Choosing your Email Communications Platform

Instead of spending your time and money on creating print marketing campaigns you can now combine your social networking marketing efforts with effective email campaigns. But where should you start?

Choosing the email marketing service that will best suit your organisations needs is an integral part of a successful email marketing journey as it is about so much more than just sending out dozens of emails. Email marketing allows you to integrate with social media and the mobile world of SMS’ as well as create and track personalised content being sent out to your subscribers.

Here are some aspects to consider while choosing:

  • Creating the campaign should be easy regardless of your skill set
  • How in depth is the reporting and will you be able to track the up’s and downs of your campaign easily
  • The service you choose should provide the tools and explanations necessary to help you easily create an effective campaign.
  • A good email service should provide you will A-grade support features such as tutorials, guides, FAQ’s and easily contactable help options.
  • Does it provide you with a range of features you can use to optimise your campaigns, such as automated emails, segmented lists etc.

This article provides a breakdown of some email marketing services that you can consider, namely GraphicMail, MailChimp and Everlytic

GraphicMail

GraphicMail offers email, mobile, and social marketing solutions to small businesses and corporate with marketing communication needs. They describe themselves as an online self-service email and mobile marketing provider.

Features

Creating the Newsletter

GraphicMail offers basic features which are available across all types of accounts including the free marketing account.

  1. Create your own template with our drag-and-drop editor
  2. Choose a free template and modify it in minutes in the GraphicMail Editor
  3. Import your newsletter from Dreamweaver (zip HTML and images) or Word
  4. Upload a web page and send it as your newsletter

You don’t need any design or programming experience to set up a newsletter with GraphicMail. The quick and easy template structure will allow you to create your own template or modify existing templates. If you’re like me and don’t know much about HTML and the like, you can import your newsletter from word or a design platform like Dreamweaver or Frontpage. Whatever you create can be tested with the autoresponder tool. Send and receive test emails before sending out your actual newsletter or starting an email campaign.

The “subscribe now” or “forward-to-a-friend” links can be added to your newsletter to grow your mailing list virally. GraphicMail allows you to customise your footer to represent your brand or choose from GraphicMail logos.  You can also upload, store, manage and insert hundreds of images easy using your GM account.

Another practical basic feature included is the free templates and eflyers. Efyers are promotional templates that can be used to let people in on your latest sale or new service. They can be customized to suit your needs in the same way the templates can. If you qualify for the non profit package you will be given an extra low pricing offer and free non-profit templates to use with your fundraising and communications campaign.

Building and Managing Email Lists

The "Lists and "Contacts" features simplifies GraphicMailers' contact management. Its virtual address book makes it very easy to add, manage and detail individual subscribers' email addresses, or entire lists. The subscription form grows your email lists and collects relevant visitor data. It is fully customizable and you can easily embed it on your site. GraphicMail lets you add multiple lists, segmented into customer interests, making your campaign targeted and personalized. The social subscription tool allows visitors to subscribe via their social network, increasing your newsletter subscriptions.

GraphicMail encourages its users to use permission based marketing. For example: when someone subscribes to your newsletter they will receive a generic email asking them to confirm their subscription. This is one of the ways GraphicMail counteracts spam.

Here are some other useful features:

  • Create and add a sign up form
  • Customize subscription form
  • Manage Subscriber profiles
  • Choose the way recipients unsubscribe
  • Manage your contact and blocked contact lists efficiently.

Your Campaign: Sending & Delivery

GraphicMail makes it possible for you to send your email campaigns anytime, from anywhere. You are able to schedule sending times in 15 minute time slots, 24/7, set at a fraction of the time of other more traditional forms of direct marketing. You can also choose to automate a range of follow-up emails, based on different actions recipients take on your sends. GraphicMail offers advanced tools to help ensure your campaigns are delivered such as:

  • Supports a variety of email formats and changes according to clients preferences
  • Ensures that your email addresses and clients details are secure
  • Secure services ensure the reliability of your messages being delivered timely and at any time
  • A dedicated team on hand assuring that all messages are delivered
  • SPAM Score: allows you to check how likely it is that your messages are being reported as spam

