Like so many other people, as soon as I was ready to start a newsletter, I searched and searched for a service that fit within my budget — which meant a free service. Then a few months ago, I went on another search to find an email marketing service that would meet my needs. It wasn't that the free service I had been using was bad, not by any means. But I had simply outgrown that service. I needed more features than the free service could provide me with. And at the end of my search, I signed up for the 30-Day free trial with GetResponse. Now, I'm about a month out of the free trial, so I decided that now's a pretty good time to go ahead and give my review of GetResponse.
The email editor is deceptively simple. At first, I felt a bit overwhelmed and it seemed like anything I tried ended up looking bad. Even copy-and-pasting my emails in from a word processor ended up looking funny as though my toddler formatted everything for me. But, the more I've used it, the easier it has become.
For the most part, the controls for editing your newsletter is the same as any word processor. There are bold and italics, line breaks, paragraphs, font color and style. GetResponse also offers a drag-and-drop interface where you can find new elements to add into your newsletter (the grey boxes along the right-hand side). The possible combinations are endless: text boxes, images, images plus text, social media icons, sharing icons — even PayPal buttons. So far, I have stuck with the basics: images and text separated by horizontal bars. I haven't really found much need for anything fancier than that. Plus, with so many email service providers blocking images lately, I've just found it more convenient to focus on the text.
I do wish that the editing tools themselves didn't seem so invasive, especially when I get close to the end of a section or while I'm writing a new section. Even after months of using GetResponse, I still find myself trying to move the editing panel out of my way.
And yes I know that technically the editing bar is not really in my way: as I continue typing it continues to move down the page so I can see what I am writing. But, I don't know…it's just so close. I really would prefer it to be about an inch further down.
At any point while you are writing and editing any of your newsletters, you can save any section as a “Snippet”…
To save the snippet, click on the small icon in the top right-hand corner that looks like a page with a tiny plus sign on it. You'll then see that block appear as a snippet in your Blocks Menu:
Now, anytime you are writing any future newsletters, this block will always be available to you to stick into your emails. This is so useful for those elements that you are placing into each of your newsletters, such as your signature, contact information, or even if you've formatted an area for a repeat feature.
Of course, if all I wanted was to be able to send out a basic newsletter, I could have continued using the free service. But I needed more. Specifically, I needed Auto-Responders.
Auto-responders are just how they sound: an email that is automatically sent out in response to a trigger. With GetResponse, that trigger can be time-based (send a second email 24 hours after sending the first email) or action-based (send a new email after the first email has been opened).
The time-based autoresponder was perfect for setting up my free ecourse. And it uses all the same drag-and-drop interface as the email editors I described above.
Action-based autoresponders are perfect for personalized follow-ups to certain actions. For example, if you sent out an email with an offer; you could set an autoresponder to email anyone who opened that email but didn't click the link. Or, if they did click and take advantage of your offer, you could send them an automatic thank you, or a tutorial on how to use that product, or even discount coupons for future purchases.
The Form Builder
Okay, every email marketing service provider out there is going to have some way for you to build a form to use so people can opt-in to your newsletter. But I really like just how easy it is to customize the forms on GetResponse so they match my branding perfectly. With other services, trying to customize the forms so that they matches the rest of my site was a bit of a branding nightmare. I like going in, choosing my form template, and being able to change around the colors and wording and throw up my logo without too much hassle, without having to learn all new code, and without breaking some other part of my website.
Inbox Preview and Responsive Email Layouts
Honestly, your email can only do any good if people can read it, right? But what happens if they go to view all that wonderful content you've worked so hard creating for them and it doesn't work correctly? What if they're using a different browser than you are? Or gasp what if they're using Internet Explorer [insert wailing scream here]?
GetResponse has an inbox preview that you can use to check just about every mail client in just about every browser — including mobile — out there. Even AOL.
And with the responsive email layouts, you can even see what your emails are going to look like at different sizes. No more opening an email and having to scroll sideways to read it (which I hate doing).
Now, a quick reminder, but my last email marketing service provider was free. Nonetheless, it did offer email analytics, and those analytics were on par with other analytics of various systems, including GetResponse. So, in comparison, there really isn't much to say here.
But, I do love the GetResponse Analytics and how easy they are to read, respond to, and measure overall success so I can make adjustments. You can get the analytics as a visual chart (shown below) or as a list.
GetResponse also offers a slew of other features that I have not yet taken advantage of. So while I might not be able to comment on how well they work, I can tell you that once I get to the point where I will be needing these features, I'm really glad I can get them all in one place, and I won't need to be signing up (and spending even more money) with some other service or going through the pain of switching newsletter providers.
- Landing Pages. I know you've seen them around — these are the pages that are dedicated solely to some course or some book — usually with some sort of lead-capturing form on it such as “sign up for my free webinar” and you put in your name and email address. They are nice, clean pages that keep your visitors from wandering about a vast website, getting distracted by links and clutter.
- Webinars. A webinar is just what it sounds like — a seminar hosted on the World Wide Web. GetResponse offers webinar hosting so you can create those courses, hold those meetings, and so much more.
- Automated Workflows. Want people to finish your ecourse and then be moved over onto a list? Or How about following up with your webinar students with a special offer or even a free download? GetResponse can help you get all of these set up to make your behind-the-scenes work much easier on your schedule.
Deliverability and Growth
I noticed a huge jump in my newsletter deliverability right away — even though the overall content and how I wrote my newsletters really didn't change all that much. I still use the same basic email template that I wrote out a couple years ago. But I am getting fewer errors and bounce backs.
Additionally, the newsletter has grown much faster over at GetResponse than it ever did with my free service. In just a few months I have more than tripled the number of subscribers to my main newsletter, and doubled that for the ecourse that I offer. While some of this growth may be in that I am doing a bit more marketing for the newsletter than I used to, I also contribute part of the growth to fewer failures and coding errors on the part of GetResponse. My last email marketing service provider has more than a few issues with getting their forms to work correctly on my site.
While this isn't a function of GetResponse, per se, their customer service and available training is excellent. I haven't had to contact them often (the service is so easy to learn and use); but the few times I have had to contact them the answers were polite, full of value, and fast. I really like not having to wait around for an answer on how to fix my email.
In Conclusion, my list of Pros and Cons
Overall, I am very glad to have made the switch over to GetResponse. So much so that I went with an annual plan as I can foresee no reason for me to make another move anytime soon. But that's not to say that there aren't a few improvements to be made. After all, nothing is perfect, right? So here you go, in a nutshell, here is my list of pros and cons:
- Generous 30 day trial with full functionality (if you have fewer than 250 subscribers)
- Very low learning curve with step-by-step guidance
- If all you are looking for is the Email plan, the list-based pricing is much less than other services (if you add-on many of the other features, such as their webinars, their prices to go up — but are still comparable to other providers out there)
- Some of the available email templates are a bit out-dated, which prompted me to build my own
- Their email editor can be a bit fidgety, sometimes dropping elements where I didn't want them
- The back-end can be a bit confusing to navigate, and could probably use some upgrades to make it smoother.