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The 'ListBot Dilemma' and List Hosting Alternatives

By Angela Wu
Posted Saturday, January 15, 2005

I'm disgusted.

On June 22, 2001, one of the most popular list hosts announced that it was replacing it's excellent service with a 'new and improved' version. We have to save all our subscriber lists and archives by August 20, or they'll be lost forever - unless, of course, we upgrade to their new service.

You might already know that I'm talking about ListBot. Yes, the extremely popular ListBot is to be replaced with something called 'ListBuilder'.

Now I don't begrudge them for eliminating the 'free ListBot'; they're a business, after all, and they have to try to remain profitable. What bothers me is that they don't seem to care one whit about what this means to their customers - free AND paying customers.

Let me add that they had a lot of loyal customers - people who loved their service and were willing, even happy, to pay for it. I was one of them ... until recently.

This change has a big effect on those of us who used ListBot to manage our newsletters. Our ListBot subscription links will now be defunct. In other words, years of hard work promoting our subscription links - in articles, eBooks, links, and so on - are completely *wasted*.

THAT is why I'm disgusted. It's hard to believe that ListBot would behave so callously towards their loyal, paying fans.

My trust is broken. I loved ListBot. I *don't*, however, love what they've done. So instead of upgrading to their new ListBuilder service, I went looking for another solution.

SCRIPTS
~~~~~~~~

One option is to purchase a script to manage your list. Two such examples are:

== Opt-in Lightning, (http://www.optinlightning.com/) == Mail Master Pro, (http://www.cgitoolbox.com/package.html)

With scripts, there's a number of things to consider. For example, does your web host allow you to install and run scripts? Is there an extra charge for doing so? Do you know how to install a script - or know someone who can do it for you?

On the good side, once installed, your list management is completely under your control. No more relying on another company to handle your newsletter! You typically pay a one-time purchase fee for the script (and possibly the installation as well) and it's yours to use forever.

FREE LIST HOSTS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ListBot used to have a free version (ad-supported). If you're determined to only use a free list host, two of the most popular are:

== Yahoo Groups, (http://groups.yahoo.com/) == Topica, (http://www.topica.com/)

If, however, you choose to use a free service, be aware that although they're free *now*, they may not *remain* free. At any time they could choose to start charging for their services (like so many previously 'free' online services have done) ... or they could withdraw services altogether.

Heck, ListBot was run by Microsoft. If Microsoft couldn't make it work, how much longer do you think these other services will remain free?

FEE-BASED LIST HOSTS
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While searching for a solution to my 'ListBot dilemma', I came across a large number of list hosts. What I was looking for was a host that could provide all the usual newsletter management features, along with reliability and a strong dedication to customer service.

In terms of money, fee-based list hosts usually work on a subscription basis. You pay a fee periodically (every month, quarter, or year, for example) in exchange for the ability to send a certain number of messages each month. Some list hosts will charge you based on how many messages you send (for example, $1 for every 1000 messages).

Two list hosts that were highly recommended to me are:

== SparkList, (http://www.sparklist.com/services/hosting/) == ListChannel, (http://buildyourhomebiz.com/listchannel.html)

I finally chose to go with ListChannel (SparkList has a minimum of $50/month, which is more than I want to spend). So far I'm happy with ListChannel: it's fast, reliable, and their customer service is consistently prompt and helpful.

If you're a 'ListBot Refugee', ListChannel has set up a special discount for you (good only until August 20, 2001): (http://buildyourhomebiz.com/listbotspecial.html)

About the Author
Angela is the editor of the Netrepreneur's Notebook Ezine, a newsletter for online business 'newbies'. Pick up your free subscription today by visiting (http://buildyourhomebiz.com/newsletter.html)