Email Sending Programs: Which One Fits Your Needs?

Because I get this question often: “Which email sending program should I use?” I wanted to offer this basic comparison.

This article outlines features we’ve experienced at our firm and those  promoted by other reputable companies that some of our clients use. Details are found on each of their websites.

WHY DO YOU NEED AN EMAIL SENDING PROGRAM?

It is required in anti-spam laws to allow readers to opt-out of your enews if they wish. A regular enews sent through Outlook or other mail programs does not have an opt out program built-in, like these email sending programs below.

Most mail programs, like Outlook, will not allow you to email to a list over 30 people. These types of controls are set to try to avoid spam messages and the number of allowable emails is different in each mail sending program. So, if you send to 30 people, probably no one will receive your message. That’s what these programs (below) will help you understand.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Make sure an email campaign is the right strategy to bring you business! By itself, it’s very likely not sufficient. Typical email response rates are only 10-20%. That means only 10-20% even open your email, and most probably just skim it and don’t read the whole thing. So, before you spend hours and hours and many dollars on this tactic, make sure your content is  super creative, valuable, you truly know how to grow a large fan base – and your support marketing strategies are in place!

 

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How do you find that out?

If you need to know what actually works to build a market (and profits!) for your specific type of business, our customizable Signature Marketing Angel Program is the best value.

Curious if we’re qualified to help your business grow? Here’s our company profile.

 

WHICH EMAIL PROGRAM WORKS BEST FOR YOU?

Here’s a comparison between the top 3 programs so you can choose a program that best fits your needs, time and budget.

 

Vertical Response

Cost: $13 per 1,000 emails

Main Benefit if starting out:  Cost! You only pay on per-use basis (about $13 to send to each 1,000 people ). While that can total $65 for a list of 5,000, you save if you don’t have annoyingly frequent campaigns or smaller lists.

This service has good reporting so you can see how many people are reading your e-news, which links they click on and other useful information to guide your marketing. Easy-to-use social media feature enables you to post a link to your e-news (archived on their site, not yours) onto your social media pages quite easily. Opt-in forms are free and easy to create.

Main Disadvantage: If you don’t use their “canvass template” form, you have to code your own “branded design”  campaigns in both html and text-only versions so that either can be received by your list. It’s time consuming and more expensive to do that, unless you’re a programmer. However, their canvass template is not hard to learn and they have a training video to walk you through it, too.

Features                                                                                           

  • Import lists from excel, filemaker, most content management systems
  • Free opt in forms to add to e-news, blog, website, or social media
  • Auto tracking for bounces, unsubscribes- keeps list clean
  • Easy set up wizards
  • Email campaigns, postcards,survey options
  • Posts your e-news right to social media pages
  • Real time tracking of who is opening your emails, which links clicked on, compare campaigns to see which works best, etc.
  • Can create surveys- anonymous or not with VR templates.
  • Good customer service, comparatively
  • Add your own HTML or text design in content
  • With one easy integration you get email marketing, list management & reporting
  • Enjoy premium VR Partner API access and support
  • Customize your own user interface, or drop the existing UI into your iFrame
  • Brand your application with a ‘powered by’ logo on all outgoing messages
  • Manage all sub-accounts & lists easily from one Administrative login
  • Get real time reporting on all account activity
  • Save with email credit bulk purchases
I’m an affiliate of Vertical Response (so you have full disclosure) because I find it easy to use and customer support quite helpful. If you sign up with Vertical Response I’d appreciate it if you use this affiliate link. Do compare it, though, with the others below to ensure it’s the right fit for your business.

 

Constant Contact

Cost: $15 for quickplans to start. Additional features cost extra. (500-2001 $20/mo.  2500-5000 $50/mo. 5k-10k- $75/mo.)

Main Advantage: Offers a variety of included template designs (but watch out for glitches as you learn to program them)

Main Disadvantage: Cost and time to learn the system. You pay monthly whether you send out email campaigns or not. Users tell me they get frustrated with setup and have problems getting it working the first few times, often sending out their first few e-news items with programming errors.

User comment: My colleague Dr. Monique Hunt offered this comment about this program:

“I used Constant Contact for several years and liked the features.  I like how Constant Contact makes it very easy to send a newsletter to multiple accounts and the list will merge together so that subscribers of multiple lists will only get one email.

However, the program would often lock-up requiring me to close the browser and lose my information.  I also found that often what I created in the program didn’t look the same in the actual email. Many of the advanced services require additional fees.” 

She also noted it was quite easy to add forms to her website and send newsletters to multiple lists easily. She switched to Mail Chimp in the end.

