The purpose of an email service is to help you collect leads, build your mailing list, and communicate with your current and potential customers. An ideal mailing service will be easy to use, offer great features, and it will provide good reporting data that you can use to improve your email campaigns. In this ReachMail review, I’ll take a look at their features and see if it meets my requirements for an ideal mailing service.
Email for Startups
If you’re a small business or an individual that wants to start up with a new email service you’re probably very sensitive to price. You may have a limited (or non-existent) marketing budget and not be willing to spend money on things that haven’t proven their worth yet. Email marketing services typically have a few ways of pricing their products. They may base it on the number of users in your list, how many email you send per month, or maybe they have a pay-as-you-go option where you buy a certain number of messages that you send out as you need.
Prices for these different levels can vary by the service. But if you’re just getting started is nice to have a free mass email service that you can use to establish your mailing list without spending a whole lot of money. As you build up your list (and hopefully make conversions and earn some money) then you can feed some of that profit back into the mailing service so you can cover the costs of the higher service levels as your list grows.
In my opinion, the top 5 email marketing platforms for small business (especially new businesses) are AWeber, MailChimp, SendBlaster, TargetHero, and ReachMail. AWeber is fairly inexpensive for its basic level. The rest are free email marketing service providers at their starter levels.
ReachMail is actually pretty good free mass email service in my opinion. Their free package offers 15,000 monthly emails and a subscriber limit of 5000 users. But it doesn’t offer any sort of inbox preview, and it doesn’t have integrated Google analytics. I’ll touch on inbox preview and Google Analytics later in this review.
When I’m evaluating a service, one of the things that I do sometimes is to play the helpless customer. I call with issues like “I can’t get in, my password isn’t working” or “Where can I find information on how to use your service better”, etc. I want to know how well they treat customers that really, really need help.
ReachMail was right on top of that. They answered the phone immediately (I called during business hours) and were very helpful, even though I’m on their free service. In fact, they didn’t even ask what plan I was on. They were very patient with me and were very helpful to make sure that I could get logged into the system and that I could find the resources that I needed to get started.
ReachMail support has been excellent for me so far. If you’re a new user I’d recommend going through all of their training videos to make sure you have a good understanding of how to use all of the tools. If you still have any problems or questions after watching those, ReachMail is really helpful and responsive. You can send questions by email or phone call.
Tutorials and Help System
ReachMail has some great tutorial videos. They are the typical screen capture format, but they’re done very well. They have 8 helpful video tutorials totaling about 15 minutes.
Their help system is really good too. It’s contextual, meaning if you click on “Help” it will give you help topics appropriate to the page you are on. The help topics are thorough, and even include their own little screen capture animated images that point out specific things, like clicking a particular button. But if you still can’t find what you need with the help system you can submit a help ticket.
Your email design will vary depending on the goals of your campaign. From simple text-based emails to graphically rich responsive designs with embedded media. In ReachMail you can build your mailings from a blank template, from a selection of their templates, a custom template that you create in the system, from a web page, or from a file that you upload. At the time I’m writing this review, ReachMail offers 70 templates. 63 of those are responsive, so they work well on screens from phones to desktops.
One of the great features any email service is an auto-responder. Auto-responders send out a series of one or more emails based on an action that triggers the autoresponder sequence. For example, a series of welcome emails when somebody joins a list, or maybe a series of five emails sent out once a day as a training series. There are lots of ways you can use it.
ReachMail’s auto-responder seems to work pretty well. First, you plan out what you want your autoresponder series to do. How many messages you’re going to send? What is sending schedule? When you have those figured out then you create a new message for each one of the mailings in the auto-responder series.
Once you have written all of those mailings you configure the autoresponder. You’ll do some initial setup of the autoresponder and then you set which of your messages go out on which day of the series. You set some final delivery options to say when it starts, and what the scheduling options are for the remaining messages, and then you launch it.
Once the auto-responder is in place it runs automatically. So if somebody does something like join your list they automatically get a welcome message. Then maybe two days later the system sends out another automated email with some useful information that your subscriber might be interested in. They maybe in another three days you provide some information about some offer that you think they might be interested in.
Hopefully, over time you start bringing the subscriber in through your funnel and they convert and purchase whatever the offer or product is that you’re trying to sell.
Auto responders take some time to set up and manage correctly but when they work well they’re very, I think they can be very valuable.
