Thus, while we are still firm advocates of establishing a social media presence and utilizing it for customer service, marketing, and sales, it’s important to make sure you’re still reaching those that don’t read your company’s blog and don’t use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. And the most convenient way to do that remains a staple of Internet marketing: the email newsletter.
Email newsletters have evolved a lot since the early days, however, and there are now lots of different options for creating and sending one on a budget. Here is a look at a few different providers:
Constant Contact: Perhaps the best known name in email marketing, Constant Contact has been in the online marketing business since 1995. It offers a very comprehensive selection of design templates to choose from or the ability to design your own style from scratch. It’s also easy to integrate into your website, so you can encourage sign-ups in your web marketing.
Constant Contact’s pricing is also reasonable for most small businesses, and based on how big your subscriber list is. If your list includes less than 5,000 email addresses, you’ll be paying $50 per month or less. Even at 25,000 subscribers, the monthly fee is only $150.
Mad Mimi: If Constant Contact is the Microsoft of email marketing, think of Mad Mimi as the Google of the medium. As opposed to feature-rich, somewhat complex software (some might use the term “bloated”), Mad Mimi is lightweight and extremely quick and easy to get started with. As I wrote when I initially reviewed the service on Mashable last year, you can have a basic newsletter customized and ready to send within a few minutes.
This approach has been working well for the company – they recently told me that they’ve grown more than 2,000 percent since launching last year. They also undercut Constant Contact on pricing – at 25,000 subscribers, their fee is $75 per month.
MailChimp: Like Constant Contact and Mad Mimi, MailChimp makes it relatively easy to design, send, and track an email newsletter. The difference is that it allows you to pull your content from an RSS feed. In other words, instead of needing to come up with new original content for your newsletter, you can simply have your newsletter automatically send out your most recent blog entries to email subscribers.
This approach isn’t for everyone, but if you have a highly segmented audience of customers, some of whom are Web savvy and follow you in social media and others who do little else on the Web besides email, it’s a good way to double up your efforts. Similar to other providers, MailChimp has tiered pricing based on how many subscribers are on your mailing list.
(Disclosure: MailChimp is a sponsor of Mashable)
Regardless of which service you choose for your email newsletter, there are two fairly obvious keys to making it successful: producing quality content and building a large subscriber base through successful marketing. The former is up to you, but the latter can be aided by promoting your newsletter using social media, in stores, and in promotions that offer customers an incentive to provide their email address. One thing is for certain: email isn’t going anywhere, so it’s important to continue to utilize it as a channel for communicating with customers.