From my research, there are plenty of them out there. Some of them are free to an extent, totally free or pay as you go. I looked into two options, Constant Contact and Mail Chimp. I didn't really have much time to really look deeply into both options and had to rely on feedback from some of the end-users. I chose Mail Chimp in the end. It has an intuitive interface, uses layman terms and best of all, includes an easy to manage mailing list for my requirements. And to top it off, this service is provided totally free, if you limit yourself to no more than 2000 mail-outs (e-mails) a month.
My website has a database of its own. Visitors can sign-up and also register to receive monthly newsletters and weekly Top Bargains. Mail Chimp has a subscribe function of its own too which you can custom design. So basically, there are two ways of being a subscriber - through the website or via Mail Chimp's form. The question I asked myself was, how do I integrate the two lists together, without having to do this manually?
Thankfully, it only took me 30 minutes to realise how easy it was to combine the two mailing lists. Mail Chimp allows you to either upload a CSV file or copy and paste from Excel. As long as you have set cell titles across the top of your Excel spreadsheet - First Name, Surname, E-mail, Newsletter (Yes/No) etc - Mail Chimp is clever enough to import your list without creating duplicates. This was the perfect solution! The rest of the interface is plain simple. Go through the Campaign wizard, fill-in the gaps, design your own e-mail template and off you go!
The reporting side is second to none. The number of e-mails opened, who opened, who subscribed, who clicked, who clicked on what, last open date, etc. All the reports you would ever need and want to track the success of the mail-out. For iPhone users, there is even a Mail Chimp app.
There are 3 things to take away from my initial experience in e-mail marketing:
- Make doubly sure your website database and the marketing tool can be combined and managed easily
- Reporting is the key to knowing what content works
- It doesn't have to be difficult!
Other related posts:
My Experience Developing BargainLover.co.nz
WWW of Browsers
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