This past week I’ve responded to a very similar question from FOUR different clients. When I get asked ANY question more than once in a 7 day period, well it’s a sign that it’s an issue I need to address on my blog. Here we go.
The issue of newsletter mailing lists is a popular one. An email newsletter is a powerful tool you can use to stay in touch with clients/customers and potential clients/customers. I highly recommend that clients develop helpful and informative newsletters to stay in touch with both potential clients and current clients.
However, the sending of unsolicited email is a HUGE issue these days. When you mass email a message to people who haven’t give you PERMISSION to email them, it’s called SPAM! Amazingly, many nice, respectable business people want to do just that. They want to take a stack of business cards that they’ve collected over the years and input the information into a database and begin emailing those people without first obtaining their prior consent. Again, it’s called SPAM or UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email)
Sending SPAM is a HUGE no-no in the world of the internet. It hurts your credibility with your unsuspecting "victims" and, if they’re wise in the ways of the internet, they can get your IP blacklisted. If your domain name is registered with Godaddy and they complain to them, you’ll find yourself with a nice hefty fine levied by them as well.
So your job is to make sure your messages do NOT get reported as SPAM and the way to do that is through a double opt in list.
A double opt in is where a subscriber signs up for your newsletter via a form on your web site or blog. Once the subscription request is made, the system automatically sends a second message to confirm that the email address owner WANTS to be added to the list. To confirm this, the email address owner clicks on a special link which CONFIRMS that yes, he/she/it does want their email address added to this list. The email address owner is giving the list owner PERMISSION to send email to them.
To repeat: THE NEWSLETTER RECIPIENTS WILL HAVE TO SIGN UP FOR THE LIST!
You can’t just input their contact information and start sending emails. NO REPUTABLE system will allow you to just input email addresses and start mailing.
To achieve the double opt-in, you’re going to need to enlist specialized software. There are three major "providers" when it comes to email mailing lists. These providers will not only provide you with the means to send out your newsletter, they’ll take care of all the ugly stuff such as keeping the IP address from being blacklisted by abuse.
The most important factor when choosing an email newsletter provider is the ability for them to DELIVER the emails to the list. The second most important factor is ease of use.
The three major players are:
Constant Contact is the most "user friendly" of all the options. They provide a variety of pre-designed HTML newsletter template options.
I have heard users complain of SIGNIFICANT problems in getting their messages delivered using Constant Contact. Users report blocking of up to 20% of the list. This is significant because these are people who have gone through the double opt in process and are STILL unable to receive email messages.
The other "issue" with Constant Contact is they work best with smaller lists.
If you have small email campaigns you are looking to manage (<5000) subscribers, Constant Contact is a viable option. If you are looking to manage larger campaigns, the product and the constant contact process are cumbersome and time consuming. If you expect your list to grow beyond 5000 subscribers, then you’ll need a more robust provider.
b) Marketer’s Choice (note: this is the only affiliate link on the page)
This service is the only one I have an affiliate account with because their system fits PERFECTLY with what my clients need.
The beauty of Marketer’s Choice (also known as 1shoppingcart / kickstartcart / professionalcartsolutions) is the ability to integrate your mailing list with your customer list. If you have product to sell via the internet, then you can add your customers to your mailing list with ease.
The MC digital product delivery solution is ESSENTIAL to anyone who sells digital downloads. Their digital product delivery system creates a unique URL for the download which is only valid for 48 hours after purchase. That means when someone buys your digital product, they can’t post the URL for the download on the internet so the world can download your product without going through the payment process.
The Marketer’s Choice solution also offers the ability to set up an an integrated affiliate program. That way, you can enlist others in the marketing and promotion of your product and services.
Marketer’s Choice has a good record of email deliverability. They’ve had issues in the past, but have been prompt in addressing those issues and have implemented new controls to limit the abuse of their system.
There is a bit of a learning curve and to send HTML based emails. If you want to send HTML based email, you’ll need to compose the HTML first. (This means you can send CUSTOMIZED HTML email newsletters though.)
Marketer’s Choice system offers the ability to check your message to make sure it won’t trigger spam filters.
Marketer’s Choice starts to get pricey when you have more than 10,000 subscribers to your database.
One of the best things about the Marketer’s Choice program is clients can start out with the Autoresponder package, begin building their newsletter list and then, when the develop products to sell, they can then upgrade their account with no fuss no muss.
If you don’t need a shopping cart to sell product/services, then aweber is far and above the best provider of email newsletters. Their deliverability rates are phenomenal and aweber is used by the best and the brightest on the internet.
My experience with aweber was that using their system was less than intuitive. I found it difficult to get it set up. Another issue is that many VA’s aren’t familiar with the system which is another minus for it. Since I used their service, they have addressed this issue by providing more tutorials and help resources.
If you ONLY need a newsletter…. and you anticipate more than 10,000 subscribers, then aweber is your best choice.
If you don’t need to sell product, don’t need to set up an affiliate program and you’re willing to endure a steep learning curve, then aweber is far and above the best solution for your email newsletter delivery service.