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Morticia

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OK, made an idiot out of myself trying to set up an email broadcast the other day, so why I think I might do better with a PAID email service, I don't know. Either way I have to create an email list. It's involved no matter what I do. So, with that said, I can sign up for 2 free months of Constant Contact ($15/month after that) or another service, MyNewsletterBuilder, for 1 free month and service starting at $8/month afterwards.
The reason I would think of choosing one of these services over just doing this from my own guest management software is that they both harp on how much work they do with ISP's to get the mail thru.
Now, I have not had a lot of guests lately, BUT, at least 50% of my confirmation/thank you emails have not gone thru lately. Anyone with a 'standard' email address (comcast, aol, yahoo, cox.net) are all returning 'your mail is delayed' and then 'your mail is undeliverable' messages. So, guests arriving this weekend, did not get an email confirm as it bounced back twice.
These services do not state they guarantee the mail will go thru, but that they do a lot to work with all concerned in case there are issues. Obviously, my email addy has issues. (Again, I am getting spam from 'myself' so is the rest of the world, I'm sure.)
So, anyone ever use one of these services? I get a LOT of email from groups who use Constant Contact and I like the way it looks. Nicely formatted, embedded pix, links, etc.
 

gillumhouse

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My friend who works with an Arts Council group (was with SBDC and now with SBA so sends out a LOT of e-mail blasts) uses Constant Contact and loves it. She says it is very easy to use and the price depends on how many addresses you have in your list. She has been nagging me to do it (and is even letting me tag onto her account) but I have not made it yet. I will - some day....
 

Jesse Smith

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I haven't used them myself (nor am I affiliated with them in any way), but I know a lot of people who have had good luck with CampaignMonitor.com. It was originally designed for and is targeted at web designers, but anyone can use it. The nice thing about them is that they price by the mailing and per piece rather than a monthly fee.
 

Copperhead

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We have not used either of these but have received many that use Constant Contact. I agree, they are very clean in the presentation. We (well DH) did use another program - for a couple of 'free distributions' using an old customer email list we have. They worked by charging in teirs based on the number of emails on the list and they count whether they go through or not. Our first distribution had a very large bounce rate which was expected since they were emails from pre 2005. So the free month helped us clean out our list if nothing more.
On a side note - I do not know the guest management software you use but I will tell you I had the same issues with Webervations. What I started doing is to send the confirmation emails to myself then sent them out to the guest from there. It is a extra step but now my emails go through. - I request a quick reply so I know it was received and read (hopefully). You may wish to give this a try.
Best of luck with your email blitz, let us know how it works for you --- both program & the marketing!
 

swirt

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I've seen and heard good things about Constant Contact. Though when I have had to do email marketing I use GroupMail www.group-mail.com
It is a program that has a lot of nice sending features.
One of the problems with sending from SI or other systems is that they use an smtp server that is not associated with the email address you are using, so it is suspect as being spam. AS opposed to when you are sending, you are (or should be) using an smtp server that is connected to your email address. Groupmail can use your smtp server so it gives it the same credibility.
 

happyjacks

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I haven't used Constant Comment or any email services with a monthly or per-blast fee. Instead I use MaxBulk Mailer. It's software that resides on my mac and sends from my email account. One time purchase rather than ongoing expense, which suits me better.
It does everything I want it to do, BUT I don't add photos--I don't want to send attachments on these email blasts. I do, though, include plenty of links to both my website and my blog. I can format the text within the email; and I can save different mail groups (test, newbies, repeaters, etc). Also, it was very easy to import email addresses and to add them as I go.
 

swirt

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I haven't used Constant Comment or any email services with a monthly or per-blast fee. Instead I use MaxBulk Mailer. It's software that resides on my mac and sends from my email account. One time purchase rather than ongoing expense, which suits me better.
It does everything I want it to do, BUT I don't add photos--I don't want to send attachments on these email blasts. I do, though, include plenty of links to both my website and my blog. I can format the text within the email; and I can save different mail groups (test, newbies, repeaters, etc). Also, it was very easy to import email addresses and to add them as I go..
That sounds like the Mac version of GroupMail. Same idea. I always am more partial to buying something than paying a service too ;)
 

