Online Email Services 2013

by John Eberhard

There are a number of online email services being offered. These allow you to do email marketing, to create databases of email addresses that are stored online (not on your computer) and then send emails to them as often as you want. Most of the services charge you according to how big your list is, though some charge you based on how many emails you send out.

These online services allow you to:

* Put up subscription forms on your site, and then if someone fills it out their name gets added to your database of email addresses
* Set up multiple databases for different purposes, i.e. for newsletter, for sales leads, etc.
* Send out different emails to the different lists you have
* Set up autoresponders. These are emails that get sent out automatically to someone once they subscribe.
* They all provide templates that you can use to create your emails

I wrote an article back in 2010 about the biggest providers, Aweber, Mailchimp, Constant Contact and iContact, and included grids showing the differences between them and their pricing.

Here is some updated information on the services:

Monthly Pricing:

Service

1-500 names

501-1000

1001-2500

2501-5000

5001-10,000

10,000-25,000

Aweber

$19

$29

$29

$49

$69

$149

Mailchimp

$10

$15

$30

$50

$75

$150

Constant Contact

$15

$30

$30

$50

$75

$150

iContact

$14

$19

$29

$47

$74

$109 (10,0001 to 15,000)

As you can see the prices are all pretty much comparable and they have hardly changed at all in three years.

Features Grid

 

Aweber

Mailchimp

Constant Contact

iContact

Has HTML email templates

Can import email lists

Easy creation of signup forms to put on website

Double opt-in feature

Tracking tools

Free support

Autoresponder

Sends email to you once person signs up, with their name and other info

Requires sending out a re-opt-in message to any list you import

If you compare this to the features grid in my earlier article, you’ll see that hardly anything has changed. But one major and important thing has changed, which is that three years ago Mailchimp did not require sending out a re-opt-in message to any list that you import, and now they do.

Here’s what this means. Let’s say that you start a new account with one of the companies above, and you already have a list of email addresses that you have compiled, either while using another email service, or by hand. You can upload that list to your new account, but there’s a catch.

Each of the services above will require that an email gets sent out to that list, asking if the person still wants to be on that list. If they do not respond, they are then taken off the list.

That means that if you have a list you have compiled in some way prior to uploading it to one of these services, that due to the re-opt-in process, you will lose 80-90% of the subscribers on that list.

I was discussing this with one of my clients the other day, who has compiled a large email list by having people fill out cards at home shows and fairs where they sell their product. So through the re-opt-in process she would lose 80-90% of those subscribers, even though the people did validly opt-in to the list via filling out a physical card at a show.

Some of the online email services will consider not having you do the re-opt-in process, if you have built up an opt-in list with an account on one of the other major online email services.

What to Do?

The question comes up as to what to do if you have built up a large email list, but not via one of the major online email services?

The first thing to do, if you have not done so, is to set up an account now with one of the online email services, so that anyone on your website filling out a subscription form from now on will be considered an opt-in subscription. In other words, it handles any new subscriptions so that are considered opt-in and they won’t get lost.

If you have been in the habit of collecting email addresses by having people fill out a card, like at a show or in a store, it would be better from now on to have a computer there and have the person fill out a form online, that will dump their email address into a database with one of the online email services. That way, they will consider it an opt-in email whereas with a card they won’t.

Next, if you have a large list and don’t want to lose 80-90% of it through the re-opt-in process, you will have to set up a software program to send emails to it on your desktop or laptop computer. In other words, you won’t be able to send to it via one of the online email services. I recommend a program called Send Blaster 2, which I use and have had a good experience with.

Next you have to figure out what type of email account you will use to send the emails. You use what is called an SMTP server and it gets a bit technical. Most ISPs have limits on how many emails you can send per hour, and with most it is really low, like 100 per hour or 100 per day. So you can see that if you have a list of 10,000 it is going to take forever to get out your emails that way.

I have an account with www.web.com and they allow you to send 1,000 per hour, max 5,000 per day. You have to cut up your lists into chunks of 1,000 each, but it is a lot better than 100. If your list is opt-in and you don’t expect any complaints, you can get an account with a company called Turbo SMTP, and they have no hourly or daily limits, just a monthly limit. And you pay more if you want a higher monthly limit.

Which Email Service?

Although it is the most well known, I consider Constant Contact the worst of all the email services, just because they don’t give you as many options on how to do things.

I consider Aweber and Mailchimp to be the best services for online email marketing and use Aweber for my own business and for most of my clients.

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