comparing email newsletter tools

Growing and keeping relationships via email newsletters is probably the most efficient way for a company or non-profit organization to stay connected to its potential & existing constituents. (Also called an “email blasts” or “bulk email marketing campaigns”.)

Instead of spending beaucoup dollars for custom-built solutions, you can use a web-based email newsletter service. Basic essentials I’d look for: (1) easy import and export your email list, (2) user-managed subscribe/unsubscribe function, (3) easy subscription integration with existing website, (4) reports to track open rates and clicks, (5) send HTML and text versions, (6) responsive tech support.

This list of email newsletter tools below are those that I’ve found with pricing structure openly available, with varying feature sets and functionality. I’m not sure if all of them meet my recommended essentials. Descriptions provided are my first impressions without having used any of the tools personally.

  • CampaignMonitor
    Email newsletter software for web designers. Affiliated MailBuild empowers developers to serve clients. Very simple rates: each email campaign is charged $5 plus 1 cent per email recipient. Based in Australia. Pros: simple price structure. scheduled email delivery. Cons: have to be comfortable with technical terminology.
  • CoolerEmail
    CoolerEmail “powers” fully managed HTML email campaigns as well as do-it-yourself HTML email blasts. Certified CoolerEmail Consultants can be hired to help with almost any aspect of an email campaign. Rates from $19.95/mo for 250 sends, $39.95/mo for 1000 sends, $59.95/mo for 5000 sends, and more. Cons: Free phone and email support for 1st 30 days only with more costly plans.
  • ConstantContact
    Designed for non-techies to use. Big list of user-friendly features, since they have over 100,000 customers. Choose from lots of pre-made templates for HTML emails. Free 60-day trial. Send unlimited emails every month. Rates from $15/mo for 500 subscribers, up to $150/mo for 25,000 subscribers. Pros: discount for prepay, discount for nonprofit. Unlimited free phone, chat and email support. User community. Emails are sent with recognizable SafeUnsubscribe™ link.
  • Emma
    Over 5,000 customers. Rates from $30/mo for 1,000 sends, $125 for 10,000 sends, and more. Setup fee from $250. 20% Nonprofit discount. Pros: Stylish! Custom designed templates. More transparent; personal voice. Cons: setup cost.
  • EzineDirector
    This one is particularly international friendly. Guided tour with audio. Over 2,000 customers internationally. Free version for up to 249 subscribers or emails per month. Rates are $9.75/mo for 1999 subscribers, or $19.50/mo for up to 19,499 emails, with additional rate per email for overage. No contract, no setup fee. Pros: toll-free phone and email tech support.
  • IntelliContact
    Looks like a smartly integrated feature set, including surveys and RSS feeds in addition to the usual email newsletters. Rates start at $9.95/mo for 500 subscribers, $29/mo for 2,500 subscribers, $74/mo for 10,000 subscribers. 20% discount for nonprofits. Over 9,000 customers worldwide. Pros: public newsletter archive. full range of tech support. library of best practices and resources.
  • JangoMail
    Very robust feature set. 1,200 customers. Real-time database connectivity. Rates start from $50/mo for 2500 emails, up to $400 for 30,000 emails, and more. $500 setup fee. Pros: email attachments. target emails based on interest. 24 hour emergency support. 100% branding control.
  • ListBox
    Beautiful Web 2.0 looking user interface. Discussion forum available for email list subscribers. Feature to schedule email for later delivery. Rates start from $10/mo for 500 subscribers, $25/mo for 5,000 subscribers, or more. Free trial for up to 50 subscribers. Pros: ability to send email from your email client software, like Outlook.
  • ListCast
    Simple and clean user interface. Targeted emails based on interest settings. Free version lets you try it with 200 subscribers. Rates from $19.95/mo for 10k sends, up to $79.95/mo for 100k sends. Pros: unlimited number of subscribers, sliding scale, no contract. Cons: kinda covert on who they are – no phone number listed, no company location or background. Tech support process unknown. Question: looks very similar to MailerMailer.
  • MailChimp
    Great for web designers, or as they say, email marketing for do-it-yourselfers. 15% nonprofit discount. Rates based on email credits, e.g. $15 for 500 credits; $250 for 25,000 credits. 1 credit = 1 email send. Pros: No monthly fees. Hip attitude comes through. Great blog with latest tips on email marketing. Knowledge base in addition to phone and web tech support. Cons: credits costly for small volumes.
  • MailerMailer
    Simple and clean user interface. Targeted emails based on interest settings. Quick tour and tutorials. Free version lets you try it with 200 subscribers. Rates from $19.95/mo for 10k sends, $79.95/mo for 100k sends, $349.95/mo for 500k sends. Pros: unlimited number of subscribers, sliding scale, no contract. Tech support by web or phone.
  • MyMailout.com
    Simplified user interface with less clutter. Rates begin at $19.95/mo for 1,000 sends, $39.95/mo for 3,000 sends, and $59.95/mo for 10,000 sends. Based in Canada.
  • MyNewsletterBuilder
    Provides web-based interface for sending out opt-in email newsletters. Has additional services like custom design and web marketing. Free 60 day trial. Rates start at $10/mo for 100 sends, $40/mo for 5,000 sends, $70/mo for 10,000 sends, and more. Pros: phone, email, and live chat support.
  • ResultsMail
    “Direct email marketing software that auto senses the recipient’s email software to provide either html email or a plain text message ensuring that your email marketing campaign is read.” Free 15 day trial. Rates start at $25/mo for 1000 sends, $50/mo for 5000 sends, $75/mo for 10,000 sends, and more. Cons: Seems that tech support is by email only. Not much company info or history.
  • StreamSend
    Appears to be a professional email marketing service, a part of a larger internet services company. Feature to survey subscribers for additional profile info. Offers reseller service. Rates of $9.95/mo for 2,000 sends, $19.95/mo for 10,000 sends, and more. Free 30-day trial for up to 200 sends. Tech support via web-based ticketing and knowledge base.
  • VerticalResponse
    Tons of features; run by a big professional company. Has extras like postcard marketing. More than 25,000 customers. Free test drive let’s you send 500 emails. Rates based on a sliding scale for each email sent: $0.015 per email up to 1,000 (so it’s $15 for 1000 sends, $32.50 for 2500 sends, etc.). Pros: all kinds of extra services and robust customer support. Their CEO blogs.
  • YourMailingListProvider
    Basic website seems a bit too sparse. Uses double opt-in. Rates from $5/mo for 2500 sends, $10/mo for 7500 sends, and more. Free version available – up to 1000 sends per month and/or 1000 subscribers. Based in Belgium.
  • ZebraTracks (also known as MailWorkZ )
    Manages email newsletters, but also has online survey and event invitation/ RSVP functions. Free version up to 300 sends for free. Rates from $5.95/mo for 500 sends, $9.95/mo for 2000 sends, $18.95/mo for 10000 sends, and more. Based in Canada. Tech support via toll free phone or email.

