There are a number of good mass email senders available to online marketers. The one you choose will impact the effectiveness of your campaign, your credibility and ultimately your bottom line. The information on this website compares two of the top mass email providers so you can make an informed decision on what is best for your business. I’ll also give you tips for maximizing your mass email campaign and how to use their services. Let’s get started!
I chose iContact and VerticalResponse to review simply because they are leaders in the field and I have had the opportunity to use both extensively. iContact has been providing mass email services since 2003, currently to over 600,000 users. VerticalResponse was created in 2001 and provides service to over 75,000 customers.
What makes these two leaders is their commitment to providing quality service with an eye to the changing mass e-mail sending environment. With passage of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, mass email marketing changed dramatically. It became very difficult to send bulk emails without a service. And the service you used could make or break your efforts. Both of these companies are very careful to ensure you don’t make a mistake and violate the laws. They offer specialized training and support and they review your e-mails before they are sent.
If you use mass email marketing as a vital part of your business strategy, it’s important to keep increasing your knowledge. Best practices change, laws and regulations change and the email environment itself changes on a regular basis. Simply making one or two tweaks to your campaigns can have a significant effect on how well your emails or newsletters are received and acted upon.
Knowing how important it is to keep up to date, both VerticalResponse and iContact hold webinars to educate anyone wanting to learn more about effective email marketing. They are generally 30 minutes to one hour in length and are offered both live and recorded. You don’t need an account to take advantage of this instruction.
Here are some of the upcoming webinars that you may find very helpful especially with the holiday season quickly approaching.
Testing Your Email and Lists For Success
Thursday, November 17, 2011 10:00 to 11:00 am PST
The VerticalResponse marketing team will show you how to get the most from your lists using the Segment tool. The Segment tool is a free application that allows you to create more targeted lists, run exclusions, and setup split tests. They will also show you how to test your subject lines and emails to get the best results from your email marketing efforts.
Creating a Successful Email
Thursday, November 17, 2011 1:00 to 2:00 pm PST
Your newsletter should be a way to help you stay connected with your customers and prospects as well as helping you grow your business. Is it? The VerticalResponse marketing team will discuss how to build a newsletter to create quality open and click rates, avoid the spam folders, and make your newsletter reader friendly.
Oops! Common Email Mistakes
Thursday, December 1, 2011 10:00 to 10:30 am PST
In this webinar the marketing team will discuss some of the most common email mistakes and how to fix them.
To take advantage of these webinars, click here to go to the iContact website and scroll to the bottom of the page. Under the iContact.com column, click on iContact Customer Support. You’ll find the webinars (both live and recorded) there as well as best practices and latest information.
Held on 6 Fridays 11:00 to 11:30 am EST from November 11 to December 23
Learn how your messages can get through to your subscribers’ inboxes. This webinar will familiarize you with email sending processes and provide tips for optimizing your send.
Create and Send Outstanding Newsletters
Wednesdays 3:00 to 4:00 pm EST November 16, 23, 30
Learn how to create and send a newsletter to your contacts that they will want to read. This webinar will go over the different ways you can build your message and email marketing best practices.
Vertical Response has added four new powerful features to their mass email service which automatically come with your account.
1. They have increased the number of free credits you get when you sign up for a new trial account. You can now send 500 (increased from 100) free emails, newsletters or event invitations with your trial account.
2. Vertical Response has added Event Marketing. This is a very easy way to promote an event. It includes the ability to invite people, manage the event with real time registration reports, and sell tickets. This new mass email service merits a post of its own so look for that after this.
3. Social Network Sharing is now integrated into the Vertical Response mass email setup. There is an area in the setup that allows you to have Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn buttons at the top or within your email. Your recipients can use these to post your email or newsletter to their account. When you launch your email, you can set it so a link is posted to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. In the case of Facebook, if you have both a personal and a business page, you can post to one or both. If you regularly post your newsletters to Facebook and Twitter, this can be a great time saver.
4. And lastly, a fun, free call to action button creator has been added to the Vertical Response website. You can set the text, shape, button and border colors, text font and size and add a drop shadow if you want. They send you an email with a link to download the code for your button. And as an added bonus, they give you some tips on how best to use the new button you created. What you get is a gif file that you can then add to your website. Here’s the one I created in a couple minutes.
So click on the button and take a look at Vertical Response when you’re looking for a mass email service. They offer more than the average company!
Vertical Response has recently added Event Marketing to their list of email marketing services. This is a really powerful addition that comes with your account and is automatically integrated with your existing mailing lists. You can use it to promote a physical or online event or, if you are a charitable organization, request donations.
The setup for creating your event is as easy as sending an email through the Vertical Response mass email system. There are templates built in to make it very quick. You simply add your choice of logo, website address, text, picture(s) and video in the WYSIWYG builder. The system creates an event web address hosted within your account as well as the email that you send to invite people to your event. The invitation email links to your event webpage so when someone responds, they see the full page.
