A common question I receive from people interested in my real estate, mortgage and insurance customer newsletters is whether they can send them using their own email software rather than the hosted service I offer.
(With a hosted service, you upload your email list to a website, which looks after the design, list management and sending of your email newsletters.)
I strongly believe that anyone serious about sending email newsletters needs to use a professional email service.
Here's what I told someone who asked this very question yesterday:
To answer your question, we only offer a "hosted" email service, which means you need to upload your list to the site.
Let me explain why this is the best way to do it.
The main reason is that you will comply with anti-spam regulations and protect your own email address from being added to spam blacklists.
But there are also several advantages to using a hosted service.
Avoiding spam problems: The U.S. CAN-SPAM regulations state that you need an easy way for people to unsubscribe from your list. A hosted service will provide links on each mail for people to use to unsubscribe - without this you will have to do it yourself. A hosted service will also help to protect you against false accusations of spam; hosted services have a good relationship with ISPs and between them they work to distinguish between erroneous spam allegations and true instances of spam. This will help protect your messages, helping more of them get delivered. And, because you are using a hosted domain to send messages from, your own email address will be protected from ending up on a spam blacklist (and you'll also avoid complaints from your own ISP for sending out bulk emails using your account).
Easier to design: Sending HTML emails using your own email software isn't as easy as just pasting in an HTML file. One reason is that you will need to host images if you are sending the email yourself - the images will need to be saved to your website, then your email will need to link to these images so that the recipients of your email can see them. A hosted service handles all this for you, and will allow you to add, subtract and move images without having to fuss with HTML code or having to contact your webmaster. A hosted service will also help ensure that your email design appears as it should on everyone's computer. (The thing about sending HTML in email is that, unless you design it very carefully, it doesn't always show up as you expect it to.)
Easier to manage your contacts: Hosted email services provide many tools for managing your contacts. These include flagging bad emails, duplicate emails and bounced emails to ensure your email list is kept clean and to make sure you don't send more than one email to your recipients. Hosted services can also tell you which of your recipients has opened the email and which links within that email they have clicked. This will help improve the content of messages in the future.
Easy way for people to join your list: Hosted services provide sign-up boxes you can place on your website so that people can join your list to receive your newsletter. An important success factor in online marketing is capturing the email addresses of people who visit your website so that you can star building a relationship with them. Hosted services make it easy to do that. (See the home page of my site for an example.)
More emails delivered: It's a fact of life that email newsletters are harder to deliver than they were in the past, mainly due to the quantity of spam and the sensitivity of filters designed to combat that spam. The result is that many genuine emails - particularly if they are designed in HTML - get blocked. Hosted services have a good track record of getting emails delivered because that's their main job - they work very hard at working with every party in the process to distinguish their emails from spam.
Anyway, these are the main reasons why a hosted service is preferable. I have personally been using a hosted service for many years and would never return to sending these kind of emails from my own email account.
I believe that anyone who is serious about email marketing should follow this route.
Please let me know if you have any other questions.
All the best,
So here's a question for anyone involved with email newsletters: do you agree with my analysis? Is there anything missing? Are there any errors? Please leave a comment below.