Nowadays, email marketing seems to have become a must-have tool for solopreneurs and small business owners. There are so many benefits! Ali Brown, aka Ezine Queen (used to be), says:
Publishing your own e-zine (e-mail newsletter) is one of the most effective ways to stay in touch with prospects, gain "expert" status, build a massive mailing list, and get more sales and / or clients.
And naturally, so many service providers have been popping up in the email marketing scene, confusing everyone. How do you know which one is the best option for you?
As of the writing of this article, I see four major players in small business email marketing services: 1ShoppingCart (or its variations), Aweber, Constant Contact, and iContact. Each service has its unique strength, and it's a good idea to evaluate each by taking advantage of the free trial offers. (Do not we all love those free trials!) It's worth taking some time to compare the services before making a decision because, once you start building your list with one provider, switching to another provider at some point could be a little (or sometimes big) headache. Why? Because you can not simply transfer your list from one provider to another, and you will most likely lose lots of your subscribers in the process.
Let me explain this in a little more details. Have you ever signed up for an email newsletter, and received an instant email, asking you to click on a link to confirm the subscription in order to start receiving the newsletters? This whole process is called "double opt-in" or "confirmed opt-in", and is becoming very popular in the email marketing industry. Constant Contact lists the advantages of double opt-in method as follows:
By adding the confirmation email to the subscription process, you ensure direct permission and lower your chances of having spam complaints made against you.
- COI (confirmed opt-in) is an industry best practice that reduces the probability that a bad address may be added to a list, ie someone signing up with a spamtrap or another individual's address.
- COI provides a higher deliverability rate for those contacts who confirm. Mail to those contacts is sent from special mail servers and IP addresses that are very rarely blocked.
- COI has become more prevalent within the past 2 years so your contacts will not be surprised by the confirmation email.
- COI is looked on favorably by the general ISP and receiving community.
All good stuff. But, if you change your email marketing provider, you may need to request your subscribers to double opt-in again with the new provider. And the chances are, many people will not bother with this double opt-in, since, dropping out from your email list.
Some email providers (at least at this point) allow you to manually transfer names from your old provider, but the delivery rate will most likely drop if you skip the double opt-in process. I also have a sneaky feeling that, in the not-so-distant future, double opt-in may become mandatory as anti-spam law (CAN-SPAM Act) becomes more strict.
I plan to write my review of some of the major email marketing services in the future. Stay tuned!