Evaluating Different Newsletter Service

May 16, 2016

There have been numerous changes in our online properties in the past couple of years. One thing has remained mostly unchanged and that is the provider we used to send both daily and weekly e-mails to subscribers. The only significant change was Mail List Cleansing Saves Money, Removes Idle Subscribers. We’ve started testing a new service to determine if it is a better option for us and for readers. Today I’ll go over some of the features being evaluated.

First, let’s talk about making it better for readers. Our current newsletter does not meet our design goals. We have very limited formatting options and the ads inserted by the service are far too intrusive. For those reading e-mail on a mobile device, it is hard to read. While we can make some design changes with our current provider, the changes are far too few and the results fall below our goal. We know you’ll be more likely to read if the mailings look great on all devices!

I mentioned some tests we’ve run. We have set things up so that each post goes to a small internal list using a different service. Before we make a final decision, we want to make sure the new service works flawlessly. Below is a screenshot of a recent mailing using the new service. While the entire post is not pictured, I think you’ll agree that it looks far better than our current service.

mail-redesign-header

The settings used on this test mailing are mostly default settings. We’ll undoubtedly make some changes to the settings, though I don’t think it will be a drastic change from what you see in the test screenshot. While a mobile version isn’t pictured, it is a huge improvement over our current service.

We definitely feel the new service gives readers a better experience which should lead to more people reading the posts. But there are other considerations on our side.

When you have a large list, the cost of sending to that large list plays a part. Thanks to the list cleansing, our cost has gone down. We still need to do a little more research, but it looks like the cost of the new service is more or less equivalent. As long as there is not a big cost increase, this will not play a part in our decision.

Deliverability is a huge part of any mailing service. Loyal readers know there is a lot of frustration with spam filtering gone crazy. If the mail doesn’t get to subscribers then it is a complete waste even sending it. There are some settings on the back end of the new service that should allow our mailing to be considered “more trusted” and therefore more of the mail should get delivered to readers.

We know how many messages get delivered, read, clicked and other information by statistics provided by the mailing service. Our current service provides minimal stats. The new service provides more detailed information that will allow us to better know the posts of most interest to you.

Adding new readers interested in our content is important. One of our biggest disappointments with the current provider are the forms we can use to add subscribers. With the new service, we have far more options and the forms look spectacular. If anything, this improvement makes me want to switch immediately.

I wouldn’t be writing this if the tests weren’t going really well. A final decision should be made before the end of May, if not sooner. Should we decide to make the change, the subscriber lists will need to be moved from the old service to the new service. If you get a message letting you know that we’ve added you to a “new” list, know that we are simply moving you to the new service. If you don’t want to receive future posts, you have always had the ability to unsubscribe from the mailings. I hope that you’ll at least give the new service a chance so you can see the improvement we’ve seen.

Once the move is complete, I’ll write a follow-up post with more information. For now, I’m crossing my fingers that all the tests are a success so we can make a quick and easy decision.

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