Email campaigns provide a really excellent way for you to connect directly with your church members, organization supporters, customers and clients. At Numinous Productions, we have been assisting organizations with their email campaigns for 8 years, and have witnessed first hand increased sales, increased fundraising, and huge leaps in brand awareness.
Best of all, email marketing is requires a very small financial investment compared with print, radio and television advertising.
And unlike print, radio or television, it is much easier to track your return on investment. Email analytics allow you to see how many people opened your email, clicked on links or blocked your email. This sort of valuable information shows you exactly who your fans are, and who you should avoid wasting your limited funds on.
There are several email campaign applications that we have used and recommend:
Pros: Constant Contact is probably the very best email campaign company we have ever used. Their email builder is intuitive and easy to use and includes lots of powerful, useful features. Their emails generally look good in just about every popular email client. Constant Contact continues to expand their service offerings, and now includes surveys and event registration. They have hundreds of attractive email templates to choose from, meaning your business will look professional without needing to be a designer yourself.
Cons: There are really only two in our experience. If you want the best, you are going to pay for it. Constant Contact is probably the most expensive email campaign company out there (http://www.constantcontact.com/pricing). Secondly, Constant Contact charges clients for image storage space. So if you plan on using lots of photos in your email newsletters, you'll need to fork over more cash, or you'll want to host images on your website.
Bottom Line: Constant Contact is the best email campaign service out there, even with some of its limitations. You are paying for a superior, premium service that will always take care of you, and provide a professional face for your organization.
Pros: Despite its unusual name, MailChimp offers a lot of great features. First off, they have an amazing free plan that works well for many of our clients. Their email builder is a little less intuitive than Constant Contact, but is still relatively easy to use. Clients can even send email newsletters straight from Gmail or Outlook using MailChimp's Email Beamer service if they don't need to build a complex email campaign. MailChimp allows you to store an unlimited number of images on its server, making it easy to add lots of photos to your email campaigns. MailChimp offers lots of control over mailing lists, and allows you to break your email lists up into sections and groups to really target specific demographic types. MailChimp also integrates very well with many other third party platforms, and makes it extremely simple to allow folks to sign up for your newsletter.
Cons: While your email may look great in the designer, when it arrives in your inbox, the look is often less predictable. MailChimp seems to struggle with keeping emails looking pristine in both Outlook and Gmail, two major email applications. Most of the time, these issues are minor, but if you are really interested in stylistic integrity, this could pose a problem for you. In our experience, MailChimp as a whole works well about 90% of the time. We have run into little bugs here and there on a somewhat sporadic basis that can make things a little frustrating.
Bottom Line: MailChimp offers a professional email campaign system for low or no cost, especially for smaller clients. If you want to send out great looking email newsletters without spending a lot of money, MailChimp is a great option.
Pros: AcyMailing is a Joomla newsletter extension. It has an extremely robust free version, and it imposes no sending limits. If you know how to write a Joomla article (which is similar to working in Microsoft Word), then you can create an email campaign. It is convenient for many clients that they can handle their website and their email campaigns from the same location. New users on your Joomla site can be automatically added into different campaign email lists.
Cons: Compared to the relative ease of building email newsletters in Constant Contact and MailChimp, AcyMailing is quite a bit tougher. There is no drag and drop. Containers like rows and columns must be created and arranged manually. The whole interface of AcyMailing is more cluttered and confusing than either of the two options listed above.
Bottom Line: If you would like to use a simple email campaign system that is part of your main website, and don't want to pay a monthly fee for extra features, then this is the email campaign application for you.