Morticia

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I've seen and heard good things about Constant Contact. Though when I have had to do email marketing I use GroupMail www.group-mail.com
It is a program that has a lot of nice sending features.
One of the problems with sending from SI or other systems is that they use an smtp server that is not associated with the email address you are using, so it is suspect as being spam. AS opposed to when you are sending, you are (or should be) using an smtp server that is connected to your email address. Groupmail can use your smtp server so it gives it the same credibility..
swirt said:
I've seen and heard good things about Constant Contact. Though when I have had to do email marketing I use GroupMail www.group-mail.com
It is a program that has a lot of nice sending features.
One of the problems with sending from SI or other systems is that they use an smtp server that is not associated with the email address you are using, so it is suspect as being spam. AS opposed to when you are sending, you are (or should be) using an smtp server that is connected to your email address. Groupmail can use your smtp server so it gives it the same credibility.
I'm looking for some sort of demo on the website, so I can see what the finished product will look like. Am I missing it?
 

swirt

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I've seen and heard good things about Constant Contact. Though when I have had to do email marketing I use GroupMail www.group-mail.com
It is a program that has a lot of nice sending features.
One of the problems with sending from SI or other systems is that they use an smtp server that is not associated with the email address you are using, so it is suspect as being spam. AS opposed to when you are sending, you are (or should be) using an smtp server that is connected to your email address. Groupmail can use your smtp server so it gives it the same credibility..
swirt said:
I've seen and heard good things about Constant Contact. Though when I have had to do email marketing I use GroupMail www.group-mail.com
It is a program that has a lot of nice sending features.
One of the problems with sending from SI or other systems is that they use an smtp server that is not associated with the email address you are using, so it is suspect as being spam. AS opposed to when you are sending, you are (or should be) using an smtp server that is connected to your email address. Groupmail can use your smtp server so it gives it the same credibility.
I'm looking for some sort of demo on the website, so I can see what the finished product will look like. Am I missing it?
.
There is a free version http://www.group-mail.com/asp/common/downloads.asp
As far as the looks. It is only the "sender" you can create whatever you want either a text only email or as html. That part is up to you.
 

innshopper

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Sorry in advance for this very long post!
It sounds like your primary goal in moving to a paid email service would be better inbox delivery. Your ability to deliver mail is typically determined by the reputation of your sending IP, and the content of the individual message you are sending out.
MESSAGE CONTENT
ISPs (Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) typically assign a score to the content of the message you are delivering. A low score is usually better. Things that can raise your score (make your message look more like spam) are:
- Are you sending html emails or text emails? Html emails are by default “spammier”.
- Do you have spammy phrases in your email like “free with purchase”?
- Is your html email mostly images? Too many images in relation to the amount of text is a bad thing.
- Are you sending the email to one person or CCing your whole mailing list? One at a time is better, but this doesn’t mean you have to manually do it.
One of the most common scoring systems is SpamAssassin. You can find a complete list of the tests performed here: http://spamassassin.apache.org/tests_3_2_x.html. Some of this is overly technical, but it gives you an idea of what they are looking at.
IP REPUTATION

Whenever an ISP receives email, it is monitoring the IP and the actions the recipients end up taking. For example, if you send 10 emails out and 5 recipients click the “this is spam” button, the ISP will think that the sending IP is not very reputable. Over time, this may mean that your messages do not get delivered, or at a minimum get placed in a “bulk” folder.
In addition, most ISPs set up “spam traps”. These can sometimes be old, inactive accounts that used to be valid users but have been inactive for years. When you mail to one of these initially, you will get a message like “invalid email address”. Make sure you take those addresses off of your email list, because if you continue to mail them it will damage your reputation over time.
Another issue here is that you may be sharing an IP with multiple senders, depending on the system you are using. When you share an IP, you are also penalized for any bad behaviors made by other users of that IP. Not that shared IPs are completely bad – many paid services still use them, and I suppose it does help keep costs down.

MY 2 CENTS (if I haven’t already written $1)
Try sending a VERY simple text-only message to some test accounts at Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail. Something along the lines of:

SUBJECT: test
BODY: Testing. Can I receive emails at all?

