Using Your Email Program
You may already have Outlook, Thunderbird, Mail or some other email program on your computer, so you could just use that, right? Wrong. You could use that – if you wanted to look like an amateur.
There are a few problems with trying to do it yourself:
- Your design will not be consistent. The built in design tools rarely follow true HTML email guidelines, so your message will appear different across the many systems (not just the desktop programs, but GMail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, etc) that your subscribers may be using.
- You will not be able to track your success. We always need to keep ROI in mind, so we need a tool that will tell us how many people received our email, how many opened it, what they clicked on, etc.
- You will not be able to send easily. Most ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) use something called throttling. Throttling limits the number of emails you can send in a certain period of time. Most ISP’s don’t publish these numbers to discourage spamming. That makes for a lot of trial and error.
- You will not be able to easily manage subscribes and unsubscribes. People will have to reply, you’ll have to mark them somehow and hope you don’t message them again.
Using An Email Service Provider (ESP)
ESP’s fix all of the aforementioned problems. The only possible downsides are a learning curve and expense. We all know the SCUBA industry is a little slow right now, so we’d like to avoid any unnecessary expenses.
Luckily for your SCUBA business, I’ve tested quite a few ESP’s including AWeber, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, MadMimi and MailChimp.
I <3 MailChimp
I use MailChimp and LOVE their service. Here are a few of my main reasons:
- Their Forever Free plan allows you to have up to 500 people on your list for…you guessed it: Free. Most SCUBA stores won’t need more than that.
- They’re funny people. Humor is scattered around the site everywhere. I can appreciate that.
- TONS of design options. They can mimic your site, they have basic templates you can customize, professionally designed templates or basic yet eye-appealing templates. Options are always good.
- Their email marketing system is easy to use. It’s all wizard-based so you just follow the steps. If you need help, they have great instructional videos at every step of the process.
- You can use existing lists as long as you captured the email addresses legitimately. Other providers won’t let you use lists unless they are built using their systems.
There are tons of advanced features in their email marketing platform we’ll discuss later.
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About the MailChimp links: in the name of full disclosure, the links to MailChimp are affiliate links. If you use the Forever Free plan, which I expect most SCUBA businesses to use, I get nothing. So, affiliate yes, retirement no 🙂 If you think I’m recommending them because of their affiliate program, you’d be mistaken. All of the other providers offer real cash money affiliate incentives, MailChimp doesn’t.
Photo via Mzelle Biscotte