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As we all know, newsletters are an important part of any marketing plan. If email marketing were to be ranked on the social media pyramid, it would be tied right up on top with your website or blog. It's that important. So choosing an email service — choosing the right email service — to host your newsletter is no small task.
And it's not one that can be set and done. I was ecstatic when I signed up with MailChimp to start my email newsletter back in 2013. But as I've grown and as my business has evolved, I have had to evolve my newsletter host with it. So I've made several changes over the years. From MailChimp to GetResponse to ConvertKit to Flodesk.
So, I would like to point out that each of the services are amazing. They each offer invaluable features and do a good job with your newsletter.
I don't believe that one email marketing service provider is better than the others. I think no matter which email provider you decide to go with, if it's fulfilling your needs then it's the right choice. But I hope that this list of tips and considerations will help make that choice a bit easier for you.
10 things to consider when it comes to choosing an email service for your newsletter.
Spiffy signup forms that are easily customizable.
And with the growing concerns over consumer privacy and laws like GDPR popping up, you need to make sure those legal disclaimers don't ruin the overall look and feel of your landing page (but you don't want to hide them, either!). So, before you make your final decision, take a look at the landing pages and what they can do.
Ease of Use.
I love learning new technology and new software, but that doesn't mean I want to spend hours trying to learn a new software for an existing technology. And when it comes to email marketing, I want to get in and set up what I want and know it's going to work without feeling like I'm trying to learn a whole new language.
Now, that's not to say that I won't completely geek out over a new email platform - I will lose hours setting up my branding and personalizing my account on any email marketing service and enjoy every minute of it. But I don't want to have to hunt to try to find the features I signed up for. And I don't want to feel frustrated trying to learn those features. I just want to be able to get in, send my thing, and get out.
Analytics is life. I am a numbers person, and there is no number I do not love - including email insights.
The more indepth, the better. I want to know not just how many email subscribers I have, but how they are interacting with my newsletter. Are they responding to it? Which headlines do they respond to the most? Are they finding it easy to reply to me? Give me analytics and I am one happy lady.
Deliverability and spam options.
Obviously any email marketing campaign you build only works if you can count on it to get delivered correctly. And, truth be told, every email marketing service I've tried has had about the same success when it came to delivery rates.
But that doesn't mean they're in the clear, necessarily. I still see a lot of posts in various groups online and a lot of blog articles out there talking about the declining delivery rates of emails -- from just about every service out there. So, this may not be a flaw of the service, but a need for better emailing habits:
- Keep links to a minimum, especially links to sales pages or products.
- Make sure you verify your domain.
- Avoid using an @gmail.com email address if you can.
- Make sure you content is valuable and that your audience is opting in for it.
- Keep your mailing list clean by routinely removing old email addresses.
Email marketing -- actually any marketing campaign -- requires growth in order to stay viable. That's why you never see anyone say "well, I've actually got enough subscribers to sustain my business now, so I can take down this signup form."
If someone is running a newsletter, you can be sure that they are always looking for more subscribers. That list needs to be able to grow.
And that growth requires a flawless process that gets your content in front of the people who need it, allows them to sign up easily, and compels them to stay on and read that content as you send it out to them. It's not going to do you (or anyone else) any good if people are signing up to get your free lead-magnet or opt-in and then unsubscribing the second you send something else to them.
One way to do this is to make sure you are completely transparent in your forms and privacy statements. Don't try to trick anyone into signing up for your marketing emails - they won't fall for it and they will end up marking you as spam.
Autoresponders are a must for a consistent email marketing campaign.
An autoresponder allows you to build out a sequence of emails, to be delivered at pre-determined intervals, with which you can:
- Nurture new leads (as in a welcome sequence),
- Build new relationships (as in a series or challenge),
- Guide customers to the next step (as in an invitation to join a group or review a purchase),
- Deliver multi-part content (as in a challenge or ecourse).
Trust me, email marketing is much more than simply sending out a weekly or a monthly newsletter full of updates about you -- it needs to serve your audience. And autoresponders are the best way to help you keep the spotlight on your audience.
Maintaining multiple lists or list segmentation.
I hate it when I sign up for something specific on a website only to get added to every newsletter being run by that website. I really do. When I sign up for something, I want only that thing and maybe a follow up. I don't want weekly or monthly sales pitches coming at me after that.
And as a marketer, I want to make sure I am following up with people at the right time, as they need it, based on what they've signed up for.
The best way to handle both needs is to be able to segment your email list. So I know people are getting exactly what they've signed up for, nothing more and nothing less, and I'm not likely to accidentally send messages that aren't relevant to them.
This is also a good way to help ensure new subscribers don't mark or report anything as spam.
Terms of Service and Usage Policies (can you use it the way you want?).
MailChimp has some very strict rules about what you can or cannot send out using their email service. And that's fine, I have no problem following rules. But where I got nervous was in how some of those rules were written.
They seemed a little vague or open-ended. And, being the rule-stickler that I am, I like to make sure I'm not accidentally breaking any of them.
I work from home as a freelance writer, and I coach other people who want to work from home as freelance writers, and I use affiliate marketing to help supplement my income. I can't take the chance that one of my emails in that capacity accidentally be mistaken for abuse or spam.
And what, exactly, is banned about affiliate marketing? Does it mean you can't include your affiliate links, or can you not include your marketing materials at all? Could I link to, say, a review of these companies that contains my affiliate links?
And MailChimp is not the only email marketing service provider that has policies in place like these. So, before choosing an email service for your newsletter, make sure you check their usage policies so you don't end up choosing one that doesn't allow for your content.
I hate to be one of those people who says that budget has to be a deciding factor, but sometimes budget really is a deciding factor. If you choose a service that is outside of your budget, you won't be able to use it for very long.
And sometimes the decision comes down to "I can get this one until I start making some money with my list, then I can upgrade." And that is perfectly okay. Almost any email service out there can grow with you (you pay more per month when the number of subscribers goes up). And, even better, they all have a way of helping you to move your subscribers with you, should you need to start with one service and then move to another later.
Like I did.
Who did I end up with?
I signed up for MailChimp in Spring of 2013. And after three years, I moved to GetResponse in Winter of 2016. In 2018, I moved from GetResponse to ConvertKit because it seemed that's what all the coaches use. And I really do understand why, the ConvertKit ability to add in link triggers is amazing.
At the end of 2019, and I moved to Flodesk because my list was starting to grow and I liked their flat-rate pricing.
As of right now, mid-way through 2023, I am still using Flodesk, but I am also on the wait list to try the new Pribox, which promises to incorporate more robust features like segmentation (which is huge for me because my audience is so varied), drip campaigns, and built-in email validation (which means I won't have to pay a second tool for that feature). Once I get a chance to test it out, I'll let you know if it works.
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