If that goes through fine, then maybe you just need to alter the content of your emails. If that still doesn’t go through, then you may have an issue with your sending IP – and at that point it may be worth your time to consider paid services.
I have heard good things about Constant Contact. I’d also consider MailChimp (http://www.mailchimp.com/pricing.phtml). It’s got a terrible name, but the product and pricing are both supposed to be good.
Zach
 

EmptyNest

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So ...who are you emailing?? A mass mailing to all previous guests??? BAD IDEA...who wants spammed?
OR do you have guests who sign up to be on "YOUR MAILING LIST? IF that is the case then fine...send them email.
We have used COnstant Contact with our association and it works very well. But I don't know what you are willing to pay to do this ..is it worth it? If you are just sending out something like a "newsy" newsletter..I wouldn't waste my time or money.
If you are sending out a "special Packages" or discount offer for a future stay..then that might be something you would want to pay for and track. Constant Contact can let you know if someone actually opens your message. Though it may be just to put it in the trash..sorry:-(
I am not a fan of just sending out email to previous guests..it is just more spam. Would you want to get something similar from all the other inns you have ever visited???
Just something to think about.
 

seashanty

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i created newsletter type mailings myself in publisher.
the newsletter is an email itself, not an attachment, because i don't want it to go directly to spam
i thought 4 times a year was enough ... so it was spring, summer, fall and winter/holiday
for example, last year it said 'our holiday gift to you' and included a % off coupon for a two or more night stay. they had to mention the newsletter to get the special. and, i did get some bookings with that. it was a one page only mailing, a little news about the area, a holiday greeting, a short recipe, a couple pictures and color. i made sure the file size was relatively small.
then i sent out i believe 50 at a time. it included a disclaimer that if they did not want to receive any emails from us, to please let me know and i'd remove their email address immediately. which i absolutely did. i only got about five such requests the whole time. if they just deleted it, that's okay too.
it also included a note that i'd be sending out another newsletter in the spring with coming events and special offers. if they wanted that, do nothing. if they wanted the next newsletter to go to a friend, please pass this link along. we will ask that they confirm they want to be receive our newsletter (etc)
i didn't feel like it was spam because it was so infrequent. and i generally asked guests at check in if they would like to receive quarterly emails. If anyone said no, i did not include them. i would never send to those who tell me to stop. as i reviewed webervations bookings, i saw most checked the box that they added themselves to my mailing list. you have to go with your instincts on this.
 

Morticia

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So ...who are you emailing?? A mass mailing to all previous guests??? BAD IDEA...who wants spammed?
OR do you have guests who sign up to be on "YOUR MAILING LIST? IF that is the case then fine...send them email.
We have used COnstant Contact with our association and it works very well. But I don't know what you are willing to pay to do this ..is it worth it? If you are just sending out something like a "newsy" newsletter..I wouldn't waste my time or money.
If you are sending out a "special Packages" or discount offer for a future stay..then that might be something you would want to pay for and track. Constant Contact can let you know if someone actually opens your message. Though it may be just to put it in the trash..sorry:-(
I am not a fan of just sending out email to previous guests..it is just more spam. Would you want to get something similar from all the other inns you have ever visited???
Just something to think about..
catlady said:
So ...who are you emailing?? A mass mailing to all previous guests??? BAD IDEA...who wants spammed?
OR do you have guests who sign up to be on "YOUR MAILING LIST? IF that is the case then fine...send them email.
We have used COnstant Contact with our association and it works very well. But I don't know what you are willing to pay to do this ..is it worth it? If you are just sending out something like a "newsy" newsletter..I wouldn't waste my time or money.
If you are sending out a "special Packages" or discount offer for a future stay..then that might be something you would want to pay for and track. Constant Contact can let you know if someone actually opens your message. Though it may be just to put it in the trash..sorry:-(
I am not a fan of just sending out email to previous guests..it is just more spam. Would you want to get something similar from all the other inns you have ever visited???
Just something to think about.
What annoyed me most about emails from places I had stayed was that they knew I wasn't a 'typical' guest but I got 'typical' guest emails. And, then, when I actually tried to contact them to make a booking, they never responded.
I get what you're saying. An 'opt in' is better. I had an opt in newsletter on the website, no one opted in. This year I have had a statement on the check-in form asking if they would like to be on an email list. (Yes or No, check the box.) No one reads the check-in form so I got 3 guests who said 'no'. Lawyers, I think, they read before they signed.
OK, so maybe some are not interested. And, then again, if that is the case, why do I hear, 'You should have told us! We would have loved that!' So, damned if I do and damned if I don't!
I'd be sending out a monthly email of what's going on. Why would I do that when it's on my website? My repeat guests don't know I have a website with info on it. They act shocked when I say, 'Oh, yes, we put all the pix from the reno on the website.' They know my phone number, that's all they feel they need to know to book a room. (Yes, they ALL call, and if they ever book online they feel they have to write in the comments section about how brave they are!)
The idea is to encourage them to book early and book often, online or on the phone...
The emailers I looked at all have an 'unsubscribe' feature. And, because something like Constant Contact is getting to be very well known, the guests should feel somewhat comfortable just clicking the 'no thanks' button.
 

