This week I met with nonprofit executive directors in Grand Rapids, MN. We started talking about Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) – and while I don’t usually promote tools you have to pay for here I thought I’d recap the conversation a bit for anyone else who has been thinking about starting or moving an email list. (The service starts at $15 per month – for lists of up to 500 people, I think.)
Why Sent Email?
First email is a great way to reach people. If I had to choose one tool to use online, email would be it. (Unless my target market was young – then I might go with Twitter or another tool to reach folks via text messaging.) It’s one of the few tools you can use to reach out to people rather than creating a message they find.
What is an email tool?
It will save the email addresses of all of your email subscribers. Then you can send emails through their online tool that will go to everyone on your list.
Why use an Email Tool?
Sending individual emails works if you only have a handful of customers. Sending email to too many recipients at a time (more than 10) will get your message caught in a recipient’s spam filter. (Here’s more info on that: https://byteoftheweek.wordpress.com/2006/11/01/email-tips/).
An email tool maintains the list of addresses for you. If an email quits working, it deletes it. You will need to manually update the list if someone changes their address – but you only need to do it in one place
You can segment your list into categories. So if you’re a nonprofit, you might have one list for volunteers, one for people you serve, one for media and one for funders.
You can get statistics on success of email campaigns. You can find out how many people received the message, opened the message, click on a linked, forwarded it to a friend and more.
With many tools (such as Constant Contact) you can create an email it html if you want or if you don’t know html, you can use their wizards and templates to create an attractive message including images and links. (They even have a bunch of stock images you can use.)