(If you are just arriving at this post, I recommend you check out my post from November suggesting that youset up a customer mailing list, and my post immediately following this one,You Should Have an Email Marketing List.)
This is a comparison of a 16 online email marketing services. With a little help, I dug up as many email bulk senders as I could, so that I could compare their prices. It’s hard to compare these prices because their ranges never quite match, so I decided that putting them into a table form would be the best way to get an overview of the prices.
Nearly all of these services charge you a monthly fee, with a few offering discounts for annual or semi-annual plans. But there are two very different pricing models, which has caused me to break this down into two tables.
Note: These prices are current as of mid-January 2010. They will probably change! Be sure to verify prices by visiting the websites.
The first pricing model is per-subscriber. No matter how many emails per month you send out, you will be charged a fee based on the number of subscribers in your list. This means that if you only send a newsletter out from time to time, you may not be getting a good deal. If you send messages out frequently, then these can actually be quite nice.
5 $5 per mailing plus 1¢ per message, with bulk credits reducing cost at higher levels
6 Price is in British Pounds, converted to dollars for comparisions. Exchange rates will change!
7 30 day trial
So what does this all mean?
First of all, you have to decide what kind of camp you are in. I think that it’s almost useless having a customer list if you don’t actually contact your members less than, say, once every month or two. Any more than that, and they are going to forget about you! If you are not going to be using your list that often, then paying a monthly fee based on number of subscribers doesn’t make a lot of sense. If you are going to send more than once a month, which is perfectly acceptable in some cases, then the monthly plans are better to look at.
Once you have picked a payment type — subscriber-based or mailing-based, you should think about what size of a list you have — and hope to have. The costs of sending out a mailing seem minimal if you are just getting started with a list. A small list is probably quite feasible if you have just a local business or organization, but I can guarantee you that if you have a fairly successful Mac software title, you can easily get your mailing list (of customers but also prospects) into the tens of thousands. So you should consider that a monthly mailing is going to eventually cost you several hundred dollars per month — and several thousand dollars per year, for almost all your possible choices here. (Yikes!)
And how are you going to choose among so many? A good question. That’s where asking around, looking at the company websites, paying attention to the bulk messages you tend to get already, and so forth, can be quite handy.
If these choices seem a bit pricey for larger customer lists, please realize that there are other options out there! You can use your own software to send out the mailings. There are, I’ve found, a bunch of Windows-based applications, and a few Mac-based applications for bulk mailings. I haven’t looked at the Windows software, and the Mac software I surveyed a while ago didn’t impress me. (Plus, desktop-based software doesn’t really seem to work well with the idea of people being able to manage their subscriptions over the web.) There are a number of commercial, server-based bulk mailer software packages, but that’s beyond the scope of this article. What I will point out is PHPList. which is a free, open-source bulk email manager, that hooks up to a MySQL database. I think that if you have your own server and the capability of doing a bit of installation and administration, as many indie developers do, and if it is not a shared hosting setup, then it shouldn’t be too hard to install this and use it for your own newsletters.
Otherwise, I hope that the links and prices on these charts are helpful for helping you decide upon a hosted bulk email service.
Jan 21, 2010, 11:23 PM