Features                                                                                              

  • One-click editing. Easy to use. No technical skills required.
  • Free HTML email templates Choose from over 400 customizable templates.
  • Affordable—start for FREE for 60 days (email marketing survey, event marketing registration sign up form)
  • Free personal coaching and support by phone, email, chat, and in person—anytime.
  • Facebook, Twitter links – Promote your campaign on social media.
  • Secure, permission-based email lists – Grow your email lists—it’s secure and easy.
  • Social Stats – See who tweets, likes, and shares your emails.
  • Anti-spam checker – Send campaigns that get delivered.
  • Event marketing and survey priced differently.
  • Easy to add video and image links. Host your own  images – charged extra if you need it, also gives access to their large stock image bank.
  • Option to ‘grow my mailing list form’ (opt in) to ask them any info you want (like how did you hear about us?). You can set up ‘text to join’ – text to x number to join your mailings. You get reports of who signed up, opted out.
  • Integrated with QR codes – for handouts, trade shows, etc. Can set up QR code to your mailing list to offer them free coupons later (in your e-news list). You get report of who signed up, opted out.
  • Moving into social media, it’s free first 30 days or for up to 100 fans on your Facebook page. Click on like to get 15% coupon. Has opt in for Facebook application. Can customize posts so it automatically goes to Facebook or twitter account.
  • Tracking: who shared, who opened, who clicked, ask readers to share e-news on their own page. Shows graph to show how your e-news going against others in your industry. Allows people to sign up for ‘packet’ to get info from you.
  • Can archive emails, add to your blog or website

 

Mail Chimp

 

Main Advantage: Free & it seems to have a good mobile interface. Non technically-oriented users tell me it’s not too hard to set up and learn the basics, and they like the choice of many template design offerings.

Main Disadvantage:  Users reported to me the complexity of options took quite a bit of time to learn at first and that they get frustrated with the customer support (or lack thereof).

User comment:

My colleague Dr. Monique Hunt offered this comment about this program:

 “I am using the free account with Mail Chimp.  Most days I am happy with the service, however, I have occasionally experienced screen freezes forcing me to close the program and  log in again to complete my projects.

My biggest challenge with Mail Chimp is the difficulty adding multiple forms to my website for different lists.  Although I am not a web designer, I was easily able to add forms to my website using Constant Contact.  In my experience, adding Mail Chimp forms from multiple list to my website created multiple challenges that often left my visitors unable to sign up for various programs and events. While it’s possible to email to multiple lists, it’s not as easy as Constant Contact for this purpose.

Users can easily intergrate Mail Chimp with social media and Eventbrite to create events.  I have used this feature and found it useful and a time saver.  Mail Chimp has many free features that other companies only offer to their paid users.

As a free service, I believe Mail Chimp is a great choice. However, some features require a paid account.  For basic newsletters, events and for staying connected with clients I find it very useful.”

Features

  • Facebook integration
  • Has Google analytics
  • QR code creation
  • Tracking shows how your campaigns are performing, how your subscribers are sharing them, and how much revenue your campaigns are generating for you.
  • Can set up subscribers via mobile phone
  • Enables social sharing
  • Includes design templates
  • Tracking includes industry comparisons: how you compare to other MailChimp users in your industry, so you can gauge relative effectiveness with your competitors.
  • Can set up A/B Split Testing¨ Answer Questions

What day of the week gets you better open rates? What time of day works best for your content? What subject lines are most effective? What name should you use in the “From” field? Does sending time affect click rates? Answer all these questions and more with a few clicks in MailChimp.

More Features

  • Add subscribers to any list and assign them to interest groups.
  • See recent events in your account.
  • See where in the world your emails are being opened.
  • See who’s tweeting and retweeting your campaigns.
  • See how much revenue your campaigns have generated.
  • See email clients, recent subscribers and full lists.
  • Get updates about campaigns in progress.
  • See how many MonkeyRewards you have earned.
  • Add multiple MailChimp accounts.
  • Lock the app with a passcode for additional security.

 

OTHER PROGRAMS

There are many email sending programs including these popular programs that integrate your ecommerce with a shopping cart, affiliate programs and more. Costs are higher but for larger lists or more integrated management, these are some top programs to compare. Most have lower introductory costs for fewer features so it’s worth it to shop around to fit your exact needs:

 

1 Shopping Cart

Cost: $129/mo. for integrated email, autoresponders, affiliate program and shopping cart.

 

Aweber

Cost: $19/mo. for email, html templates, autoresponders (but without ecommerce cart integration).

 

Infusionsoft

Cost: $199/mo. to $999/mo. depending on features

Beefy capabilities require more time to learn, but it has really good reporting for integrated email, CRM, sales funnel campaigns, including opt in tracking, good follow up automation after purchases enabling ROI tracking.

 

SHARE YOUR OPINIONS!

Please share your experience and opinions in “comments” below to help others make good decisions. We all really value your honest comments.


NEED HELP DEVELOPING YOUR E-NEWS CAMPAIGNS?

Our special report on steps to create an effective e-news campaign is available in our store, if you need help with that: http://allisonbliss.com/store/.

 

THANKS TO OUR GUEST CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR FOR COMMENTS THIS MONTH

Dr. Monique is a Business Intuitive and Happiness Strategist.  She teaches her clients how to tap into the wisdom of their intuition for guidance so they always know the best choices to make and the right action to take in business and life.  She inspires her clients to awaken their inner happiness so they can realize their dreams and make a lasting impact in the world. www.drmonique.com or find her on Facebook.


Comments

Email Sending Programs: Which One Fits Your Needs? — 1 Comment

  1. I’ve received several calls from clients or colleagues who are frustrated trying to set up and learn Mail Chimp. They choose it because they like the template designs. I recommend you choose a program for the functionality and support, since most of these email sending services allow custom design if you want that. Personally, I’d NEVER choose a service with “tutorial only” customer support – it’s a time waster!

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