Ready to get your email newsletter up and running? Picking the best software is critcial, right from the start, because transferring your account later may result in losing some of your subscribers.
Here are some of my favorite services along with reasons for using each one:
Aweber – Easy-to-use, good deliverability, pricing structure based on the number of subscribers – 500, 2,500, 5,000, 10,000 and 25,000, supports RSS and includes HTML templates. Find out more about aWeber here.
Drip – Drip is more advanced and allows you to do advanced automations and tracking of your subscribers. This is the service I’m currently using. You can get started for free. Get details here.
Here are the 12 questions you should ask before you sign up for any service:
1. Does the email newsletter software offer a free or low-cost trial version, a demo version or a money-back guarantee? You want a chance to experiment with the software to see if you like the way it works or not.
2. Does it offer free newsletter templates? Especially if you are setting up your own newsletter, you want an easy-to-design newsletter that lets you incorporate your business logo or book cover.
3. What does the email newsletter cost, and even more importantly, what does it cost as your list grows? Your goal should be to have 10,000 subscribers, and several of the services, while inexpensive at the beginning, start rising in a hurry once you have 500, 1,000 or just 2,500 subscribers.
4. Can you send unlimited messages? Many of the email newsletter programs will charge you per message sent rather than per user. We never recommend these services because we want you to feel confident sending messages whenever you want to (especially when you want to announce something new).
5. What does the service do to ensure deliverability of your newsletters? It can be difficult to get email delivered. Many of the largest services create relationships with the major internet service providers to help track their deliverability. They also require double opt-in which means that when an email address is entered, a confirmation link is sent to the new subscriber to ensure they did want to subscribe (this stops spammers who use email addresses without permission).
6. Do you have unlimited sequential autoresponder services? An autoresponder is a special kind of email functionality that lets you set up a series of messages (for example, a message a week for the next 52 weeks) and then each time someone subscribes, they will receive the messages in order. It doesn’t matter when they subscribe, they always get the first message and then each one in order.
This can be an easy additional revenue stream if you can reposition your content into a weekly or monthly “course” delivered by email.
7. Can you personalize the messages? Most services let you collect your visitors’ names and then let you put the names in the newsletter so you can say, “Hi Julie” at the beginning of each message.
8. How long has the service been around? The real challenge for email newsletter services is staying power. Many of the free services, especially, started out strong but then their policies prevented them from being a long-term solution, and they shut down leaving their publishers without a way to reach their subscribers.
9. Does the service support CAN-SPAM requirements? The CAN-SPAM legislation has some very specific requirements for email newsletter publishers, and many of the services handle the requirements for you.
10. Can you schedule your messages to go out sometime in the future? This feature is really helpful when you plan to go on vacation. You can schedule your newsletter so it will continue to go out without you.
11. Is your newsletter archived for you? One of the best ways to get new subscribers is to share past issues with them. Some of the email newsletter services will set up archives for you.
#12 – How easy is the software to use? You’ll be able to determine this from the free trial versions and the demo. If you will be doing your newsletter yourself, I’ve found aWeber to be one of the easiest to use.
#13 – What kind of tagging and automation features are available? While you won’t need anything complex at the beginning, features which allow you to tag users when the click on links or visit pages of your site can be really useful. Plus if you can set up automations based on these actions, you are way ahead of the game. Drip is one of the best for this. It’s a little pricier but the new features will set you apart if you are ready for them.
My number one piece of advice about email newsletter software is to get started with the right service from the very beginning. Moving around later will cost you subscribers. You may have to resubscribe everyone to your new service (and lots of people won’t take the time to resubscribe). It’s much better to pay a little more now and have a long-term solution.
Bonus Question #14 – Make sure you contact support during your test drive. You want to know how responsive they are – does it take a few hours, a day or a few days? Is it email only? Or can you get help by phone?
I hope that helps you find your perfect email newsletter software.