When I started my first business way back in 1997, email as we know and use today was in its infancy in the small business community. I started collecting as many addresses as possible as a way to promote my business by promoting my tips and tricks. Back then, I used Outlook and cleaned up all the bouncebacks manually. When that got to be time-consuming, I purchased some software that automated the process. Soon after that, I stepped it up a few notches and made my life easier by investing in the Web-based technology, iContact.
I chose iContact because of its high delivery rate and solid autoresponder technology. When someone signs up for my email list, I have it set up to automatically send them a computer tip for a few weeks. They also receive a link to some free reports, documents that make it easier to get organized, and more.
iContact also connects my email list to my blog so that every time I write a new blog post, my list automatically (or not if you choose) receives a link to the new post.
The only thing I still don’t like about their technology is the awkwardness of some of the site’s navigation and its clunky templates.
Carrie Drybrough of VicadeaConcepts.com has provided a great summary of various email marketing resources you could use to promote what you know.
- AWeber Communications — Featuring pre-designed templates, unlimited autoresponders, easy opt-in forms and unlimited customer support, AWeber must be a consideration if autoresponders are a part of your overall online strategy in addition to newsletters. The cost is $1 for the first month and plans start at $19/month thereafter.
- Constant Contact — With a point-and-click interface, Constant Contact has the ability to create high-impact email newsletters and promotions in minutes. One of the best in template designs. Limited autoresponder capabilities. Free 60-day trial with plans starting at $15/month.
- EZezine — Limited to 200 free messages a month. A good way to get your feet wet without the cash outlay.
- Get Response — Over 300 templates, unlimited follow-up messages and email analytics. Supports audio and video recording capabilities. Plans starting from $18/month. Free version limited to 10 subscribers.
- iContact — Intuitive features, simple interface and comprehensive reports. Impressive survey elements and autoresponder capabilities. SPAMCheck is included. iContact has over 300 templates but has limited image hosting. Plans start at $9.95/month and there is a 15-day free trial.
- MailChimp — Targeted to the Google generation, MailChimp is a fun email marketing service. Offers flexible plans for every budget and is free for lists below 500 subscribers.
- Vertical Response — Offers email design tools, free image hosting, customizable sign-up forms, open and click tracking, and customer support. Easy-to-use interface. Monthly and Pay-as-you-go pricing with plans starting at $10/month. Available for a 30-day free trial.
- 1Shoppingcart — An inclusive service with shopping cart, autoresponders, affiliate manager and click-tracker. The integrated solution for eCommerce. Plans starting at $29/month. Test drive the PRO package platform for $3.95.
Regardless of the service you choose for email marketing, you have to deliver value and give people a reason to hand over their email address to you. It’s also important that you do more than email marketing because only the people you send it to will see it. I also add information to my blog, online press releases, and the iContact newsletter community.
Have you found a great service that works for you? Leave a comment to let us know.