Now you’ve all heard about Aweber and how it’s supposed to be the bees knees of auto-responders? Well I decided against it because I just couldn’t see the value in it. These guys are so up themselves they won’t even offer a free trial! Instead you have to pay $1 to sign up for the first month and after that the cheapest rate is $19/month and if you have more than 500 subscribers you can expect to pay a lot more, up to $149/month. No wonder people using them have to keep shoving stuff down your throat, if they don’t they’d be losing money.

I sampled several auto-responders, more about them in a future post, and once I was through trialing them I decided that my list would be powered by MailChimp. As long as you don’t have more than 1000 subscribers and you don’t send more than 6000 emails a month your account is absolutely free. That knocks Aweber completely out of the ball park as far as trials goes.

Image via CrunchBase

What I love most about MailChimp is that you still get so much even though it’s a free account. I’ve actually had list members compliment me on the quality of my ‘newsletters’ and it’s all so easy to do because they have a large collections of templates that you can use to design absolutely stunning campaigns. You can even design your own templates.

There are so many features available to you with a free account, some of which include;

  • Multiple Lists: If you want to run more than one campaign targeting different lists then you’ll be happy to know you can do this with MailChimp
  • Good Reporting Features: There are so many reports you can keep track of. You can see who opened the mail, who clicked on what links. Whether or not any got bounced. Who’s unsubscribed. You can even connect it to Google Analytic and check whether a particular campaign has increased your traffic.
  • Connect With Twitter: Not only can you send your campaign to your lists, you can also send it out as a Tweet or via other social networks including FaceBook, Digg, Delicious, Buzz and MySpace. This is a Tweet of my last campaign.
  • Video Tutorials: I love the fact that they have video tutorials that help you to get the most from their site.

As far as I’m concerned these guys offer me all that I need to run a campaign and it’s all for free! If I ever grow my list to the extent that I need to pay for their service then I’m more than happy to do that.

Email Marketing Best PracticesThere was one point that was brought up by Ben Wan who mentioned that their TOS didn’t allow the use of affiliate links in the campaigns. This didn’t bother me all that much as my list was more for informing my subscribers of new posts than it was for promoting affiliates. Still, I could see how this would be important   for others so I decided to email support.

I spoke to a bloke called Edwin and I asked straight out about affiliate links and their TOS. This was his reply.

Hello Peter,

It’s nice to virtually meet you.

In the general sense we can only support affiliate content that is being sent to a list that is current and has been collected through a double optin process.  Also affiliate content can compliment newsletter content but can not be the entire focus of a message itself.

We would have to see an example of your newsletter to be able to say for sure if we could support it or not.

Feel free to email us back if you have specific questions or comments beyond this that we can assist you with.

Regards,
Edwin
MailChimp.com / Client Services

Well, I thought that was entirely reasonable. It’s obvious these guys are as much anti spam as I am, and let’s face it most of those guys that have lists send out so much crap it may as well be spam. These guys want to make sure people don’t give their product a bad name and I can understand that. Anyway, I purposefully put in an affiliate link into the next campaign and emailed him a copy.

He got back to me the next day saying that the example was fine but warning that the word “affiliate” in the content could have some spam filtering issues.  No worries then, that means I had absolutely no reason for not using MailChimp, I could even use affiliates in my campaign as long as I wasn’t a complete ass about it.

So, have you joined my list yet? If not you really should. As a member you will be listed on the My List page. You will never miss out on a post again. I will always try to include a link or two to other members blogs so that they also benefit from my campaigns. As a subscriber you may even learn a thing or two about what makes Sire tick, something that others will not be privy to. :wink_ee:

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