Email Marketing Services

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Email marketing is an important part of business and a little more complicated than simply sending a mass email.

By law, each email newsletter you send has to include a full physical mailing address. For example, this means that you cannot simply put The Smart Planner, Phoenix, Arizona 85018 - you have to include the street address portion. You also have to include an option for recipients to unsubscribe from your list. Depending on the size of your mailing lists, this could be a tedious and mind numbing task. Having a newsletter service that can handle the ins and outs of populating subscriber lists, unsubscribing people when they request it, and have it all look good at the same time is worth every penny.

Aside from general marketing and newsletter updates, email services come in handy for sending updates and newsletters to the bridal party. Most email marketing services include stats on number of opens, click throughs, etc. I always know walking into a rehearsal exactly which members of the bridal party have read the information in the update emails and who clicked out to which links.

Here are some of the more popular email marketing services that work well for wedding professionals:

This service used to be called IntelliContact, and recently went through a name change. This is the service I currently use so I will talk about it a little more in depth than some of the others.

With iContact, you can choose from a free premade templates or hire them to create a custom template for you. You have access to the html coding for each template, so I chose a free one and set it up to look similar to my blog and website. There are also drag and drop options and easy color change options that will change the look of the newsletter template that don't require any knowledge of html. If you know how to use Blogger, then you can use iContact.

You can send yourself preview emails before you send it out to the public. They have a subscription form you can add to your website or blog and they also offer the ability to import a mailing list from an Excel or CSV file. iContact also lets you see which email addresses bounced, which opened your message, and who clicked on what links. This important because you can learn what people are interested in learning more about.

Their pricing is based on the number of subscribers you have, and you are able to sign up month-to-month or for longer amounts of time. They also offer a free trial so you can test the waters before committing. The rate increases as your number of subscribers increases, and you can have up to 100,000 contacts. They cost about $10 a month for up to 500 contacts and 3,000 messages and about $14 a month for up to 1000 contacts.

Constant Contact
Constant Contact is who I used before iContact, but I switched when they changed their pricing structure. Constant Contact has the same easy to use features that iContact has, including the subscription form for your blog or website, the easy drag and drop templates and the ability to change them to match your branding, and similar list management tools. Their prices are around $15 up to 500 contacts, and $30 for up to 2500. They also have a free trial so you can check them out before deciding if they are the right email service for you.

I haven't used Emma, but know several professionals who do and love it. From what I can tell, their options are similar to iContact and Constant Contact. They do not offer premade templates, but instead charge a $250 set up fee and create a custom template to match your branding. Their pricing starts at $30 for 1000 emails sent per month. This means that you can send one mailing to a list of 1000 people per month or you can divide those 1000 emails into smaller batches, such as 10 emails per month to 100 people each. Their website is also a bit cheeky and fun, which tells you that the people behind it have some great personalities.

All three of these services have AMAZING statistic tracking.  As I mentioned earlier, I can walk into a rehearsal and know exactly who in the bridal party did or did not read the wedding party newsletters I sent out on behalf of the bride and groom.  I can also tell from the stats which products or services receive the most attention by tracking which links were clicked on.  I know how many people delete the email without reading and how many people forward the email on to a friend.  The marketing analysis built into these services is worth the cost alone, in my opinion.

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