“I’ll send out newsletters to my customers from my email account. That will be the easiest way to do it.”
Sending newsletters from your own account to more than a few people at once is generally a bad idea. Spam filters love to catch that type of email. As soon as you include more than about ten people as recipients (especially if you use the “bcc:” field) there is a high chance your email will be marked as spam—which is exactly what you don’t want.
Using a reputable service is currently the best way to ensure your emails will get through. Not only do these services work hard to ensure you have a clean list, they also work closely with many email providers to remain on the white lists—increasing the probability your email is delivered when and where you hoped it would.
Now that you’ve decided to use a professional email service, which should you use? The largest, easiest to use, and most flexible services are MailChimp, Constant Contact, and iContact. Choosing which among them depends on how you want to use the service, what platforms you want to integrate with, and how many emails you plan to send.
First a word about frequency. Like any other marketing initiative, the key to successful email marketing (also known as inbound marketing) is consistency. If you can’t commit to sending at least one campaign every month, don’t read any further—email marketing isn’t for your business.
Which Email Service?
All three offer a wide range of easy to use templates. While pricing varies slightly, by and large the costs are quite similar. And all three services are continually adding features to make the platforms more robust and easier to use.
There are, however, a few areas where the services differ.
iContact is well know for integrating well with Salesforce and for offering unlimited signup forms. If you want to integrate with Salesforce, stop reading and choose iContact. The service includes a free social media module and it can take your blog posts and turn them into email newsletters automatically.
MailChimpis free for the first 500 subscribers (although there are some limitations with the free version). If you have a relatively small list, this can be a huge cost saver. MailChimp integrates well with Google Analytics, Twitter, and can automatically take your blog posts and turn them into email newsletters. Subscribers can select any or all lists from multiple, separate email lists (with segments) which allows more marketing flexibility and means a person can unsubscribe from one but not all your newsletters.
Constant Contact is very simple and easy to use, but doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. Constant Contact allows you to have different lists, but you are only given one signup form which means when someone unsubscribes they unsubscribe from all your lists. Constant Contact can post your newsletter to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and “Other” (the “AddThis” app, which adds several hundred social media platforms), but doesn’t always integrate well with other applications. Finally, Constant Contact has no interface with Google Analytics.
Mobile Access and Newsletter Marketing Success
Much of your target audience is reading (or at least scanning) your newsletter on a mobile device. And they are probably multi-tasking so you have to work harder than ever to grab their attention.
- Make sure your newsletter is mobile friendly
- Create subject lines that are short and sweet
- Use a clear call to action
- Offer mobile-only specials
41% of marketing emails were opened on a mobile device in the second half of 2012. That’s up from 36% in the first half of 2012. – (Knotice February, 2013)
Sending a regular newsletter can be a wonderful way to stay in touch with clients, educate them about your product line, and offer periodic specials to drive sales. Be sure to write short, clear, client-centric articles to keep your audience engaged. And when choosing a professional email provider, choose one that integrates well with the platforms you use regularly.