When email marketing first started growing in popularity in the late 90’s marketers had to use special software on their desktop computers. The software would handle sending the messages through your ISP by generating emails one at a time at a rate that the mail servers wouldn’t block.  It could take a couple hours to send an email to a few hundred people.

Near the end of the decade, email providers such as Constant Contact and iContact emerged. These companies provided a way to send out your messages through their servers guaranteeing deliverability.  They also forced the enforcement of the CAN-SPAM Act, which was nice but also sometimes inconvenient.

These services have been the backbone of email marketing for many years now. They do require a subscription based off your contact list size.  I’ve worked with clients paying anywhere from $15 to $150 a month.

I had been a fan of iContact over Constant Contact because of their discount to non-profits, great support system and easy to use interface.  It wasn’t until one of my clients was facing some huge monthly bills because of their email frequency that I started looking for alternatives.

Now I will admit that there has been some great competition for a while now… but I was very comfortable with iContact.  I knew the system so well I could even walk people through sending messages and adding contacts without looking at a computer. I also had great support including some nice discussions with iContact sales reps at the Web 2.0 Expo.

I had to find some alternatives for this client so I started looking around a bit and immediately found MadMimi and MailChimp.  They both looked ok since their pricing model includes an unlimited number of messages.  MadMimi is a great alternative but it just didn’t impress me like MailChimp did.

I created a free account with MailChimp to check out their services before setting any clients up there. Immediately I was impressed with their Forever Free Plan. I’ve never seen any company offer such a great free deal.

I’m not going to go into a long details about every feature, but here’s what I like:

  • Great prices for unlimited amount of emails
  • Social Media integration
  • Ability to build your own templates
  • Rock solid coding
  • Non-profit discounts

So this is just another reminder that even when you have long standing relationships with one provider, always check out others — there may be better deals and more services waiting for you.

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