Email newsletters are a great way to engage with your community, keep them warm, and close sales. Some businesses are giving up on newsletters because they haven’t figured out how to use them while others are just entering the scene.
They continue to work great for me and I’ve used many service providers over the past few years. Here’s what you should be looking for when choosing a provider. (Some affiliate links below).
The main reason you should use a professional service to send emails is to keep your emails out of your recipient’s spam folders. When you put more than about ten people in the “To” or especially the “BCC” field in one email, there’s a decent chance many of your emails will be marked as spam.
When you use a reputable email service such as iContact, Aweber, Mailchimp, or Constant Contact, your emails have a much higher chance to being delivered to the right place. Too many people worry about open rates when they should first be concerned about getting emails delivered in the first place.
You want to grow your newsletter list, right? Professional emails include links at the bottom of each email you send to update your subscription and to unsubscribe.
When you don’t provide a link to unsubscribe people might get mad. To make matters worse, many of those people won’t tell you they’re upset. They’re just mad enough to hate you for sending them junk (in their eyes of course) but not mad enough to ask to be removed. Please, give people the option. I’m usually one of those people.
Oh, if you need another reason, the law requires you to include an unsubscribe link.
Features and benefits of an email service
Are email templates provided? Can you edit or upload your own template?
Constant Contact and iContact both include good survey tools. Mailchimp and iContact allow you to share updates to your social network which is a nice feature I’ve been using lately with good success.
Auto-responders can be a very cool option. Our Financial Coaching clients are added to an auto-responder when they start working with us. They receive an automated email at the end of every month reminding them to complete their budget, update their insurance, and save money in a few areas. Each email is customized and allows us to provide touch points while they’re working with us, and we don’t have to spend a lot of time doing it. We deliver these emails through iContact without a template so it looks just like a regular email.
Aweber has been the gold standard for email marketing many years running. Here’s the scenario I like in a marketing funnel. A new visitor joins your newsletter for free. They automatically receive a 30-day auto-responder that provides value and encourages them to buy your ebook along the way.
As soon as they buy, Aweber removes them from that auto-responder (why try to sell an eBook to someone who already bought) and adds them to another auto-responder of your choice. Yeah, very cool and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I use Aweber to deliver emails at Need a Topic. With the amount of programming and automation going on, few other providers could handle it.
How often can you send? iContact allows you to send six time your subscriber base each month. If you have 1,000 subscribers you can send 6,000 emails. That’s plenty for most people, but Need a Topic is delivered three times per week, or about 12 times per month. Aweber allows me to send an unlimited number.
Pricing is similar as your list grows. Mailchimp is interesting because you’re allowed 500 subscribers for free. If you’re keeping your list small, go for it, but it does tend to be more on the expensive side as you grow.
Aweber is a bit more on the expensive side, but if you’re doing anything with ecommerce, it’s my top pick.
Update: iContact now offers a free edition similar to Mailchimp.
I use iContact for my regular newsletter as I have for many years. I started with Constant Contact but left for a more robust platform. Constant Contact has added many of the features I was missing years ago, but they’re still a bit more expensive.
If ecommerce, fully featured autoresponders, or a technical project are your thing, give Aweber a try.
If you like a lot of social tools (I don’t use many of them) and want to keep your list on the small side, Mailchimp is a great way to go.
The most important thing to remember is not to switch around. Pick one and stay there. I can tell you from first hand experience, if you switch providers you’ll lose a big portion of subscribers.
Due to anti-spam laws you want people to double opt-in. That means verifying their email address when they join. You don’t want people on your list who don’t want to be there, so make sure you’re using this feature. Many providers even require it.
Who do you use for your list?
Image credit xeeliz