Molly K. McLaughlin is a New York-based writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering technology. She has tested and reviewed all sorts of software, mobile apps, and gadgets. Before launching her freelance business, she was an editor at PC Magazine, covering consumer electronics, followed by a stint at ConsumerSearch.com, a review website. Molly also runs About.com's Android site and contributes to DealNews and other online publications. Follow her on Twitter @bloggingmolly.
Send yourself a test email. Before sending an email to a list of people, send one to yourself. Read over the email carefully and keep an eye out for poor formatting or incorrectly sized pictures. Check the email in multiple browsers and use different devices to see if it works across different platforms. Click all the links within the email and make sure they are working as intended.
When people talk about email marketing, lots of them forget to mention transactional emails. These are the automated emails you get in your inbox after taking a certain action on a website. This could be anything from filling out a form, to purchasing a product, to updating you on the progress of your order. Often, these are plain text emails that marketers set and forget.

No matter what the focus of your newsletter is, you can pull down content from blog posts or search the web to pull content from a variety of sources – Flashissue automatically summarizes this content for you. After populating the editor with a certain number of story summaries, you can change the headline and article descriptions in order to better personalize it for your readers. This allows a more tailored emailer, rather than just generic news.
Paste your e-blast into the body of the email blast software. You should write your email blast in another software application that checks for spelling or grammar errors. Once your text is ready, you can paste it into the body for your email blast. Take note of formatting, spacing, and links because some of these don't transfer over correctly from one software to another.

I’ve always been a mailchimp user myself, and I have to say I really like their UI but I’m always open to new options. I’ve dabbled in a couple of the other email marketing providers like Pure360 – but find them so clunky and annoying to use (despite them looking really pretty and having great templates) that I always end up going back to good old mailchimp. I haven’t used GetResponse yet, I’ll give their free trial a shot :)
What I’d like to know is whether any email marketing software provider allows you send emails that look identical to if they were sent from Gmail. I find that the best newsletters are those that look like it came from a friend. If only Mailchimp or Aweber didn’t force their logos and HTML style in every campaign I imagine they’d get way better open and click through rates. Do you know of any services that do this?

Haven’t used email marketing as much as I should. Previously, we tried using ImnicaMail because of their pricing but it was as good as not having an email marketing campaign; all our mail was sent to spam (since they did not manage their customers’ list for spam). Thought email marketing wasn’t effective until I found out our emails were being sent to the spam box. Learnt my lesson there.
Thanks Kelly, Mailchimp have definitely come a long way with their UI over the years, it’s just their service that hasn’t caught up ;) I haven’t had the chance to play around with Pure360 as much as I’d like, but I’ve heard the same things echoed by several friends who use their service. Looking at their client list, I think they’re more aimed at large companies though.

Marketing emails need to be personalized to the reader and filled with interesting graphics. Few people want to read emails that are addressed "Dear Sir/Madam" -- as opposed to their first or last name -- and even fewer people want to read an email that simply gives them a wall of text. Visuals help your recipients quickly understand what the point of the email is.

Thanks for the article, it was also interesting and inspiring to see your other ventures in diverse fields. Would like to connect 1:1 in the near future. Meanwhile, even I had done a similar comparison as I myself handle email marketing for my organization. Do check it out as well as for the readers of the blog since it covers 2 additional players.

Sample review: Optinmonster “has various forms you can embed on your site to help with email conversion but one of the most interesting ones is the popup. You can set the popup only to appear on ‘exit intent’.  This means that your website visitor can browse all they want and when they are about to exit the website you can have a popup appearing tempting the visitor to leave their email address.” — RazorSocial (World)
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