In the sixth of a multi-part series, Alexis Gutzman outlines the features to look for when selecting a newsletter service.
Perhaps by now you’ve downloaded the demo version of one of the do-it-yourself newsletter products I mentioned last week. You’ve learned that — whoa, Nelly! — it is a lot of work to send your own newsletter. On the other hand, if you went ahead with it, you probably saw a big spike in traffic on your site. On my own site, alexisgutzman.com, half the traffic that comes in a week typically comes in the 48 hours immediately following a newsletter.
For more information about publishing your own newsletter, check out these other articles from Alexis Gutzman’s ongoing weekly series: Publishing Your Own Newsletter Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 2 Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 3 Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 4 Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 5 Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 6 Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 7 Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 8
Publishing Your Own Newsletter
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 2
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 3
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 4
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 5
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 6
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 7
Publishing Your Own Newsletter: Part 8
Avoiding Gray Hair When Publishing a Newsletter
If you don’t have the time or inclination to do it yourself — expect to earn more than a few gray hairs trying — then you might be looking for a service provider that can handle the mechanics of the mailing. When you first sign up with one, you’ll have to upload your list of addresses, then every week or whatever you’ll sign in via a Web interface and upload your latest newsletter, test, and tell it to send the mailing. After the mailing is complete, there will be a secure page you can go to review the results of the campaign.
For the purposes of writing this column, I interviewed several mailing list companies — there are many, many out there, so don’t think my list (later in this column) is comprehensive. Most of them offered me the chance to test out their software by sending my own newsletter, but I couldn’t take them all up on it. I decided to use GotMarketing.com’s newsletter service to run a test. GotMarketing recently signed an agreement with Yahoo to offer their email marketing service to Yahoo’s small business customers. I really liked GotMarketing’s service; the interface, the speed, and the reporting feature were excellent, and when I ran into a snag during testing, there was a toll-free number to call for assistance.
Features to Compare
If you’re shopping for a newsletter service, make sure you compare all of the following features. The prices are pretty close, but the services provided might not be.
Companies to Consider
As I mentioned above, there are many companies that provide this service. I thought GotMarketing.com did an excellent job of delivering a first-rate service. Here are others to consider: EMail Labs, Xpedite, Sparklist and Constant Contact. You can also look at the Open Directory Project.
Tune in next week to read about outsourcing the entire enterprise, including content development. After that, I’ll cover handling bounced messages, unsubscribe requests, and vacation mailing — boring but essential. While we’re on the topic of boring but essential, I’ll give you a test plan for your newsletter campaign at some point down the road. I’ll cover the pros and cons of personalizing your newsletter, since you’re probably already wondering about that. Another column will focus on lining up advertising or sponsors for your newsletter. So much to look forward to!
Note to Readers: My editor tells me that there are still some of you who haven’t subscribed to the newsletter version of this column. What are you waiting for? Where else are you going to find this kind of immediately useful information for free! All we’re asking is that you subscribe to the newsletter version, which comes into your mailbox weekly. After I complete this series on publishing your own newsletter, I’ll be writing a series on developing your own viral marketing program. Can you afford to miss that? Subscribe now by clicking here and don’t miss anything.
Alexis D. Gutzman is an author, speaker, and consultant on e-business and e-commerce topics. She’s the producer of The Online Marketing Report. Her most recent book, The E-commerce Arsenal: 12 Technologies You Need to Prevail in the Digital Arena, was named one of the 30 best business books of this year. For up-to-date information about her research and speaking engagements, visit The Alexis Gutzman Group’s Web site.
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Shari Thurow is the founder and SEO director at Omni Marketing Interactive, a full-service search engine marketing, Web, and graphic design firm. Acknowledged as a leading expert on search engine friendly Web sites worldwide, she is the author of the top-selling marketing book, "Search Engine Visibility," published through Peachpit Press. Shari's areas of expertise include site design, search engine optimization, and usability.
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