Group email had been around for a long time, it even predates the Web by a few years. The first group email software which became LISTSERV was written in 1986 for IBM mainframes! So this is not a new technology and people have been finding group email lists useful for over 30 years.
At its simplest a group email list (or electronic discussion list) is a single email address which on receiving a message transparently sends a copy the subscribers of the list.
This allows groups of people to exchange messages with each other, usually around a common topic, with the minimal amount of overhead. There’s no need for each individual to maintain a list of member of the group since this is help centrally.
There are plenty of options when creating a group email list; Google Groups is a popular choice with many great features, it does require you and your subscribers to have Google+ accounts to get the most out of it however. Yahoo Groups has also been around for a long time and has many popular group on it.
If you want to control every detail of how your email group is ran you can run your own LISTSERV server either on your own hardware or hosted by someone else. This gives you complete control at a cost, with prices starting at a few hundred dollars per year and setup fess of a similar amount this is really for big lists where total control is required.
With the move towards cloud services Gaggle Mail has been leading a new breed of SaaS based group email services. Group email and cloud services are a good fit. They can offer a clean and simple web based UI to manage your list from desktop or mobile and they can run on commodity cloud based hardware to keep the cost down.
If you need a modern cost effective group email solution give Gaggle Mail a try, it’s free for 30 days then as little as $10 per year after that.