of messages.