I’ll tell you right up front I’m not going to select email newsletter software for you in this article. What I will do is give you a framework for exploring which newsletter software features are worth considering when you are ready to get serious about sending an effective e-newsletter each month.
Here’s the features you’ll want to consider when you are looking at setting up your newsletter.
Of course you want to not spend a bundle on your software but you don’t want to go cheap either. I’ve found two main pricing models you’ll encounter.
First, you’ll see pricing which is based on the size of your list. If you have 50K names, you’ll pay a fixed rate each month to keep up to that number of email addresses in your account. Generally you’ll be allowed to send to this full list 4 to 6 times before incurring any overage charges.
Alternatively, you’ll pay on a per email sent basis. This can work out in your favor if you are CERTAIN you will only send one time per month to the list.
You will find that because this is a pretty competitive business these software companies keep a close eye on each other to ensure they don’t lose business because of a price disadvantage.
For email newsletters, you don’t need really sophisticated software that manages complicated sales and marketing funnels or ecommerce features. Stick with the basics.
Almost all of the Email Service Providers (ESP) will offer you both pre-designed templates or template editors which make it hard for you to go wrong in your email designs.
I’ll say this about templates; this is the LEAST important feature you can evaluate in a software provider. I know. This goes against everything you believe in at this point.
The reason is quite simple. These templates are designed by a designer or designers who have never had to make a living sending emails with their results measured for success. (which is what we have done in over 2,500 different campaigns)
Their templates look great and even are designed for particular industries in mind…
… but generally speaking they aren’t optimized for results. Sure, by accident some may work great, but unless you have experience in this area you won’t know which.
My advice is simple. Don’t spend much, if any time evaluating templates. The most simple designs are the most effective. ALL Email Service Providers have a simple template.
Use that and focus on getting GREAT content into your e-newsletter.
3. Ability to segment
All ESP’s have this feature and I like to use it to send different variations of the newsletter. I might have a segment for my clients and another for prospects.
I would use different language in both. For my clients, I focus on wording, which supports client retention and for my prospects I use wording (and offers) that move people along the sales process to increase the odds of converting them to clients.
It’s a bit more work but gives you much better results.
One area where almost everyone is falling short in the email newsletter department is the use of autoresponders that kick in when someone joins your newsletter list.
Set up a series of messages that welcome people to your list, tell them what to expect, and spend some time to build a relationship. This investment early on helps you to remind your readers how they found you and why they want to hear from you.
This is particularly important if the reader joined the day after your last newsletter and has to wait 30 days for the next one!
5. Double optin
All systems offer this feature and you’ll want to make a choice whether to have each subscriber confirm their email address when they enroll, or when you enroll them in your email newsletter.
Not everyone will confirm their email address so you’ll end up with a smaller list, but those that do take that extra step will be that much more interested in hearing from you so you’ll have a higher quality list.
And higher quality translates into all kinds of benefits these days.
However, make sure you know whether the ESP forces you to use a double optin or gives you the option. This is important if you’re importing a list into their system.
All ESPs these days do have tracking and you’ll want to make sure you put it to use. Spend the time after every newsletter to review your open rates, your click rates and your unsubscribe rates.
Monitoring this data will let you know how your email newsletter is resonating with your readers. People really do read this stuff and remember what you sent them.
If it’s good stuff, you benefit… if it’s weak, you lose credibility.
Bottom line – most Email Service Providers will meet your needs these days but there are differences so look around for the BEST fit.