It goes without saying that building an email database and utilising it sensibly (i.e. not spamming!) is now a core part of marketing, but are you doing it the easiest and cheapest way?
Across all of my businesses, I send several hundred thousand emails a month, all to subscribers of various websites, so it is important to get the right system working for you, ensuring that you are maximising on your investment.
There are plenty of articles and blogs out there telling you should do it and why, but I have been using a few systems that make my life easier by streamlining the process and save money by using a few little add-ons and services.
Services like Mailchimp, Get Response are Aweber are great and do make your life pretty easy, with templates, guides and stop by step processes, however, you can replicate many of these benefits on your own website, with some great features.
You will tend to pay for either the number of subscribers you have and/or the number of emails you send. Mailchimp allows you to have a list of 2000 email addresses and 12,000 mails/month before you get charged and I would probably recommend this service if you want a good, reliable platform and you are not a big user/sender.
Joomla & Wordpress
These are probably the two most used platforms for running websites. Wordpress is more popular, but it is a blogging engine that can do other things. Joomla is great, as it more feature rich that Wordpress, and I find it easier to use. People will tend to stick in one camp, but, for various reasons, I use both (I run/manage over 50 websites for myself and clients), but prefer Joomla.
So, what I do is use a plugin/component in each of these packages that offer many of the features of the dedicated engines and then use a special mail service to send them.
On Joomla, I use Acymailing Enterprise and Wordpress, Mailpoet Premium. They are very similar, but are the best I can find for each of the platforms. The main thing about them for me is convenience, but they do have a lot of good features.
- You only have to log into one platform and all can be managed in one place
- You can test your emails for a spam score to see how deliverable the are
- You can create automatic emails, created from articles and posts you have written
- You can have many different newsletters
- They come with some basic design templates and can be added to and you can also design you own
- They both will manage your bounces, keeping you list clean
- You can increase deliverability by adding special keys called DKIM & SPF
- Newsletters will be tracked and you can see various statistics
- Campaigns can be created, where
Both of these systems also offer free versions, but many of the above features are not included.
Mandrill - The Secret Post Office
So, you can now create fantastic emails, but you have to get them delivered. These systems allow you to send emails via your own server (in a couple of ways) and also via third party (SMTP) services. Using an SMTP service is necessary, especially on larger lists, as using your own server/website can lead to your emails being blocked (not good if you also send other emails, say receipts, confirmations etc) or, in some cases, your whole hosting account being cancelled.
When you use Mailchimp, after pressing the send button, they will push things out using their sister service, Mandrill. Mandrill servers are maintained to the highest quality, in respect to service reputation, meaning that there is an extrememly high chance of your emails being delivered. By using Mandrill, you also get 12,000 sends for free per month, but the cost to send over this limit is about £0.14 per thousand, which is peanuts, in the bigger picture.
The service will give statistics and also records bounces, blocked, reported mails etc, meaning that you can also keep you list very clean.
Using the above has been of great benefit, however, it is important that what you are sending is rigth for the audience and worthwhile. No matter how much you technically prepare for sending your emails, there are still lts of ways that they can fall foul of spam engines and ISP's - more on that to follow.