Campaign Tracking and Learning from Reports

Campaign reports give you precise email Reports and graphs for each newsletter sends. You will receive a graphical high-level view of your email campaign's performance. Examine your open, click-through and unsubscribe rates right down to the individual client and how they responded to a given campaign. GraphicMail allows you to refine and modify your future campaigns using these tools:

  • Free comprehensive activity detailing opened, click-through and unsubscribe reports
  • Reports detailing statistics relating to how recipients responded to a given campaign
  • Monitor how many recipients clicked on your links right down to the individual and what they clicked on
  • Track what was delivered as well as reasons for emails not being delivered e.g Full inbox
  • Complaints reports and Bounce Rates

More advanced features include

  • Mobile Campaigns (Mobile sites and SMS Marketing)
  • Email Automation: Schedule sends, streamline your campaigns
  • Combine email with social media with social media sharing
  • Integrate with Google Analytics
  • Content creation with the advanced editor

Pricing

To get an idea of how much you’ll pay for GraphicMail services per month use the slider for monthly emails you expect to send or alternatively how many contacts you expect to be emailing once every day. Don’t forget to take into account how much growth you foresee for your campaigns.

 

 

Free For Non Profit Organisations

GraphicMail offers registered non-profit organisations with free email marketing services to keep in contact with their donors and members. All you need to do is fill out the form on the website and if you qualify as a non-profit you will be able to:

  • Send up to 10,000 email a month with our Non-Profit members program at no charge.
  • More than 10 000 emails per month is charged at 20% off the published price of R209.95

If you aren’t ready to engage in a monthly contract you can opt for the pay-as-you go plan which allows you to buy email sending credits as you need them. However it is recommended that you opt for a monthly plan as it is more cost effective.

 

 

Free Email Marketing Account

Alternatively, you can start off with the free email marketing plan that allows you to store up to 500 contacts and send up to 5 000 emails per month.

This account includes:

  • Editor to create, test and send email campaigns
  • 100 free templates
  • Email support
  • 1mb of storage space
  • A maximum of 5 mailing lists (No deleting or Segmentation possible)
  • Reports and Analytics

It does not include:

  • Chat or telephone support
  • Publishing of your newsletter on social networks
  • Autoresponder and triggered emails
  • All advanced features

Pros and Cons

Apart from having a cluttered interface, GraphicMail is reported as being a good marketing option for small and large business alike. It might be more difficult to learn because its dashboard displays many options making it harder to find what you’re looking for quickly, but it offers sophisticated tools that allow you to send, create email marketing campaigns. It even allows you to captivate mobile phone users with mini – website creation capabilities. Help is just a click away with GraphicMail as it provides you with a range of customer support options including: a user manual, FAQs, help documentation, text and video tutorials, and webinars. You can also contact the company via email, phone, live chat or visit their Cape Town offices.

MailChimp

MailChimp is a progressive email newsletter client, famous for its ability to combine sleek professional features with a cheeky and humorous interface. Here’s a breakdown of some of the basic tools they offer:

Social Sharing

MailChimp makes it easy to share your email across social networks with one click in your campaign dashboard. You can connect MailChimp to your Twitter and Facebook accounts to automatically post your campaigns on those networks, or place Tweet, Like, and other social buttons in your campaigns to let your readers share the love. You can also track who likes your content and allow them to share your content with friends. Adding a subscription form to your account is also quick and easy.

Mobile Hub

Unlike most email clients MailChimp offers downloadable apps such as “gather” to assist you in managing your campaigns and list even when you aren’t online. It allows you to text your subscribers about even details and keeps them update on what’s cracking in your campaign. These apps are only available for Android and IOS users.

Campaign Creation

Similar to GraphicMail, MailChimp users a drag and drop editor to create your campaigns. You do not need any coding or design experience as all features are provided for you on the dashboard as well as customizable templates. You can create a personalised campaign using “merge tags”. These allow you to do things like add the recipient’s name to an email or a particular characteristic they may have like a location.

Here’s an example of the kind of campaign templates offered:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delivery

MailChimp offers autoresponder as a paid feature to its clients. The autoresponder feature allows you to send out automated emails to your subscribers. You can use this in combination with other features in order to enrich the reader’s experience.

