Managing or Starting an Email Marketing List

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I’ve been there. The list I was managing by hand was just over 200 people. It was still in the realm of manageable but it was definitely not efficient or a good use of my time. Now that I have moved onto 1110330_57736617-1email marketing systems and email list management tools, there’s no going back.
As someone setting up marketing programs for multiple small and medium-sized businesses I’m looking for the broadest and most scalable platform possible. Also, I want to make sure that once the companies set themselves up on the system, that it will work well, grow with them and provide flexibility in terms of how they interact with their customers and prospective customers. I don’t want them to have to migrate their mailing list to a new system once they “grow up”!

So far I’ve found that 1ShoppingCart has a very broadest portfolio of offerings and is very scalable. You’ll pay for it – if you get the full package it can run $1200/year (but there are less expensive options). It has robust autoresponders, a shopping cart for physical and digital goods as well as the ability to manage and send out newsletters. What it lacks are some of the drag and drop tools, the slick interfaces, and newsletter templates that companies such as Vertical Response and Aweber offer. Some of the other companies also offer survey tools, which is a nice feature to have (while not critical for what I’m doing).

Here are some features to consider when looking for your ideal email marketing tool. I’ve labeled the ones that I consider “core” (at least for my needs) with a (C).

  • (C) Newsletter creation and delivery tools: The Ability to create and delivery newsletters or other broadcast messages
  • (C) Newsletter templates: Templates to quickly and easily create professional-looking newsletters
  • (C) “Complex” Autoresponders: Autoresponders that can schedule multiple communications based on events (e.g. someone purchasing from you or signing up to download for a report). I say “complex” because I want more than a simple email sent to anyone who emails a certain address (like an out of office autoresponse)
  • (C) Customer sign-up forms: Ability to create various forms and pop-ups for customers to sign up for newsletters, reports or other services
  • (C) Email campaign analytics: Analysis of email campaigns
  • (C) Free (or nearly free) trial: The ability to test-drive the system!
  • Digital content / eBook sale and delivery: The ability to post digital content and deliver it for free or for a price
  • Shopping cart functionality: Having an integrated shopping cart for purchasing of digital content or physical goods (but you still need a credit card payment processor – could be paypal, your bank or other)
  • Survey creation tools: The ability to create and run surveys
  • Direct mail / postcards: The ability to create (online) postcards and mail them out using a Web interface; should include the ability to purchase mailing lists
  • Pricing: Definitely are not looking for enterprise pricing here…it needs to be affordable with options to scale up

Here is the list that I reviewed:

These top few are all very competitive but have different feature sets that will appeal to different types of users. Take a look at the features they offer and then take a look at the Websites and play around before you make your choice. I also recommend doing a free trial and test driving the systems before you buy.

1ShoppingCart.com

  • (C) Newsletter creation and delivery tools: Yes
  • (C) Newsletter templates: No, you need to create your own in a text editor or HTML editor
  • (C) Complex Autoresponders: Yes, seems to be one of the most robust
  • (C) Customer sign-up forms: Yes, you can create very customized forms and link them to autoresponders
  • (C) Email campaign analytics: Yes
  • (C) Free (or nearly free) trial: Pretty close – as of this writing, $3.95 for a month
  • Digital content / eBook sale and delivery: Yes, seems to be one of the only ones to have this
  • Shopping cart functionality: Yes
  • Survey creation tools: No
  • Direct mail / postcards: No
  • Pricing: Starts at $29 without many of the features
  • *Bonus: Affiliate Management system: You can manage your affiliates who will sell products for you (for a cut)

Aweber

  • (C) Newsletter creation and delivery tools: Yes
  • (C) Newsletter templates: Yes
  • (C) Complex Autoresponders: Yes
  • (C) Customer sign-up forms: Yes
  • (C) Email campaign analytics: Yes
  • (C) Free (or nearly free) trial: Yes, 1 month
  • Digital content / eBook sale and delivery: No
  • Shopping cart functionality: No, but can integrate with shopping carts
  • Survey creation tools: No
  • Direct mail / postcards: No
  • Pricing: Starts at $19/month

Constant Contact

  • (C) Newsletter creation and delivery tools: Yes
  • (C) Newsletter templates: Yes
  • (C) Complex Autoresponders: Yes
  • (C) Customer sign-up forms: Yes
  • (C) Email campaign analytics: Yes
  • (C) Free (or nearly free) trial: Yes, 60 days
  • Digital content / eBook sale and delivery: No
  • Shopping cart functionality: No
  • Survey creation tools: Yes
  • Direct mail / postcards: No
  • Pricing: Starts at $15/month

iContact

  • (C) Newsletter creation and delivery tools: Yes
  • (C) Newsletter templates: Yes
  • (C) Complex Autoresponders: Yes
  • (C) Customer sign-up forms: Yes
  • (C) Email campaign analytics: Yes
  • (C) Free (or nearly free) trial: Yes, 15 days
  • Digital content / eBook sale and delivery: No
  • Shopping cart functionality: No
  • Survey creation tools: Yes
  • Direct mail / postcards: No
  • Pricing: Starts at $9.95/month

Vertical Response

  • (C) Newsletter creation and delivery tools: Yes
  • (C) Newsletter templates: Yes
  • (C) Complex Autoresponders: No
  • (C) Customer sign-up forms: Yes
  • (C) Email campaign analytics: Yes
  • (C) Free (or nearly free) trial: Yes, 30 days
  • Digital content / eBook sale and delivery: No
  • Shopping cart functionality: No
  • Survey creation tools: Yes
  • Direct mail / postcards: Yes
  • Pricing: Starts at $10/month

fullpartner

  • (C) Newsletter creation and delivery tools: Yes
  • (C) Newsletter templates: Not sure
  • (C) Complex Autoresponders: Yes
  • (C) Customer sign-up forms: Yes
  • (C) Email campaign analytics: I’m assuming so but you should check
  • (C) Free (or nearly free) trial: Yes, 60 days
  • Digital content / eBook sale and delivery: No
  • Shopping cart functionality: Yes, includes catalogs, payment options, fulfillment and order management
  • Survey creation tools: Yes
  • Direct mail / postcards: No
  • Pricing: Starts at $495 for set up and 150/month – more expensive but definitely has a lot of great tools
  • *Bonus: has a CRM system to track prospects, opportunities, sales, customers, etc.
  • *Bonus: Affiliate Management system: Can have affiliates who will sell products for you
  • *Bonus: Event Registration and Management system: Online and offline events
  • *Bonus: Communities and Membership sites: Discussion boards, chat rooms, events

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