The end goal of all marketing is to attract interest and generate sales of whatever you are selling. And toward this end, email marketing is still one of the most cost effective ways to get in touch (and keep in touch) with both current and potential customers.
In our most popular blog post, “7 Alternatives to Constant Contact,” we dove into the top email campaign services, their benefits, features, pricing and plans. Many of the comments asked about the ramifications of switching services and how CAN SPAM policies have impacted their email initiatives, which is what we’ll dig into this post. It’s most useful for those who are not satisfied with their email marketing campaign software or may be thinking of switching to a different service.
Be Aware of Each Providers Spam Policies When Making the Switch
First, learn everything you can about CAN SPAM, an important law that governs whether the emails you send are considered legal communication, or unsolicited spam. There are ramifications for not abiding by the law, which can include fines. If you need to brush up on the CAN SPAM law, there is an abundance of information available online.
What you need to know when switching email marketing software is that because of CAN SPAM laws, most services have a resubscribe policy in place which forces marketers to send an email asking their readers to opt into their list again before it's deemed legitimate. In spite of the law, the majority of marketers do not do this. How many are not in compliance is hard to say, but it's estimated that less than 10 percent actually do follow this law.
Email campaign services make it easier to comply nevertheless. Below are the top solutions and their various policies.
Constant Contact Policies & CAN SPAM Laws
Constant Contact takes several steps to keep you in compliance with CAN SPAM laws. It requires that every email campaign include the physical address of the sender and that unsubscribes be honored within ten days of the subscriber's request.
Constant Contact unsubscribes every spam complaint filed. The service maintains a 1 per 1000 spam tolerance rate. If the limit is exceeded, the account will be put on hold, and their rules forbid opening up a new account unless directed to do so by Customer Support. It’s in their best interest to look over each account that is shut down and working with the account holder to get them up to standard.
Switching away from Constant Contact is relatively straightforward as they allow you to export your lists in CSV or text formats with a few simple clicks. Switching to Constant Contact requires new lists to send a 're-confirm your opt-in' email when you switch which many services do as well. This can result in unsubscribes if people fail to respond.
Constant Contact is the only email-marketing provider on this list that doesn't insist on a double-opt-in procedure with new subscribers (i.e. new subscribers don’t have to confirm their subscription). Constant Contact offers a 30-day free trial.
iContact Policies & CAN SPAM Laws
iContact has a zero-tolerance spam policy in place and they review and monitor large list imports. A staff member reviews each message sent to over 5000 recipients and will either approve or reject it. If users are caught sending out emails to addresses they obtain in manners other than subscribers opting-in, they may be penalized at $100 per incident.
Switching to iContact is particularly easy insofar as that they don't require a re-opt-in email to be sent out. So while users may not lose subscribers, they must confirm that everyone on the list has opted in at some point. Switching away from iContact is also simple as the exporting list process is straightforward. iContact also has a free one month trial and they don't require a credit card during sign-up.
Vertical Response Policies & CAN SPAM Laws
Vertical Response does not tolerate spam either and they prohibit the use of third-party, purchased, rented or harvested mailing lists. Vertical Response checks uploaded mailing lists for addresses that appear to have been obtained by scraping or that suggest the mailing list may be 3rd party in nature. It also reads most emails before going out. This service will immediately investigate when a spam complaint is filed. The person filing the complaint will receive a response with the action being taken to deal with the issue.
Switching both to and from Vertical Response is easy, as the system imports from and exports to CSV format with a few clicks. The Company offers both 'Pay-As-You-'Go' pricing and monthly subscription options. There's also a free one month trial with a 500 email list and they also don't require a credit card to sign up.
GetResponse Policies & CAN SPAM Laws
Like other top services, GetResponse has a strict anti-spam policy in place. Users cannot rent, lease or purchase email addresses from 3rd parties when using GetResponse, nor can they be obtained by scraping or harvesting. If a user is found to be spamming, he/she will be issued a warning and may their account suspended without notice.
If a spam complaint is filed, GetResponse will investigate the complaint. If it is found that spam was sent, the user will be liable for any loss incurred or damage suffered by GetResponse. Fortunately, the GetResponse anti-spam team is fairly reasonable and understands when misunderstandings occur.
Switching away from GetResponse is quite simple; they offer video tutorials on how to import or export your lists in CSV format. Switching to GetResponse may be the easiest operation of any; they have more beginner-level tools than any other service reviewed here. GetResponse has a 30-day free trial without requiring a credit card during sign-up.
MailChimp Policies & CAN SPAM Laws
Switching away from MailChimp is simple -- the service gives users a five-click access to a .csv of their lists. They can even export a complete backup of their account, including templates, backups of server logs, and more, all in HTML, txt, and csv formats so users don’t need the MailChimp server to view them. Switching to MailChimp depends on where users are switching from. If they’re coming from one of the other services on this list, they’re in the clear -- if they’re bringing in a list that wasn't being monitored for spam complaints by a reputable organization prior, they'll make them re-opt-in their entire list. Mailchimp has two types of pricing – a monthly plan and a pay-as-you-go plan. They also offer a free unlimited trial if you have a small list (less than 2,000).
There you have it – the top email marketing services and their respective switching and spam policies. What have your pain-points been if you moved from one to another?
Don’t forget to take a look at our Alternatives to Constant Contact post for more information on the aforementioned services, what they offer (autoresponders? RSS?), how they differ and what type of company they’re optimal for.