July 6, 2009

eNewsletters Part 3/4: The Experiment

We're making progress.

We've seen why you need an email newsletter and addressed your three biggest objections. This time we'll select an eMarketing service to continue our experiment. If you're following along, you'll have your email database in good condition.

The Choices
Web searches for a suitable eMarketing service got confusing. Too many choices with little to distinguish them. I next looked at the eNewsletters I receive.

Major companies like Best Buy/Future Shop use their own systems. That's way beyond our scope. Even so, we can make our emails look as professional while spending very little time or money.

Some companies use intermediaries like the Insurance Brokerage Marketing Company (IBMCO) to send permission-based advertising with a cost per mailing. You won't build a permission-based asset using someone else's mailing list.

Other eNewsletters use services like Aweber, Constant Contact, Industry Mailout, InfusionSoft, MailChimp, ...

TopTenREVIEWS had a good summary of different services. Based on the selection criteria in Part 2, my shortlist was
  • Benchmark Email
  • iContact
  • MailChimp
I was going to pick iContact until I found numerous negative user comments on Bush Mackel. I had many problems sending out this blog with Zookoda in 2007 and am keen to avoid hassles. MailChimp seems a bit limited and has a steep price increase at 501 subscribers. So I picked Benchmark Email. The process wasn't rigorous but I'm satisfied with this decision.

The Winner
Benchmark Email feels friendly and is easy to use. You just click on tabs or buttons. There's a risk-free one month trial that lets you send out 250 emails. You aren't asked to provide a credit card to start your trial. That's ideal. You can send out 1,000 emails a month for $13 US. You can learn more from their website (an affiliate link with all commissions reinvested to help your marketing).

There's one big negative with Benchmark Email. You need nice graphics for your eNewsletters but you're charged a hefty $5 US/month for hosting 20 MB worth. Luckily, you can host your images for free on sites like Google Picassa or Yahoo Flickr. Or on your own website.

Next Time
Next time, we'll see the results of this four-part marketing process by sending out an actual eNewsletter. You can subscribe right now by clicking on the graphic below.
You'll see the mechanics, including the steps to confirm your subscription (double opt-in) and the confirmation emails. How do you like this? Would you like to use the same process? Your feedback is most welcome. Feel free to leave comments below.

The publication is called Marketing Reflections: you pause from your busy schedule to reflect and then plant marketing seeds for future harvest. You can also send a copy to your centres of influence.

Your own eNewsletter might target your clients and prospects.

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