I ran into a colleague recently who was excited about a free email blast program he’d downloaded. With this program, he could send email directly from his computer. He thought it was great that he was going to save $30/month in subscription fees on his email marketing.
That excitement turned quickly to chagrin when I explained key reasons it’s better to use an online service like iContact (this is the one we use).
First and foremost, the good email services work closely with internet service providers (ISPs) to ensure that your email actually reaches your targeted destination. A desktop program is nearly worthless if you’ve been flagged as a spammer and all your emails get blocked.
Another reason a service is better is that many ISPs and mail servers limit the number of emails you can send simultaneously. You may think you’ve sent hundreds of messages only to find out later that just 50 actually made it past your ISP. The tricky part about all this is that you may not get any error messages so there’s no obvious way to be sure what happened. A service is built with mass quantities of email in mind and has reporting built right in. This provides detailed stats on what was delivered, what was opened, what was forwarded, and what was clicked.
Third reason: CAN-SPAM regulations went into effect a few years ago. They’ve had little impact on spam, which is more of a problem than ever, but nonetheless we small business owners must comply or risk governmental wrath. Services generally enforce regulatory requirements, including simple subscription management for your recipients. This eases any worries over legal ramifications.
There are many additional features and benefits which vary by provider. We like iContact because of the easy-to-use interface, great reports, surveys, and multi-message autoresponders (I’ll post later about all the cool things you can do with this feature!).
Not sure whether it’s for you? Most services offer a free trial so you can try before you buy.