Email Marketing Wish List: What Email Newsletter Companies Should Offer

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I’m a big fan of Constant Contact for email marketing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve on a good thing. Here’s my wish list for a perfect email marketing service provider.

  • Flexible HTML templates that can be updated without HTML knowledge. Entrepreneurs and small business people should be able to choose a template, make some quick changes (upload a logo, change fonts and colors, etc.)
  • Ability to create or enhance standard HTML templates. Those with advanced design and coding skills should be able to go "under the hood" and make additional changes to the templates. This gives Web designers the opportunity to create non-cookie-cutter solutions for their clients. (And a big reason flyte uses Constant Contact.)
  • Ability to do A/B split testing. This is email marketing, after all. I should be able to quickly create a split so that I can test the efficacy of competing subject lines or calls-to-action. (This is missing from Constant Contact and probably my biggest pet peeve.)
  • Ability to track different signup paths to an ezine and give appropriate confirmation and welcome messages based on those signups. In other words, I want to know if it’s my blog or Web site that is generating more signups. Plus, it would be nice to know if people are subscribing to flyte log because of a particular article (10 Questions to Ask Before Setting up a Web Site or The 11 Biggest Mistakes Small Business Bloggers Make) or just signing up through a signup box on our site. These are important marketing questions that will help drive my business thinking down the road.
  • Ability to track down people who filed spam reports and beat them about the head and neck. I mean, who are these people? I run a double opt-in mailing list. You can’t get on my list without subscribing on our site and then clicking on a confirmation link. That’s not spam, that’s free choice! If you no longer want to receive the ezine then unsubscribe! Geez….

OK, I’m sure there are other items that belong on the wish list. What do you look for/want out of an email service provider?

Rich Brooks
Email Marketing for Small Business

  • http://mainebusiness.mainetoday.com Carl Natale

    We use Lyris' hosted service for about half of our email newsletters. I love its reporting abilities. I have way more reports than I know what to do with. They take care of culling the bad email addresses for us. And the customer service is great. The drawback is that it is a bit of a manual process to create a newsletter. I templatized the Daily Digest to make it as simple as possible but it's not something I can automate.

  • http://mainebusiness.mainetoday.com Carl Natale

    We use Lyris' hosted service for about half of our email newsletters. I love its reporting abilities. I have way more reports than I know what to do with. They take care of culling the bad email addresses for us. And the customer service is great. The drawback is that it is a bit of a manual process to create a newsletter. I templatized the Daily Digest to make it as simple as possible but it's not something I can automate.

  • http://www.scottfox.com/blog_index.html Scott Fox, Internet Riches

    Constant Contact is a good service. I've used and recommended them for years on my blog.

    It amazes me that they have not yet woken up to RSS feeds, though.

    Feedblitz and Aweber provide great services that take an RSS feed and AUTOMATICALLY turn it into an email newsletter. No more cutting and pasting nonsense as is required with CC.

    Instead Constant Contact recently launched surveys – huh? (Survey Monkey does great surveys for <$20/month. Why compete with that?) How about improving their own email services first instead?

    My next book is about online marketing and believe me I'm going to point this out.

  • http://www.scottfox.com/blog_index.html Scott Fox, Internet Riches

    Constant Contact is a good service. I've used and recommended them for years on my blog.

    It amazes me that they have not yet woken up to RSS feeds, though.

    Feedblitz and Aweber provide great services that take an RSS feed and AUTOMATICALLY turn it into an email newsletter. No more cutting and pasting nonsense as is required with CC.

    Instead Constant Contact recently launched surveys – huh? (Survey Monkey does great surveys for <$20/month. Why compete with that?) How about improving their own email services first instead?

    My next book is about online marketing and believe me I'm going to point this out.

  • http://www.flyteblog.com Rich Brooks

    Scott,

    Great point! I used to use AWeber for my email RSS feeds for flyte blog, but decided to go w/Feedburner on price ($0). However, I miss the unique subject lines AWeber would create; I've been told by people it was the subject lines that got them to read the posts!

    CC is missing out on this, and RSS feeds are a better fit for them that that survey tool which I've never used.

  • http://www.flyteblog.com Rich Brooks

    Scott,

    Great point! I used to use AWeber for my email RSS feeds for flyte blog, but decided to go w/Feedburner on price ($0). However, I miss the unique subject lines AWeber would create; I've been told by people it was the subject lines that got them to read the posts!

    CC is missing out on this, and RSS feeds are a better fit for them that that survey tool which I've never used.

  • http://www.zjournal.com Colin

    I can't get my head around why Constant Contact doesn't offer a better opt-out process. Seems to me that it's obvious that a person opting out may not want to actually opt-out of all communication, just the particular newsletter that impelled them to click on the unsubscribe link. There needs to be much more clarity in that process.

    Another thing that drives me nuts is that you do not have the option to force a text only email to customers. our organization has an email that we like to send out in text only because it performs better. the only way for CC to facilitate that is to change everyone in the DB to text only, then change them back– which we don't do. This means we have to use 2 email services which is annoying.

    And I agree that A/B testing should be much easier.

  • http://www.zjournal.com Colin

    I can't get my head around why Constant Contact doesn't offer a better opt-out process. Seems to me that it's obvious that a person opting out may not want to actually opt-out of all communication, just the particular newsletter that impelled them to click on the unsubscribe link. There needs to be much more clarity in that process.

    Another thing that drives me nuts is that you do not have the option to force a text only email to customers. our organization has an email that we like to send out in text only because it performs better. the only way for CC to facilitate that is to change everyone in the DB to text only, then change them back– which we don't do. This means we have to use 2 email services which is annoying.

    And I agree that A/B testing should be much easier.