There are lots of tools and services available with which to create email newsletters. This is a review of one of them, Constant Contact, a web-based email newsletter service.
I’ve been using it for a number of months to create an HTML email newsletter and I have been very pleased with the ease of use of the software and its level of functionality.
Wizard-based Newsletter Creation
You create your newsletter via a wizard which takes you through the steps involved. They have a number of default templates to start from – I picked one and customized it slightly, and we have been using it ever since.
The software is very flexible in terms of the way you create your newsletter. You can miss steps, go back and forth and save your work and come back to it at any point.
At every step you can preview your newsletter, and even email yourself a test version.
Create HTML and Text Newsletters
A nice feature is that although the software is designed to create nicely designed html email newsletters, it also creates a text-based version at the same time as well, which you can review and correct independently.
Depending on the email client of your subscriber, they will automatically be sent the html version or the text version, which reduces the amount of worry about your newsletters not being readable by all.
If you know html, you can also dive into the advanced editor and edit the code itself.
The service comes with some nice reporting features – number of bounces (and who), opens, click throughs, etc. It’s very easy to quickly see how effective your newsletter has been.
For example, you might send out two slightly different versions of a newsletter to different subsets of your audience to see the difference in opens and click throughs. This is a great way to test out different headlines and positioning of articles/adverts.
It’s also easy to add a sign-up form to your web site so that you can start building your subscriber base. The only downside I’ve come across so far is that management of subscribers and lists could be a little more intuitive.
The service is also very reasonably priced. Plus, you can try it out free for 60 days. As far as competitors as concerned, I know that Topica is supposed to be good.
I meant to check them out myself, but have been sufficiently happy with Constant Contact that I haven’t bothered. I guess that says a lot in itself.