Choosing An Email List Management Solution

Copyright Marty Foley, ProfitInfo.com

If you do business through permission based email marketing, your list management solution can be a powerful asset for making money online.

Or it can cripple your sales, reduce your credibility with your lists, cause a lot of wasted time and frustration, and worse. The one you select will have a big impact on the quality of your results.

You have three types of list management solutions to choose from:

1) Desktop software: Installed on your own computer, with emails sent through your ISP.

2) Self-hosted list management: A “stand-alone” script or software is installed on your own web server.

3) List hosting services: All areas of list management are outsourced.

Let’s look at some pro’s and con’s of these options.

Email deliverability problems.

Deliverability is a crucial component of successful email marketing. Obviously, subscribers who don’t receive your emails can’t act on them. Problem is, sending mass emails without professional systems and expertise can hurt email delivery rates, in multiple ways.

To maintain higher delivery rates, you should work with major ISPs and blacklists to stay “whitelisted” and keep your messages from being blocked (”blacklisted”). And list management systems should be designed and updated in line with current legislation and technological advances related to email delivery.

With do-it-yourself list management solutions, you have to deal with all deliverability problems and updates in-house.

Dealing with spam complaints.

Even if all your lists are confirmed (double) opt-in, occasional spam complaints can occur.

When you manage your own lists, dealing with spam complaints falls on you, even if only to prove they’re false. With outsourced list hosting services, professionals can handle these sensitive issues on your behalf.

Bounce management.

Over time, a percentage of email addresses become undeliverable as users move, change ISPs, etc. Some stats indicate “churn rates” of about 25-35% per year. Unfortunately, some list management solutions are not configured to manage bounced emails properly, such as by removing hard bounces immediately and soft bounces after a few failed delivery attempts.

Since email systems of ISPs and other networks can block mailings from emailers who send too many bounces (as spammers typically do), improper bounce management only makes deliverability problems worse.

Other drawbacks include extra load on mail servers and increased bandwidth usage.

Server compatibility problems.

Server-side software compatibility problems may not become apparent until long after installation. In some cases, for proper compatibility you may be forced to spend more for a different web hosting service.

Problems with ISPs and web hosts.

Some web hosts will shut your web site down and/or fine you for spam complaints triggered by emails sent from your domains on their servers. They’re understandably just trying to protect their business.

The use of desktop software to send mass emails is not allowed by many ISPs. You risk Internet access cancellation if detected.

Hidden costs.

Although do-it-yourself list management software or scripts may only require a one-time purchase, be alert to other possible hidden, and potentially recurring, costs:

1) Software installation fees.

2) Upgrade fees.

3) Decreased productivity from extra time spent to manage lists in-house.

4) Reduced profit caused by deliverability problems.

So be wary of “one-time investment” claims, which can be more expensive than you might think.

The Seeming “Advantages” of Do-It-Yourself List Management

At first glance, the seeming advantages of do-it-yourself list management are appealing: No recurring fees, more control over your email lists, and operations are kept in-house.

The frustrating, time-consuming, and costly problems described above make a pretty clear argument against do-it-yourself list management. Fortunately, those same problems can be reduced or eliminated by outsourcing your list management to competent, knowledgeable professionals.

What’s more, outsourcing your list management can free up more time for you to work ON your business, rather than IN your business.

Aside from the above points, let me say from real-world, “school of hard knocks” experience that do-it-yourself is not the best list management option for a professionally run online business. It took me a while to learn that lesson.

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