Alternatively, you could run your own servers to send out email newsletters. Why? MailEnable is one of many companies that has the software to do this (cf. LSoft is one of the oldest, they built ListServ® back in 1986); here are the main reasons, as suggested by MailEnable (this link also explains technical requirements):

  • If you have a large number of users
  • If you communicate sensitive or confidential data
  • If you have onsite I.T. staff/expertise
  • If you need to control costs
  • If you need to integrate with other software

If you’ve had experience with at least 2 of these, and you’ve had to switch, be sure to add a comment on what works well for you and why you switched.

[update 4/21/07] WriteSendTrack.com is another web-based email marketing tool, with self-reported higher deliverability rate; MarketingProfs.com had good discussion thread reviewing and comparing CheetahMail, DoubleClick, EmailLabs, EMMA Email Marketing, Mansell Group, Responsys, SilverPop, Vertical Response, Constant Contact, Eloqua.

[update 2/13/08] Just found AWeber, an email autoresponder & newsletter service with unlimited newsletters for up to 10,000 subscribers for $19.95/month – discount for multi-month payments.

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8 Responses

  1. Roy says:

    At our church we just began using IntelliContact. We have had no previous experience with any other web-based email service. The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (cor.org) is also using IntelliContact and is what lead us to give it a try. So far we have found it to be an excellent service.

  2. Tim Bednar says:

    I feel the best is Group Mail

    http://www.group-mail.com

    which I use in concert with Group-Metrics

    http://www.group-metrics.com/

    After several years, I still use the free version.

  3. Saeed says:

    I tried Zebratracks and the service has been very good to us. I am using the 1000 email package for $4.95/month.

  4. Steve McKenna says:

    I really like Boomerang Email Marketing Solutions. Easy to use, inexpensive, great features, and awesome support. Those were my criteria, and Boomerang delivers it. They allow you to test their service by getting a free account and playing with all the features and even sending 100 free “live” emails. Enjoy!

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