Graphical Email Services

Many staff want their email updates to be graphical, instead of just text.  Several companies have tools that allow you to use pre-designed templates or to design your own.  While this is appealing, there are also some disadvantages.  If you decide graphical email updates are for you, below are a few of the most popular companies that can get you started.

Advantages:

  • Allows you to design your emails with photos/graphics, links, etc.  (This also could be a disadvantage, if it isn't done well!)
  • Allows you to track how many people are opening your emails and what links they are clicking on (if you include links to videos, other websites, online giving page, etc.)
Disadvantages:
  • More complicated than sending regular emails – you don't need to be a computer expert, but there is a learning curve.  If computers are not your friend, graphical emails may not be for you.
  • Can take much more time.  You will have to determine if the benefits for you and your ministry partners out weight the extra work.
  • Graphical emails may not look the same to all of your recipients.  You are basically turning your email into a mini webpage (HTML).  Your recipients will view your email in a wide variety of browsers (Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, Chrome), email systems (Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Apple Mail, Outlook 03, Outlook 07, Outlook 10), operating systems (Mac OS X, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Linux), and mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Simbian).  All of these may render your email slightly different.  MailChimp for example will run a test to give you examples of how your email template looks on each of these.
 
Here are a few of the most popular options:

Mail Chimp - what we use for the TGIF E-Letter
  • Free if you have less than 2000 people on your email list
  • Free sending limit = 12,000/month
  • Paid plans available with a 15% non-profit discount
  • Offered in some non-US countries - see International Plan Pricing details
  • Good overview and training video library and iTunes training library
  • Ability to automatically send out FaceBook or Twitter updates relating to your email
  • The email service we use for our Ministry Partner Development TGIF Emails
Constant Contact

iContact
 

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