If you are trying to build a business online and find that you need some kind of e-mail or auto-responder, then this post may help you in your research.
Right now, as of the writing of this post I don’t have very much need for a paid e-mail responder. In fact, I don’t think I am getting 10 visits a day to my webpage. What I have decided is that I a simple e-mail system just for the purpose of learning how to create one so that when I do get a paid responder I am not wasting my money.
I struggled to find an appropriate free e-mail system. Like I said, my goal was to start with a free offering that I can build and ultimately turn into a paid subscription either with the free service or export the list and find a paid one when the need arose. (positive thinking).
I did my research and it took me a really, long, time, to get the information gathered. Once I had completed my research, I felt that I would share it since it seemed that no one else had ever shared what I had discovered.
The easiest way for me to convey my findings was to create a comparison chart. You can view that chart below.
Here is how I came to my decision and maybe this will help you. First, I wanted to make sure I could always move to another service if necessary so being able to export the list was an important provision.
I first tried Imnica Mail. I signed up and got all the way to creating an opt-in form and found that I could only create a link to a form. I wanted a signup box on the page that people could subscribe to a newsletter without having a separate popup that could potentially be blocked by a popup blocker. I checked to see if Imnica Mail had a WordPress plugin and I did not find any. There might be one but I did not find it.
Sadly, I looked further and examined Listwire. This service was, well, OK but did not have pre-made templates for opt-in or creating an email campaign. Everything had to be made from scratch email, opt-in, etc. At least that was what it looked like. There were a few nice features of Listwire. First, it was always free but there was no upgrade for future growth. The lack of templates only made me imagine spend an entire day just to create an e-mail campaign and I don’t want to spend a huge amount of time creating emails.
Sendfree was another free email. This one had a lot of what I was looking for…export, templates, free service that could later turn to a paid service. The free service was up to 250 subscribers which was ok. I tried to signup. In fact, I tried to signup 4 times. Each time I got a verification email with a link to click on and then was prompted to login. But I could never login. That’s why the services in the comparison chart have “unknown” for many features. I could never login to find out if the feature was available.
That left MailChimp. Which I have heard of many times and is a reputable company. A rumor I read on some forums was that MailChimp would not let you use their service for affiliate marketing. I read the the terms of service and I did not find anything like that. What MailChimp restricts is spamming. If you spam they will close your account.
Now, I don’t like spammers anymore than the next person so I don’t have a problem with the TOS that MailChimp put out.
MailChimp did not have a readily available opt-in form that could be put on a website but they did have a WordPress plugin that had the capabilities of creating a form with some limited editing. I’m good with that.
The final critical question was, can I entrust the safe-keeping and security of my business’s greatest, most important and least replaceable asset (my list) to a company whose business model is that of being a free autoresponder.
I am confident that MailChimp will work for me. After all it worked for Cliff Ravenscraft of Podcast Answer Man. Who used to use MailChimp but has now switched to AWeber. You may want to read his article “Taking Yourself To The Next Level And So Much More!”, which is about why he switched to AWeber from MailChimp.
So, there you go. I am using MailChimp for now.
P.S. One last thought….my BlueHost account includes email with my hosted account. Which is another option.