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The first known large-scale non-commercial spam message was sent on 18 January 1994 by an Andrews University system administrator, by cross-posting a religious message to all USENET newsgroups. In January 1994 Mark Eberra started the first email marketing company for opt in email list under the domain Insideconnect.com. He also started the Direct Email Marketing Association to help stop unwanted email and prevent spam.  
Where they can improve: The automation editor lacks a workflow view, so isn’t the most intuitive to use. List management isn’t the best, either – it doesn’t remove duplicates and lists are kept isolated from another. It also has one of the strictest acceptable use policies, and isn’t ideal if your business deals with affiliate marketing, healthcare products, real estate or novelty products. And it’s certainly not the cheapest provider out there – surprising, given its popularity (which just goes to show the power of great marketing!). Note – we’ve noticed that emails from MailChimp tend to go to Gmail’s Promotions folder.
This article is informative, but it does not offer distinguishing features between the services covered (other than mailchimp is free). You seemed to go to great lengths to say good things about each – although I’m sure each services has positive aspects. I would have benefited much more from a rating of some sort of the various features of each service, or at least the pros & cons of each.
While this might seem surprising at first, think about your own online behavior: When you sign up for a website (like an online store), you have to enter your email address to create the account. You even need an email address to create a Facebook or Twitter account. What’s more, Facebook and Twitter email to notify users of activity, like when someone is tagged in a photo.
If you’re frequently practicing the content upgrade strategy as part of your blogging efforts, you’ll quickly amass a base of “premium” upgrades. One relatively advanced method for packaging this base of content upgrades is to create a “content vault.” This is where you require visitors on your website to register and in exchange they get full access to all your content upgrades instantly (plus some other goodies, ideally). Ryan Deiss practices this technique on Digital Marketer.com (see below). sites like Video Fruit and others have launched similar membership only areas of their websites. This strategy is but one more incentive to encourage visitors to optin on your website using their email. There are basic tools and plugins that allow you to setup this membership functionality on your WordPress site, but most of the best ones have a paid option.
What we like: Automations are ActiveCampaign’s specialty, so the different automations on offer are almost limitless – you can build complex workflows based on email engagement, web events, and events in third-party tools (e.g. purchases or support tickets). Segmentation features are advanced, with the ability to use automations to organize people into lists. As you’d expect, the reports are excellent, with options to view reports on deals, automations and contact trends. And finally, ActiveCampaign have consistently performed well in our deliverability tests. Solid choice, all around.
Drive traffic back to your website with specific CTAs. When marketing your holiday sales through email marketing, make sure to take the opportunity to drive traffic directly back to your site. Use a distinct and compelling call-to-action that invites readers to click for more information or to make a purchase. Link each CTA to a targeted landing page that provides more details about your holiday promotions. You could also link directly to a product page for easy purchase.
Email can accommodate almost any message a marketer wants to send. For instance, UrbanDaddy.com, a nightlife website, ran a highly successful email marketing campaign by including large, eye catching images in the header of the email. The images were geared toward a young male demographic and gave the email context. They encouraged the reader to scroll down and engage with the sales messages contained in the body of the email. (See also Targeted Marketing)
☑ Autoresponders (and automation) – Because you don’t want to be manually sending a welcome email every time someone signs up for your service! Autoresponders are an absolutely crucial part of small business email marketing (think order confirmations, renewal reminders etc). And if you want to take them to the next level, choose a tool that offers advanced automations, such as web-triggered campaigns and lead scoring.
Email marketing may be a great way to reach your current and past customers and influence direct conversions, but social media can also be a valuable tactic for advertising your holiday promotions. Overall, social media channels have a much higher engagement rate than email marketing – consumers are more likely to share social media content from brands than they are email content.