If you are currently using your own email address to send out newsletters for your company, I strongly recommend you make the switch to an email marketing service. There are several available, like MailChimp, Constant Contact, and iContact to name a few. They all have pay options, but some have a free version depending on your needs. Most of the people I know who are still using their own email haven’t utilized an email marketing provided simply because they didn’t know they even existed, or that it could be low cost and easy to do. Now you all know, so no more excuses! But for those who want to know why they should make the switch, let me share some benefits.
Quite simply, sending an email direct from you to your subscribers generally doesn’t have great visual appeal. Typically these emails are text only, which makes them long and boring and difficult to scan. As much as I know we all believe that our readers actually read our newsletters top to bottom, the truth is they don’t. Readers look for key words that grab their attention, and when you are sending text only, you don’t have a lot of formatting options. With a provider, you set up a template that you can use every time you send a newsletter out. You can have your logo and your brand colours. All your important details are saved in the template so you don’t have to enter them every time. You can add links for your readers to share the newsletter easily with their friends and networks.
Keep it alive and growing
Every newsletter you create with a provider gets its own link, so you can share it easily in status updates on facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and any other social site you belong to. Try that with regular email! And your subscribers can share it easily with all of their connections on those same networks simply by hitting a button. Your potential reach is so much greater than a simple email can achieve. And you can create a sign up form to put on your website so visitors can easily subscribe without you having to lift a finger! Have some new subscribers that want to read past newsletters? Don’t flip through your sent file to find them! With a provider, all your newsletters are archived, and easy to find.
Once you send an email out, it is no longer in your control. You can’t get too much information about the success of your newsletter campaign. Sure you can put a track on it to see if people opened it, but that’s about it. You can infer from website stats if more people visited your website shortly after your newsletter went out, but it’s not an exact science. And, of course, if anyone contacts you, you can ask them if it was because of the newsletter, but that’s about it. With an email marketing provider you can find out exactly who opened your email (and how many times!), who forwarded your email, how many people found your newsletter through various other methods like facebook, linkedin or your website and more. You can see direct results of how readers are engaging (or not) with your content.
Private and Personal
I’ve seen it done before. You’re using your own email to send newsletters to your fans. Maybe you’ve even created a fancy distribution list so you don’t have to remember who to send it to. But one of these days, if you haven’t already, I guarantee you will accidentally put all those email addresses into the To field instead of Bcc. Every single email address will be visible to every single recipient, and anyone they decide to forward your newsletter to. Not such a great way to respect your fans’ privacy, is it? And you can apologize as much as you want (and you should), but you can’t get that email back. Some people might not care. Others might be a bit miffed, but some will no longer trust you and will want off your subscription list. But with an email service, you create a list in your account, and it all goes out privately. As a matter of fact, you can set it up so that each person receives their newsletter with a personal greeting using their own name! No more generic “Dear readers” or “Hello All” crap. And while we’re talking about how the emails are sent, have you ever had such a big list that you had to break your list into groups? Again, not an issue for these providers. You may have to pay a bit more if you have a super-sized list, but trust me it’s worth it!
So there you have it. Hopefully I’ve convinced and converted any stragglers out there. If not, I invite you to tell me why you prefer not to make the switch. For those of you who have seen the light, I hope you have fun designing your next email masterpiece!