Virtual Hired Hand - eNewsletters

I’ve seen some pretty crappy email marketing systems. You know the ones that cause you to bite your nails, grit your teeth, and almost want to curse at it, while you get out the next newsletter or broadcast.

At this stage of the game, just hearing some product names I cringe because I know what systems would work so much better, however I’ve learned to not give advice unless I’m asked. Instead I keep my opinions to my blog.

When you’re first starting out you don’t know what you don’t know and you can only go by what you’ve been advised. When I first started paying attention to blogs, signing up for different free reports and later purchasing products I quickly noticed something in common with most of the people I enjoyed and admired online. They were all using AWeber for their sign-up forms, also called opt-ins.

From the outside looking in, you don’t really get it at first and maybe wonder if it’s the only tool offering this type of service. Of course I quickly learned the list could go on for days in regards to email marketing systems.

So how do you choose if you’re just getting started or getting more serious about your business?

You have two choices:

  1. Go with what everyone else is using or

  2. Take a gamble and try something few people you follow online online use because afterall, it’s FREE right?

The first eNewsletter I sent out, I used Constant Contact back in 2007. They offered a 14 day free trial. The only list I had at the time was from my art shows. After my sales presentation, I’d have everyone fill out a guest card which included their email addresses. Constant Contact allowed you to import names and emails without a confirmation which worked great in this case.

I didn’t know I should not put someone’s name and email address on a list and start emailing them without getting a confirmation or what’s called a double opt-in. I just had the paper with their email address on it and figured, if they put their email down surely they didn’t mind me sending an email.

After the trial period I chose not to sign-up. I’d go back and forth testing out Constant Contact over the next year or so, but never fully committing to their service. It was overwhelming and I didn’t have anything to say regularly to justify buying their service.

The second newsletter I sent out, I used MadMimi. It was a free product that lured me based on how easy it was to use and did I mention it was free? I had a small list of ladies I emailed regarding free fitness classes. By this time, I’d started Virtual Hired Hand and was fully aware of the power of email marketing. I also knew the importance of not just sending people mass emails because I had them in my personal address book, instead I emailed each person individually and sent them to a page where they could get signed up for my practice fitness sessions.

Madmimi served me well because I wasn’t selling anything, it was easy to use, and it was free. However, I knew once I got serious about sending emails it would not be my service of choice. There were many days I’d see tweets from them about the service being down and how emails were not going out. This would be a real pain if you were using it for a revenue generating business.

I am still in the trenches using other products for client projects since everyone does not use the same service. I won’t discuss each system my clients use and whether I’d give it a thumbs up or thumbs down. You can see my list of recommended resources to learn about that.

However, I do want to give a loud almost screaming warning to anyone using or considering MailChimp for their email marketing.

I was shocked to learn:

  1. While they tell you it’s free up to 500 contacts, what they don’t tell you is that your contacts could be counted more than once.

    Let’s say you’ve got three different list, one for your newsletter, one for a free teleclass, and one for a paid teleclass. If someone signs up for all three, guess how many times MailChimp counts them?
    3 times. This means what you thought to be 1 contact has now become 3 because they are on 3 different lists. I couldn’t believe this. Unbelievable.

  2. For every web form you create, you must also create a new list.

    Let’s say you want a web form in your sidebar, on your promotion page, and one on your Facebook page. For tracking purposes you want three different forms, all going through the same series of follow messages and adding your contacts to one list. MailChimp will not allow you to do this. Instead you must create a list for each form you create.

  3. Serious business owners are not using MailChimp. While some “experts” may consider it a nice service, are they using it? And if they are using it, how much revenue are they generating with this product?

Growing up I was not one to follow the crowd. I even took French because the majority of the people at my school were taking Spanish. However, there’s a reason “everyone” is doing it.

I tried out other systems that required you download software on your computer and send text emails only, however never found the right one. I ended up going back to the product that was used most frequently online. Working online you go with the crowd and ask questions when you get there.

AWeber has been my email service of choice for over a year now and I have not looked back.

Now it’s your turn. What have been your experiences with different email marketing systems? How did you choose?