Jesse Smith

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I've seen and heard good things about Constant Contact. Though when I have had to do email marketing I use GroupMail www.group-mail.com
It is a program that has a lot of nice sending features.
One of the problems with sending from SI or other systems is that they use an smtp server that is not associated with the email address you are using, so it is suspect as being spam. AS opposed to when you are sending, you are (or should be) using an smtp server that is connected to your email address. Groupmail can use your smtp server so it gives it the same credibility..
swirt said:
One of the problems with sending from SI or other systems is that they use an smtp server that is not associated with the email address you are using, so it is suspect as being spam. AS opposed to when you are sending, you are (or should be) using an smtp server that is connected to your email address. Groupmail can use your smtp server so it gives it the same credibility.
Yes, this is a good point. If you are using a service that doesn't send mail through your own SMTP server, one thing you may be able to do is set up an SPF record on your domain for the mailing service. This is basically a way of telling the receiving mail servers that you are authorizing your mailing service to send mail on your behalf. It's not foolproof, but it does help prevent false positives by spam detection software.
This is something you might have to contact your web hosting and email provider for assistance with.
 

Morticia

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Signed up tonight and created my first email blast. Need to create the email list and then set it up to mail out on a particular day. Easy but not as easy as the video.
My one complaint was with the templates and not being able to find where to switch out the pix that the template comes with. It's easy in the video, but when I went to do it, the 'optional pix' buttons were not there. The directions say that the free trial is a complete package, so that's not the problem.
Then again, I couldn't figure out how to send an email to myself from my own guest management software, so take my problems with a grain of salt.
 

swirt

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Signed up tonight and created my first email blast. Need to create the email list and then set it up to mail out on a particular day. Easy but not as easy as the video.
My one complaint was with the templates and not being able to find where to switch out the pix that the template comes with. It's easy in the video, but when I went to do it, the 'optional pix' buttons were not there. The directions say that the free trial is a complete package, so that's not the problem.
Then again, I couldn't figure out how to send an email to myself from my own guest management software, so take my problems with a grain of salt..
Cool, keep us posted on the results (and send one my way). This was with Constant Contact?
 

seashanty

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bree, you can send one to me as a test if you'd like.
 

Morticia

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bree, you can send one to me as a test if you'd like..
I'm tweaking today. I had some suggestions as to what it was missing so I'll work those out and send it out to you & Swirt. BUT, fate intervenes! I joined the chamber here and TOMORROW they are having an email marketing seminar!!! So, I'll go to that and tweak some more!
 

Morticia

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Signed up tonight and created my first email blast. Need to create the email list and then set it up to mail out on a particular day. Easy but not as easy as the video.
My one complaint was with the templates and not being able to find where to switch out the pix that the template comes with. It's easy in the video, but when I went to do it, the 'optional pix' buttons were not there. The directions say that the free trial is a complete package, so that's not the problem.
Then again, I couldn't figure out how to send an email to myself from my own guest management software, so take my problems with a grain of salt..
Cool, keep us posted on the results (and send one my way). This was with Constant Contact?
.
swirt said:
Cool, keep us posted on the results (and send one my way). This was with Constant Contact?
OK, first impressions with Constant Contact as a company...they CALLED me this morning and I have an account rep. He answered the questions I had about why the email wasn't doing what I wanted it to, walked me thru it online step by step, gave me his direct phone number and was totally helpful. This is the FREE period I'm in. If that's the service you get for FREE, I'm in. He explained how the mail gets viewed by the ISP and why the delivery rate is 98% (a heck of a lot better than my own rate at this point).
Right now, I'm very happy.
 

Morticia

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Tough lesson learned...the session times out after an hour or so. Lost the changes I had just made.
 
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