You definitely don’t want your emails to be sent to the spam folder right? Another paid feature at the MailChimp client’s disposal is the “Delivery Doctor”. This feature will tell you the root cause of your email being marked as spam before it gets sent out allowing you time to change and improve your campaign. Like GraphicMail, MailChimp ensures the delivery of your email using authentication methods bounce management to track and analyze the rates of your campaigns.

Reporting and Analysis

MailChimp collects and analyzes your data and provides excellent visual representations of that data in various formats. You can use A/B testing by choosing the test you’d like to run and the size of your sample group. MailChimp will perform the tests and tell you which campaign performed best.

Tracking and analyzing your data is made simple with the following formats:

Interactive Graphs – These MailChimp graphs represent the customer interaction with the email campaigns you have sent out. You can view subscriber activity, social stats, click performance and advanced reports, or view an overview of all information.

Open and Click Tracking – The HTML5 chart by MailChimp enables you to see your subscriber growth. You can highlight specific periods, zoom in or redraw the chart to display different information.

Opens and Clicks Over Time – If you are pondering when to send MailChimp email campaigns to your customers, you may want to consult this chart first, as it will show you the number of subscribers who read your emails and at what time they read them.

Opens By Location – Where in the world are your subscribers? See for yourself with this geographic chart by MailChimp.

Subscriber Activity Reports – This MailChimp chart may be the one you glance at the most, as you can dig deep into the collected data in real time. You can see who received the email, when they opened it, the exact links they clicked on, who bounced the email or who didn't open it. If your emails bounced, MailChimp automatically determines which subscribers to resend the email to and which subscribers should just be permanently deleted from your contact list.

Click Maps – This is our favorite analytical graph that you can access from MailChimp. You are able to see the email or newsletter that you sent out to your subscribers in its entirety, but there is a clickmap overlay so that you can see which links your subscribers click the most.

Campaign Reach – This chart from MailChimp is simple, but effective. You are able to see the total number of your email marketing campaigns that your customers have opened, your potential customer reach and the number of views your campaign link got on Twitter and Facebook. You will also see the number of retweets and likes the campaign received.

eCommerce – If you run an eCommerce business, MailChimp's email marketing service can track your sales from the first URL click in your email campaign all the way to purchase. Pretty awesome.

Analytics – MailChimp's Analytics360 module enables you to set goals and see your progression. This report also shows you the revenue your campaign has created and the return on investment.

Pricing

The Forever Free Plan offered by MailChimp is a great asset for small business owners, non-profits, or other groups that are just getting started and have a limited marketing budget.

Under the Forever Free Plan:

  • You’ll be able to send up to 12,000 emails per month if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers
  • No contract required; you don’t even have to provide a credit card.
  • Does not include autoresponder and other advanced features such as Spam Filter diagnostics or the delivery doctor, email client testing and delivery by timezone.

For a paid account you can use the monthly calculator to determine what package would best suit you. Your credit card will be billed every month, based on the total number of subscribers in your account, and your monthly fee will automatically be adjusted as your list grows or shrinks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alternatively, you can choose from a pay as you go plan or one of MailChimp’s high volume plans. The pay as you go plan allows you to buy email credits, starting at R93.60 for 300 credits, as you need it other than squeezing out value from a monthly plan that does not fit your needs.

If you have more than 50 000 subscribers it is recommended that you choose a high volume monthly plan or request a quote. However, if you have a big list but send fewer than 4 times a month, the High Volume CMP plan would be better suited to you.

To ask for a quote or get more details about MailChimp’s pricing check out this link.

Pro’s and Con’s

There’s a lot to like about MailChimp. Firstly, the Forever free plan is beneficial to non-profit organisations who do not have high campaign demands. Secondly, MailChimp provides some great resources to help you minimize the learning curve and get you on your way to creating effective, dynamic campaigns. Some of these resources include helpful videos to get you familiar with their interface, and several free eBooks that provide practical advice about getting the most out of your email marketing campaign. MailChimp Guides can also be extremely useful, as they cover topics like transactional emails, mobile devices, managing lists, getting started, and many other extremely relevant email marketing topics. Along with this, MailChimp’s analyses and reporting tools are easy to read and understand and it also offers useful IOS and Android apps that act like a shortcut to your MailChimp account.