Here are some of the things you can do with this complete event marketing system:
Promote free events and sell tickets for paid events at different levels of attendance for different prices
Request donations if you are a charitable organization
Accept payments through PayPal
Feature and solicit sponsors for your event
Set an ending date after which no tickets will be available
Set a limit on how many tickets can be sold
Show a picture, slideshow or video on the sidebar of the event webpage
Help your attendees with the map it and download to calendar features on the event webpage
Send invitations to your existing mailing list or a new group of people
Use the Social Sharing function to post your event marketing link to your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and let your invitees do the same as well as add it to a blog, bookmark it, email and IM it
Track opens, clicks and forwards for your event invitations the same way you do emails and also track registrations
Increase your event marketing options on your website by using a text link, an animated widget or a button like this:
If you do a free event, there is no charge for using this event marketing service. You will, however, be charged credits for the invitation you send just like any other mass email. If you charge for tickets, then you will be charged 2.5% of the ticket price or donation amount plus $0.99 per ticket or donation. Since all of the transactions take place through PayPal, there will be the usual PayPal fees collected on their end.
If you add it all up, I think you’ll agree with me that this is a very affordable and easy way to accomplish your event marketing goals. Sign up for a free Vertical Response trial account to test it for yourself!
After I did my first tour video of VerticalResponse I got some comments that I had missed the newest upgrade to their system, their new email builder. I was told that the new tool was much better and boy were they right! I took a look and then had a chance to use it to set up a mass email in an account I manage.
Quite frankly I’m really impressed. I’ve used a lot of builders for email and website design offered by a number of providers and this is amazingly easy to use. The different options are clearly shown so there’s no searching around to find what you want. If you’ve used builders in the past, I’m sure you know what I mean!
I’m also someone who likes to make things match. So if I’m doing a broadcast email for one of my clients, we want it to match their website look. The editable templates allow me to do that. There are over 500 templates to choose from so you can easily find one that suits your purpose.
So it sounds easy to use one of these mass email senders, but if you have no experience with this type of service, how easy is it really? You may wonder if you can do it. That’s why they offer a free trial test drive. You can try it out for yourself and see how it works. But if you’d like a quick preview even before that, take a look at this short video tour inside VerticalResponse.
I’ve been using VerticalResponse to send mass e-mails for over 3 years with great success. I’ve found their system to be reliable and easy to use. Their online interface is easy to navigate and if there are any questions, they provide excellent support. So here are the top 5 reasons I suggest you use VerticalResponse when you want to send mass emails to your contacts.
1. Ease of use. Their software allows you to use their templates and builder or create your own using html code. For most people the builder will be the right choice, but the html function allows experienced designers to use a pre-designed file to match their business brand.
2. Reliability. In all the time I’ve used their service, down time has been rare. Occasionally I’ve experienced a short delay in accessing the system, but it has not halted my work flow. All of the e-mails I’ve scheduled to be sent have gone on time without fail.
3. Tracking.After broadcast reports provide me invaluable information on the effectiveness of my campaign. For each broadcast I know how many e-mails were delivered, how many people opened it, how many clicked on the links in my e-mail and if there were any that unsubscribed from my list.
4. Deliverability and legal safeguards. VerticalResponse uses authentication procedures with the different email providers to be sure your emails get through. They also have built in to their system all of the necessary information that must be in each email to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. You don’t have to worry if you totally understand all the requirements. They’ve got you covered.
5. Affordable, flexible pricing.Whether you send a lot of emails or just a few, their pricing allows you to budget accordingly.
That’s just a few of the reason I use VerticalResponse. Try their free trial and see how they can help your marketing too. And be sure to come back here again for tips and techniques to make the most out of your mass email sending plan.
Here’s a short video tour inside the iContact mass email sender system. You’ll see the basic interface and the navigation tabs to the different areas. I did a quick setup of an e-mail using the builder to show you how easy it is to use. Take a look and then try it yourself.
iContact is the first provider I starting using for sending out mass emails. At the time I wasn’t very experienced with the process so I wanted to use a respected, well established provider. I researched a number of email sender companies and decided on iContact for a number of reasons.
1. Ease of use. As a newbie, I found the online iContact system very easy to figure out and navigate. Over the years I’ve used it, they have made improvements that have made it even easier. They have a builder with templates and you can load your own html as well.
2. Reliablity. I’ve never worried about whether or not I can access the system and if my e-mails have gone out. The only down time I’ve experienced is when they do upgrades, but they give ample notice that one is coming.
3. Tracking. After sending out your mass emails, the iContact system gives you a report on how many people opened your message, clicked on links, unsubscribed or bounced. If you’re into charts and graphs, they have a tracking dashboard just for you!
4. Deliverability and legal safeguards. iContact is very diligent about ensuring that all emails sent comply with the CAN-SPAM Act and will be delivered by all the various providers. I remember a time a couple years ago when many of the more popular email services were becoming difficult to work with. iContact worked through the issues and now there are no problems.
5. Affordable pricing and extras. iContact pricing is monthly only with various levels depending on how many subscribers you have. Included with all of their plans are a number of extras like Autoresponders, survey tools and an iPhone app.
If you would like help getting your account and first mass email template set up, contact the webmaster at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Affordable packages available to get you set up. Then you can take it from there.