In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, author LJ Sellers offers an overview of popular email blast services.
Maintaining an email newsletter list and sending out professional, attractive emails is critical for nearly anyone who likes to stay in contact with a group, whether it’s a book club or fan base. Many providers offer this service, and a few offer it either free or for pennies on the email, making it an affordable option even for Christmas newsletters.
Until recently I used Vertical Response, then realized I needed to change when I discovered it didn’t offer an autoresponder. When I signed up for the service years ago, I had never heard the term and didn’t know what I would be missing. As clarification: an autoresponder is an automatic email that goes out when someone signs up for the newsletter through a signup form, usually on a website. I’m also not impressed with VR’s signup form, which is small and funky. The signup form and autoresponder are not likely important to anyone sending out personal emails, but they are critical to writers or small businesses building an email list, so I’ve decided to switch providers.
Overall, most of the providers offer:
- a variety of nice design templates
- list management tools and list segmentation
- RSS ability to feed blogs directly into a newsletter
- a sign-up function for your website
- tracking and analytic information
One significant difference is that MailChimp and Vertical Response are the only two (in my survey) that offer a pay-as-you-go option; the others all charge a monthly service fee. Mail Chimp and YMLP (Your Mailing List Provider) also offer a free monthly plan, which could be great for anyone with a small list, but the free plans don’t usually include autoresponders.
Here’s a brief guide to six services and their distinctive features and prices:
- Monthly plan or pay as you go
- Free for up to 2000 subscribers and 1200 emails a month (but no autoresponder)
- Monthly unlimited plans start at $10 for 500 or fewer
- Phone support during the week
- Signup forms for websites and autoresponders with paid accounts
- $19 a month for unlimited emails (first month is $1)
- Great looking signup forms for websites and autoresponders
- Customer support
- Performance tracking
- Monthly plan or pay as you go
- Monthly: $10 per month for 500 or less
- Free trial (first 100 emails free)
- Offers surveys and direct-mail postcards
- Signup forms but no autoresponders
- Free version available (maximum of 1000 emails per month)
- Pro version starts at $3.75/month (for 2500 emails per month); Pro Plus starts at $5/month
- Can include attachments
- Social media integration
- Google Analytics integration
- Unlimited autoresponders
- Monthly plan: $15 for 500 or fewer
- Free 60-day trial
- Lots of customer support/phone, e-mail, library, videos
- Event marketing
- Connections with social media
- Built-in autoresponder
- $10 month for 500 or fewer
- $29 for 2500 subscribers
- 30-day free trial
- Offers survey services/features
- Integration with Google Analytics
- Signup forms and autoresponders
I’ve decided to go with MailChimp because I need a pay-as-you-go option for my infrequent, but 1000+ mailings. I also need a good signup form with an autoresponder for my website. The free version of MailChimp is also a good option for book club leaders or anyone sending out a small monthly mailing. Even if you’re not running a business or building a list of readers/fans, these services offer a fun way to send attractive emails to any group of people.
What service do you use? Are you happy with it?