Friday, 24 January 2014

Promote Thyself!

Communication strategies have caused email marketing to take an increasingly important role. There are many services to design and send email newsletters, including the popular Smore, MailChimp, and Constant Contact.

Smore allows the user to create newsletters quickly and easily. The templates are attractive, but have limited customization ability.  The  structure consists of a title and the user can add different types of fields: text, link, video, audio, image, event, etc.

Newsletters can be instantly sent to a mailing list. The analytic feature allows the user to see who opened the email.                       

Smore takes advantage of the social web. Newsletters can be shared to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more.

The newsletter defaults to an image. This could be problematic for email clients whose provider does not support images. It is possible to create mailing lists, but the user must include the emails every time a newsletter is sent.  A work around is to send the newsletter to the user's email address and, once received, to resend it to the contacts.

MailChimp features a permanently-free option under 2,000 subscribers (maximum 12,000 emails/month). However, the free MailChimp does not give the user access to certain tools for increasing the email’s deliverability.

MailChimp has professional-looking newsletter templates programmed in HTML and easy to customize. MailChimp  allows the user to choose from a list of colour schemes. MailChimp has a special button called “Get Colors from My Site,” which tries to auto-generate colors and images on the chosen template to match the user's website.It includes four categories of campaigns: regular, plain-text, RSS Driven and A/B Split. The latter is not free.

The MailChimp’s contact list manager allows the user to segregate email lists into groups according to their interests (for example, Teacher-Librarian, Technology, Professional Learning). MailChimp has multiple, separate email lists with segments. Since MailChimp has multiple lists, unsubscribing someone from one list does not remove that email addresss from the entire account.

Social media integration allows the email campaign to be placed on Facebook and Twitter, and allows your subscribers to comment about your email on Facebook. When the email is to be sent, the user can propagate a link to a web-based version of the email on your social media accounts.

The least attractive feature of MailChimp is that, in its free version, all the campaigns are accompanied with the “made with MailChimp”.

Similar to MailChimp, Constant Contact has professional-looking newsletter templates programmed in HTML and easy to customize.

Constant Contact allows users to post emails to social networks in one click, and make it easy for the user's contacts to share the emails with their own social networks. Constant Contact posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and “Other” (the “Add This” app, which adds several hundred social media platforms).

MailChimp’s campaign archive toolbar also provides a permanent, free link to the email campaign on its server. However, Constant Contact will host a webpage version of the email free for 30 days, but permanent archiving costs $5/month.

Constant Contact features a 60-day free trial which enables unlimited emails to 100 contacts. Constant Contact’s fees are then $15/month.

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