There is a healthy choice of cloud based email marketing solutions on the web that makes life much easier for online marketers. Those services can definitely fit the bill for most and the differences are mainly in cost and options.
I’ve personally tried iContact, ConstantContact and MailChimp. At the end I’ve chosen MailChimp due to convenience and the fact that it is still free for less than 1,000 subscribers: quite enough for my highly targeted mail list. Presently, iContact is the most expensive choice, followed by ConstantContact and MailChimp, although all are quite affordable even on a bootstrap budget.
The only drawback of using free MailChimp account is having their logo at the bottom of every email but it’s still quite inconspicuous anyway.
Another factor, that tipped my choice, is slightly faster speed of ChimpMail compared to others. Some templates just took too long to load, probably due to tricky connection out of China.
Obviously, there are more choices than the ones mentioned above but I’m less familiar with those. Other popular services include Vertical response, ActOn, Campaign Monitor, Pardot, Hubspot, Eloqua, Aweber, InfusionSoft, DotMailer.
When it comes to organizing email marketing campaigns in China, these are the factors you should consider in choosing the most suitable service:
Compared to other forms of marketing such as direct mail, magazines or printed newsletters, email marketing is the cheapest option;
Mail list management:
You should be able to maintain separate mailing lists or segment the existing ones to match your recipients’ interests or language. For example, I maintain separate lists for English, Chinese Traditional and Chinese Simplified readers;
Reporting and Tracking:
email campaigns must be tracked and analyzed. You should be able to see the open rate, delivery rate, bounce rate, click rate etc. This would help you to craft your message more precisely next time;
Email marketing campaigns should be mobile friendly as most of the recipients in China would see them on their mobile devices first;
Trusted Mail Server:
Make sure your emails are not blocked by infamous Great China Firewall by having them tested on the actual China-based recipients;
Nearly all the above mentioned services use WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) type of graphic editor. There are typically a few dozen templates available as well. The graphics can be further tweaked by customizing CSS for more advanced users;