So. Your new website is up and it is absolutely beautiful. It has all the bells and whistles to enable you to conquer the world. Right? Now that you have the easy part done, what’s next? Now you have to be able to tell people about it.
Fortunately, there are many choices to enable you to do just that. The best way to accomplish that is through an e-newsletter platform (provider). This is a service that enables you to use your email list to distribute your valuable information to your clients/customers/friends and family.
Naturally, the first thing you need to do is create that list, which is the subject of another post. For our purposes here we will be addressing only the platforms available for your use, whether you are an artist, photographer, blogger, etc.. The graph below highlights the Top Ten, according to Top Ten Reviews (link below).
When you are at the point in your business where you need to find new customers as well as market to existing ones, one of the best methods of doing this is through the use of email newsletters, coupons, and announcements.
The following is a list of why email marketing might be your best choice to further your goals.
The role of email in your marketing arsenal:
• 94% of all online adults read or send email
• Email is ingrained in people’s daily routines
• 2.9-billion email accounts worldwide
• $40.6-dollar return on ROI for $1 spent
• Email is checked unconsciously all day
• Email is the #1 online activity
• Email can be easily targeted
• 89% of marketers consider it very important
With that in mind, here are a couple points to consider when deciding to look for providers for solving your email marketing “challenges”:
1. What do I want to achieve by deciding to use email marketing? Do you have a product to sell? Do you want to share your wisdom with like-minded people? Do you want to use coupons to drive business to your virtual doorstep? You may want to create a list of your more immediate goals, in order to be better informed in selecting a platform that will assist you in achieving those goals.
2. What can I afford to pay for this service? Many of the services listed in the above graph allow you free service either by a prescribed period of time or through the use of a limited amount of subscribers, usually up to 1,000. While all of the services can send out your email campaign, several are all-in-one packages that can handle all your email marketing needs, such as excellent tracking, thorough statistics, the ability to schedule events, segmentation of your lists, etc. Others may only offer limited services, such as sending, basic tracking, and minimal statistics.
One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is that you might want to select a service that someone you know is using. That way you can “get in” easier and with a lot less effort.
David Wells, who publishes a great photography newsletter, The Wells Point, did just that. “I use Mail Chimp simply because a good friend who is a techy and who helped me build my various sites said it was better and easier to use as compared to others he had used. Once I learned how to use it I had NO interest in learning how to use another program.”
If one of your main concerns is customer service, Todd Shapera from Todd Shapera Photography also feels that is a good point to consider. “Over many years, I also have received terrific customer phone service from iContact, especially when I have formatting and design issues. I also use iContact because it feels user friendly on every level—flexibility in designing the newsletter, linking to other web galleries, managing lists, scheduling and sending newsletters, and receiving detailed user reports on opens and clicks.”
The graph above should aid you tremendously in your selection process. It is the best site I have found that offers considerable information in relation to making a well-informed email marketing choice. Each time you click on one of the tabs on the left, a new graph will appear, indicating the levels of “Ease of Use,” for example.
For my own work I use Benchmark, which has performed very well for me. One of the best statistics I use is the “Campaign Comparison” graph (above). It allows me to compare a number of my campaigns to see which one performed best. I can then use this information to do some research and find why certain campaigns performed better than others.
Over the years I have used Constant Contact, AWeber, Mail Chimp, Online Newsletters, WYSIJA (WordPress plugin). Some I found to be awkward to use, while others had insufficient reporting structures. I was doing well with AWeber, but soon found out that users didn’t have the ability to select which segmented list of yours they wanted to opt out of. When I called customer service, the person I spoke with had no idea what I was talking about.
Everyone has their own experience, which is why it is up to you to do the research necessary to get the right fit for you.
top graph, http://email-marketing-service-review.toptenreviews.com/
David Wells: www.davidhwells.com
Todd Shapera: www.ToddShapera.com
Tim Anderson: www.reddognews.com
Tim Anderson is a professional photographer and writer and is the editor of RedDogNews.com and the publisher of Red Dog News, a bi-weekly international photo-based e-mail newsletter, read in more than 128 countries and by more than 5,000 readers and subscribers. He recently spoke at WordCamp Albuquerque, Online Newsletters: Benefits and Challenges.