However, it isn’t all good, some reported MailChimp problems includes

  • The pricing structure,
  • Limited data importing capabilities,
  • The fact that they have no phone support or 24 hour support.
  • The humorous quirks and funny youtube video pop-ups can become distracting and be perceived as less than professional

Everlytic

Everlytic allows you to create and send smart email campaigns as well as share content via email, mobile and social media. It also has measuring, tracking and integration capabilities and is reported as one of South Africa’s leading email communications companies.

Features

Creating Email Campaigns

Like MailChimp and GraphicMail, Everlytic comes with easily customisable templates as well as editing and importing features. It also takes you one step closer to your clients by personalising your campaigns based on your subscriber’s information. Geo-location mapping shows you which countries are opening your emails the most, giving you the ability to improve or target your campaigns based on the region. You can also schedule your campaigns so you can have your emails flying out like clockwork.

Building a SMS Campaign

Everlytic makes engaging with clients via SMS as easy as typing the text, choosing subscribers and pressing send! Along with this you can:

  • Personalise SMS campaigns using subscriber information
  • Target specific demographics
  • Schedule SMS’ to send automatically
  • Have clients who unsubscribe handled automatically
  • Capture all replies and feedback

Social Sharing

Social integration allows you to publish your content and let people know what you’re up to through a variety of social networks of your choosing. Add a share, forward or like button to your campaigns to reach a bigger audience and allow your subscribers list to expand. You can also reach your audience by adding a subscription form onto your social media platforms. Measure the success of your social campaigns by seeing how many views your messages get and where your content was shared by subscribers. You will also be able to see which social network platform gave you the most exposure.

Analytics

Everlytic makes it possible to track anything and everything going on with your campaigns and interactions through a variety of reports:

  • Recipient Engagement
  • Segmentation Reports
  • Geo-location Reports
  • SMS message Reporting
  • Device reporting
  • Track forwards and Updates
  • Heat Map reports e.g. which links performed best 
    e.g. Device Reporting
 

 

Building Your Brand and Integration

Modify the interface to reflect your company’s personality without having to mention Everlytic to your customers. The platform itself is built to scale to any number of clients from one single account. Everlytic allows you to set your own rates and have your profits collected automatically.

Integration with a range of social media as well as Google Analytics will allow you to expand and track your way through the campaign process.

Pricing

Everlytic has a range of options to suit the budget of anyone with an email communication need. The monthly plan is reported as being the most affordable in terms of frequent senders:

However, infrequent senders can opt for the pay as you go plan as you only pay for what you use and credits do not expire. This starts at R199 for 1000 credits at 19.90 cents per email. SMS credits are available starting from R140 for 500 credits. These expire in 12 months at 28c per SMS.

Transactional Mail allows you to send one to one emails triggered from apps to send statements, invoices, notifications, reminders, password resets, and more

Everlytic offers any non profit organisation in South Africa a free Everlytic account to help NGO’sraise awareness for their cause and improve communications. The free account includes:

  • The ability to send emails to up to 5000 subscribers
  • Preloaded newsletter, announcement and event email templates specifically designed for NGO’s
  • Free basic and advanced training
  • Discounted prices on SMS service should you opt to use it (20c per sms)
  • Detailed reports to track your progress

Should you need to send to more than 5000 subscribers, these are the discounted prices available to you:

 

Pros and Cons

As Everlytic is one of the leading email communication platforms in South Africa there’s not much bad one can say about it. It has a range of support videos and guides to help you along your way. There is also various ways to contact them, phone, email, web form and even snail mail. They also offer a range of solutions for NGO’s, bigger business and schools to name a few. A plus for a non-profit organisation is that it has a feature which requires the Director to approve the messages being sent out before it’s sent to the entire list. Everlytic is easily contactable as they have offices based in Johannesburg as well as Cape Town. 

Summary

e-Newsletters

An organisational newsletter can be a valuable tool for communicating with your stakeholders, and an e-Newsletter has the advantage of being free and relatively easy to put together and easy to send to thousands of subscribers all over the world. With so many different newsletter services to choose from, and new laws governing collection of email addresses and spam, the world of online newsletters is more complex than it may seem.