This is a repost of an article that originally appeared in August, 2010.
As our regular readers and Twitter followers are aware, MKCREATIVE has recently and proudly received ‘Gold Status‘ by the Green Business League. We work with our clients to help them green their companies and organizations as well – and a great way to start that process is to use email blasts to get the word out instead of mass paper mailing campaigns. The development of the e-blast/e-zine from its humble days of the turn of the millennium has meant that we have the opportunity to design visually pleasant and reader interactive emails that can inform and entertain. We can do so without burdening either the non-profit trying to get the word out in as effective and efficient manner or the recipient who can read, click-here, scan and delete, or unsubscribe (not from your group’s email list – we’re just sayin’…).
In the last couple of years a number of e-blast services have arisen and many of them have packages geared toward not-for-profits. The good folks athave written a really helpful white paper about a series of the better known services, what they offer, and for how much. The brief report is definitely worth a look for any group looking to start an email campaign or who want some guidance on how to improve the one they have.
The first set of questions for such a project should be within the organization: What is your email send volume? What is your email list size?, Do you require profile management? (a system for letting subscribers choose which lists they want to be on and update their contact info)? What is your budget for email communications? Do you have someone (or several people) on staff who will manage your email communications effectively? Once such questions are answered internally, Groundwire’s report outlines the services available among such services as MailChimp:
MailChimp has become a very compelling email broadcasting tool over the course of the last year or so. They’ve put a lot of shine and polish on their user interface and offer a few features I haven’t seen anywhere else. This platform is probably one of the easiest to learn and has ranked very high among our staff at Groundwire in terms of the usability. The way the have their platform priced, it seems to be the best fit for low to medium volume senders. I also appreciate how much thought they’ve put into workflow. They’ve done an admirable job of anticipating what configuration options you’re likely to want to set for a given process, and even if you forget a step somewhere you’re always returned to the exact stage in the process where you left off.
And Vertical Response:
For the past few years VerticalResponse has been one of the most popular providers for our client base. The highlights are that VerticalResponse offers 10,000 free email credits for nonprofit or charitable organizations. For many of our clients, this means they can run their email program at no cost. The other big highlight is the Salesforce integration, which is one of the best on the market today. A couple of limitations of VerticalResponse are worth pointing out here. Accounts have only one user, which means you have to share logins with each other to share access to the same account. Also, all unsubscribes are treated as global, so even if you’re running multiple lists a subscriber will stop receiving all email from you if they unsubscribe.
These two are perhaps the most widely used services among non-profits of various sizes. But the study covers 12 services of varying prices, technologies, and market visibilites.
“Another important consideration is the ease of use of the different platforms. Some assume a certain level of technical expertise and comfort with email broadcasting, while others strive to serve non-technical users. You will want to carefully consider the technical ability of your staff and the amount of time you have allotted for email communication.” Such e-communication can work wonders for your organization, and the entry costs can be quite reasonable, especially with a bit of planning and consultation. The report by Groundwire folks is a good place to start looking at the various services available.