The two kinds of email: marketing and transactional, and the need to manage this has resulted in a proliferation of solutions from various providers. Marketing email consists of messages to the customer from the organization; transactional are messages to the customer by the computer system (e.g., invoices, receipts, email list confirmations, contact form submission confirmations, unsubscribe confirmations, etc.) All of these solutions are quite expensive, and to a large degree lacking. Why is this the case? How have we come to this, after decades of very simple systems?
Simplicity is in the Requirements
In order to simplify, we need to keep to some very basic requirements:
By secure we mean relatively hardened and trusted. This mean the basic mail server needs to be configured properly and effectively, but also the various cues and clues to legitimate sending and receiving: DNS DKIM and SPF. Email systems should not allow third-party relaying (of course) and in no way give off signals of being insecure (that is, get on blacklists for spamming).
Also by secure we mean that the emails (and any associated transactional or marketing data) are themselves stored securely, sent securely, and assured of delivery, as well as visibility into any errors that occur.
Basically we want open source software and the ability to run the systems ourselves, as well as the option to outsource it at or below the time-cost of self-management.
There are only a few actual needs for mailing list management, because of the fairly straightforward lifecycle of lists:
- Subscribe via a form on the website
- Integrate with other forms/ecommerce to auto-add
- Double opt-in (for both self-initiated and transaction-initiated)
- One-click unsubscribe
- Multiple lists
- Open and click tracking of messages
- Simple graphs with comparisons of previous messages
- Hard/soft bounce behavior management