15 Day Email Challenge Day 8- Which is better; an in-house email program or a 3-party service provider?

Whether you are just starting out or have been growing your list for many years, there may come a time when you start wondering if housing your own email program would be better than paying a 3-party service. If you search online, you’ll see strong opinions supporting each of the choices, but really it comes down to what you feel is best for you.

To help with your decision, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of both kinds of service.

Let’s start with in-house programs such as arpReach.

Pros
– You can import & export subscribers without having to verify opt-in. This is good if you originally built your mailing list without a double opt-in feature.
– No monthly service fees. You simply buy the product outright and you’re done.
– You have the ability to bulk organize and edit large amounts of customer data.
– Programs are typically simple to use once installed
– There is no limit on how many email address and autoresponders you have
– You have complete control over all aspects of your list

Cons
– Your delivery rates could take a hit if your messages are caught in spam filter
– If you get a lot of spam complains, your domain could be blacklisted which will cost you valuable time trying to get those decisions reversed.
– Unless you are tech savvy, you may have to pay to have someone install and set up the program.
– You have to pay for all support and possibly to have custom scripts created or installed.
– There are typically no updates to the software so you’ll have to pay for upgrades
– The volume of email you send may use too much of your hosting bandwidth which could cause your site to go down and/or emails not to send.
– Many offer no kind of tracking feature so you cannot see how well your messages are doing

Third-party services have their own set of good and bad points. Let’s take a look.

Pros
– There’s no installation necessary
– Services are easy to use.
– Many have good training areas where you can learn how to make the most of the service.
– Many services offer support via live chat, email and phone.
– It’s easy to integrate with other 3rd-party services like PayPal
– Tracking & reporting capability so you can analyze how your messages are doing
– Most services offer html email templates to make publishing easy

Cons

– Cost is probably the biggest turn-off of 3rd party services. While most services are fairly inexpensive when your list is small, the price increases as your lists grow. With some services you may end up paying $200 or more a month to email your subscribers.
– Importing lists can be a problem. Most services require subscribers to re-verify that they want to be on your list. Chances are, you’re going to lose a bunch of subscribers during this process.
– Limited ability to edit subscriber data. You may not be able to edit all the data and most services don’t allow you to bulk edit. So you have to edit each subscriber individually.
– While a few services may allow you to embed video directly in your email, many do not. So you’ll have to house your videos on your site and link to them in your messages.

Regardless of which you choose, remember to select a quality program or service. Do your homework. Look for reviews from legitimate users of the services and products you are considering. Ask other businesses what they use. Getting this right the first time will save you a lot of time and headache in the future.

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