By Gene Marks @Forbes 1/7/12
In the approximately five years that my company has been using Constant Contact the popular e-mail marketing service has shut me down three times. Three times!
Each time the story is the same. I attempt to send out my monthly e-mail newsletter to the few thousand recipients on my list. I get abruptly refused and am told via a message on the site to contact their audit department. I call their audit department and speak to a gruff but helpful person who…hmmm…coincidentally sounds like a salesperson. I am then subsequently grilled about my list (there are a lot of “info@” and “sales@” e-mail addresses because we sell sales and marketing software and many of the recipients are salespeople who provide these addresses). I am asked about my methodology for collecting names and removing people who opt-out (I have a web form and collect business cards at events which I don’t normally keep). I am given advice for doing this better. And in the end I get a stern warning and my account is released and allowed to carry on its activities. That is, until the next time
And I love it.
No, Constant Contact is not the best e-mail marketing service around. I’m saying this not only as a long time customer but a partner as well. It’s excellent, but there are plenty of other excellent ones available, like MailChimp, JangoMail, Infusionsoft (who today announced a $54 million equity infusion) , Campaigner, VerticalResponse and AWeber. These services offer what you would expect in 2013: a variety of templates to choose from, easy uploading of data, good metrics to track campaign responses, integration with customer relationship management (CRM) applications and affordable pricing. But the most important feature that an e-mail service can provide is e-mail delivery. So when a service like Constant Contact grills its customers about their data collection practices they’re telling the world (and more importantly the internet service providers who have the ability to stop their messages from reaching their servers) that they will not tolerate spam.
That’s their job. And it’s easy to tell if they’re doing the right job. We can see from metric reports and out of office replies that our e-mails are reaching their recipients. And as long as they’re doing this job then we shouldn’t complain. We shouldn’t blame them if our e-mail campaigns don’t provide results. Because if that’s the case then we’re not doing our job.
And what’s our job? Our job is to consistently send excellent e-mails to the right recipients.
That means short and concise messages. No more than three or four items. And information that is useful to the recipients. If you’re a landscaper then your e-mails should be all about landscaping and gardening tips. If you’re an accountant then I want to see financial advice. If you’re in the business of manufacturing corrugated containers then I want to know everything about using these containers as efficiently as possible in my business: buying, storing, configuring, recycling, etc. I don’t want to see sales messages. I don’t want to see lots of splashy graphics. And I definitely don’t want to open a Word attachment. And neither does most spam filters working on your recipients’ servers. I’m going to spend about ten seconds max on your e-mail message so give me as much info as you think I can digest in that time. (continue @NewsCred)