If you collect your subscribers’ names or other information, you can personalize your emails and autoresponders. This is a good way to bring a personal touch to your mailings. Opening an email with “Hi Darrel!” is better than “Hi Subscriber”. But you have to have the data. If you don’t require names on your subscriber forms, I’d avoid using this feature or it could look fake in your emails.
ReachMail has three types of reports. Campaign, List, and Survey. Inbox Previews is also accessed from the reports screen.
These are probably the reports I use the most. They provide information about how well each of my campaigns is working (or not working). I get data on recipient opens, bounces, unsubscribes (opt-outs), tracked links, forwards, comparison charts, volume, and a lot more. Once you have an amount of data collected from campaigns, you can start to analyze it and improve future campaigns by focusing on what works.
This report gives you information about your subscriber lists. This is different than campaigns which may go to one or more lists. With List Reports, you details about how many of your subscribers are active, how many are undeliverable (Opt-outs or hard bounces), how engaged they are with your emails over the past 120 days, and which email domains are the most active. Like Gmail or Yahoo. You also see the most recent mailings that went to the lists and their stats.
If you use ReachMail’s surveys, then this is where you get reports on the Survey responses. I don’t use surveys, so I can’t honestly comment on this feature. But I can see how it might be used. I think the value of surveys (if you use them right) could be that they help your list feel like they are contributing to your network. Maybe you can send out a survey with three blog post ideas and you want to know which is most important for your readers. You’ll write one for the topic that wins.
This is a tool that allows you see how your email will look in particular email programs like Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, or iPhone’s mail app. That’s could be a useful feature but most of the time I can send test emails to my own email accounts that I can access from various types of devices. In fact, I keep a “Darrel” list with only my email addresses in it that I use for testing. So I think I can have a pretty good level of confidence that my mailings will appear the way I want to across all of the services.
There’s no denying that social media is an invaluable tool for building your list. ReachMail provides easy integration to Twitter and Facebook accounts to share your message across those platforms. Once you’ve linked ReachMail to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, your mailings will be automatically posted to those services as short links to the web version of your mailings. A notable absence here is LinkedIn.
ReachMail has a WordPress plugin. The plugin does one thing. It adds a widget that you can place on your site. Once you configure the widget it will automatically place your ReachMail form on your site wherever you put the widget. It didn’t work for me on my hosted service. I think there was some issue with my host blocking access to external services. But a ReachMail standard HTML form works fine in a WordPress text block widget. The form on all of my blog pages is a ReachMail form. Go ahead and try it. There’s a subscription form on this page. I’ll wait here.
ReachMail offers Google analytics integration, but only available only on paid accounts. That’s a good feature, but I’m not sure it’s worth the expense to upgrade if you’re just starting out. It might be possible to put your own Google analytics tracking code into the HTML code of your emails. This may behave a little different than using their integrated Google analytics features, and probably wouldn’t provide the same level of analytics detail. I haven’t tried it yet.
Don’t be a Spammer
ReachMail doesn’t work with purchased lists or lists with “severe permission issues”. By this, they mean high bounce rates, high opt-outs, and high reports of abuse. I don’t know what the thresholds are but I’m sure that if you purchased a cruddy list, you’ll get reported by the recipients and have a lot of hard bounces. At some point, ReachMail will kick you off of the service. So don’t be a spammer, because spammers suck.
Migrating from Other Services or Databases
It’s easy to import your existing mailing lists into a ReachMail list. You can use Excel spreadsheets or CSV files. Before you upload a list, I recommend exporting one of your ReachMail lists so you have a template for the data fields in ReachMail’s lists. But remember the rules about purchased lists and permission issues. Don’t just drop in some list that you bought or downloaded.
The Take Away
ReachMail has been a great service for me so far. Their training tutorials and support are excellent. It was very easy for me to get started with my first campaign. As I use it more I’m sure I’ll get more adept at creative ways to enhance my campaigns and make them more effective. If you’re new to email marketing or if you’re just looking for service to get started with I definitely recommend taking a look at reach mail.
If you do sign up for it come back here and let me know what you think. Do you agree with my review? Did I miss anything? Did you sign up for my list using my super-awesome ReachMail form?
And if you like this post, please share it with anyone you think could benefit from a free mass email service.
See ya’ down the road!