Welcome the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which is an acronym for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003.
With the enactment of this legislation, e-mail became a whole new game and if you are still sending as you did prior, you are throwing a significant portion of your marketing time and money directly into a SPAM trash can.
This Federal law prompted a number of new businesses and services, including e-mail marketing services such as Constant Contact and Swiftpage. There are several more, but I will focus on those two.
At this time, there are small differences in features and functionality between Constant Contact and Swiftpage, but Constant Contact appears to have an amazingly large advertising budget. They even advertised during the SuperBowl! It's all well and good that they have such visibility, but as a long-time ACT! user, I prefer the Swiftpage/ACT! E-marketing integration: It allows me to enter information once in my ACT! database, then connect directly to the e-marketing service from ACT!. Constant Contact requires duplicate entry for me or I need to download contacts from ACT! to Excel and import them to Constant Contact... It just takes more time if you are an ACT! user! If you don't use ACT!, both programs can import contacts from Excel.
Some other reasons e-mail marketing programs are worth the fee:
* They were created and designed to help your e-mail marketing reach the recipient. They work to keep their IPs "whitelisted" by setting reasonable policies and communicating with the Internet Service Providers (ISPs). They spend time and resources educating the user on SPAM, featuring permission based marketing, and most offer SPAM checkers allowing you to identify potential problems prior to sending. You do not need to be the expert on all the little "nuances", but for example, subject lines containing special characters such as exclamation points are commonly blocked. Certain words are commonly blocked. Subject lines in ALL CAPS are commonly blocked... etc. Your e-mail marketing service will value your business and should work to be your advocate in getting your e-mails through the ISP maze and to the intended recipient.
* Most offer some type of reporting feature allowing you to see who actually opens your e-mails. Now this is information you can use! Without a service, you send your e-mails out into the wide world of e-mail, and assume most people receive it and read it (although a huge percentage are trapped in the maze referenced above!) How many of us have made follow-up call after call to find that the intended reader did not receive or see the e-mail? What if you knew who opened your e-mail and then prioritized your follow-up calls based on that?
We're all budget conscience these days, but I find real value in this ability at $14.95 per month.
And based on your needs, more features can be available for a slight increase in price: For example, you can schedule your e-mails to be sent at a future time, so your e-mail marketing campaign can be set up all at once and then sent in steps...
Bottom line, e-marketing services help you reach the intended recipients... which is a critical step in getting results!
For more information on features, usage potential, and training, give me a call. Or you can download a free trial and explore the possibilities. For a free trial, click this link and scroll down the page for Sage E-Marketing for ACT!. If you don't use ACT!, there is an Excel version there too.