Email Marketing Contingency Plan

It was no secret that a denial of service attack hit the big players in email marketing hard last week. I thought it was only Aweber but I heard that GetResponse was also targeted and even MailChimp.

Fortunately for me, the consequence was not so disastrous. I don’t rely on email marketing to the extent some of my colleagues do. One day I just might…And for the sake of my clients, I will need to come up with some sort of contingency plan.

Rather than talk about a specific plugin, I will spend some time talking about the advantages and disadvantages of self hosting your autoresponder.

Now there are many WordPress plugins out there for email marketing — but only a few actually make the cut. Having tested many, its opened my eyes to new possibilities.

Let’s now examine these:

What Is A Self Hosted Autoresponder

Many of us are familiar with using services such as Aweber. These are speciality platforms that host the entire mailing service for us from the written content to the delivery of the email. They are made for marketers and service providers like myself to gather a list of prospects and keep communication with them. Rather than lose that person who comes to your site, the goal is to maintain them as a loyal subscriber.

On the other hand, a self hosted autoresponder is one that sits on your own system. In my case, I tested a few WordPress plugins. It was therefore up to my site to be responsible for the message, people’s emails and the delivery. Since I was only testing, that responsibility started and ended with my own emails!

The Drawback Of Self Hosted Autoresponders

As you might suspect, there are major drawbacks to using your own system. If not, then why would people be spending monthly fees on a hosted solution?

Restrictions: Your hosting provider may place a restriction on the amount of emails you can send per hour or day. If you had 1000x subscribers and were sending 1 email per day, you’ve pretty much blown your limit. It’s just not always scalable.

Deliverability: Although some providers have been criticised in recent times for low deliverability, if you’re on your own; you are sure to come up against some problems here. Imagine the overhead if your system had to check every minute for the possibility that an email may be sent. As a compromise, you could just have it sent spasmodically or hourly. It really depends on your requirements.

Legalities: Email providers like Aweber are set up to comply with the spam act and cover all those issues such as double optin, unsubscribe links and addresses on footer. They will give you a gentle reminder if you try and cut corners. With your own solution, you  are at the mercy of your own diligence. Also, if your login is compromised, it’s finders keepers for the hacker and your email list. You’re going to have some pretty angry customers, I bet!

Am I Saying Not To Use Your Own Solution

Heck no! It’s better than nothing right? My advice would be to use it to capture emails in the unlikely event your provider ever goes down again. You can export and import between your autoresponders.

If you’re on a tight budget, have a small list and only a few emails per prospect, it may be a good solution for you. Just keep in mind its not likely scalable. On the other hand, its always there as long as your site is there.

Final Thoughts

This post was inspired by a friend of mine. She runs plrpump. We had a discussion on this same topic. I urge you to read her post and the comments her network posed for solutions to the great outage of 2014!

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