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Email Newsletter Distributors

Ann Wylie

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Here are the answers to my question: What vendor do you use to distribute your email newsletter? Are you happy? Can you tell me how much they charge, etc.? Were your previous subscribers grandfathered in, or did you have to have everyone re-subscribe? Are they good at sending you your personal email responses to the newsletter? Any concerns about losing your database of subscribers?

-- Joan Stewart

Sparklist: (800) 485-9994

Fee: $50 a month to send 10,300 subscribers a weekly newsletter. They charge according to how much you use it. Double that amount if I want to be able to track click-throughs.

Previous subscribers: I started with Sparklist so this was not an issue. My friend, who had a list of 12,000, switched to another company that made her force her subscribers to resubscribe and she lost 4,000 readers! Try to choose a vendor that won't make you do this.

Personal responses: All email comes directly to me, and doesn't come through Sparklist. There's no reason that should be an issue.

Concerns about losing your database: There's always that concern. So back up your list onto an external hard drive, or a CD or whatever, weekly.

Handling subscribes/unsubscribes: Readers can unsubscribe themselves using a link at the bottom of the newsletter. If they don't unsubscribe themselves that way and they want me to do it, I do it on this end. Same thing with subscribes. You will never, ever be able to get away from the manual subscribes/unsubscribes, nor would you want to. Subscribing and unsubscribing people manually is just good customer service. Besides, if someone emails you and says "take me off your list!" you'd better do it, pronto, or risk them reporting you as a spammer to your ISP. And from there, things can really get ugly. Never make them go through the hassle of unsubscribing themselves.

Tracking readers: As for tracking how many live people get your newsletter and how many actually open it, you can track those statistics with a premium version offered by Sparklist and many other list management companies. Just tell them you want the level of service that lets you track delivery and open rates.

Other comments: Their phone support is good.

Resources: Marketing Sherpa has a very expensive but excellent special report on email vendors. I bought the first one which came out about a year ago. They take 20 top vendors and compare them according to what you need and what services they offer. Go the Marketing Sherpa Web site and you should find it right on the homepage.

-- Rebecca Morgan

Aweber, Topica or Constant Contact have all been recommended in SNN. Your shopping cart should also have a mail list capability.

-- Laurel Barton

I have been using Cooler email (www.cooleremail.com) for two years for the newsletter for a large business association. They send out over 4000 monthly, plus use "Cooler" for calendar, special announcements to members, etc. The list management feature is terrific and meets requirements of spam filters, for the most part. They are very well respected and "clean." You can create a very nice looking HTML formatted document. Responses need to go to a valid address that you monitor. You can upload your current list and ask readers to update their subscription any time. You can take a "free test drive" on their Web site.

-- Scott Stratten

I use www.ezezine.com. At the moment you can just add your existing list in, it's cheap (starts at $0 and goes to $49 a month depending on volume). And they are quick at returning emails. I've gotten to know the owner very well and she is awesome. Also, they're not blacklisted on some servers like Constant Contact.

-- Ann Ulrich

I highly recommend Databack (www.databack.com) and Byron Lunz. Byron's email responses to your questions seem almost *instant messaging* at times. He is VERY responsive, the good old-fashioned customer service that's hard to find these days. He will answer any questions you have as you are exploring options.

Fee: I pay $25/month, can send unlimited emails, includes automated sign-up and cancellation, is a double opt-in system (automatically sends confirmation required to complete sign-up.) As a non-techy, I so appreciate the VERY simple and easy to use process of setting up and posting an email to your list, as often as you'd like for no extra fees.

Database transfer: Byron helped me transfer my database, ask him about the best way of handling yours.

Other: One consideration, I prefer to send my ezine in text format and have not used the HTML format options. I highly recommend you send Byron an email, please tell him I sent you, and he'll help you with anything you need.

-- Tom Antion

I use www.Savicom.net. They are relatively inexpensive and just as good as any in today's volatile email atmosphere. I will be moving my email to my own dedicated server just to have more control, but that is considerably more expensive.

Database transfer: Since I've been there several years, I don't know what they make you do with new subscribers, but I don't think there is a problem uploading them without making them resubscribe. They do watch closely if you get lots of complaints.

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions