Email is still the killer app, no matter what folks, including me, predict about RSS and the like being email’s demise. Using email as a marketing tool is still very effective, it’s just gotten harder to do. (When I talk about email for marketing I am only referring to legitimate, opt-in email that people have asked to receive.)
Email marketing has become increasingly difficult because email inboxes are flooded with lots of legitimate mail and lots of junk so getting your customer or prospect to pay attention to your mail has become more difficult, but that’s really only half the battle.
A growing challenge for emailers are aggressive spam filters (I use them too, but they aren’t perfect) and countless mail readers with special quirks each unto their own, causing your HTML emails to look funny or not render at all. There are lots of great email services out there that can help marketing send great looking HTML email that gets delivered, gets opened and gets tracked. I like iContact, SwiftPage, Vertical Response, Constant Contact and MailChimp just to name few. It’s a bit maddening at times though because they all seem to do one thing or another really well.
All of these services work very hard to understand the spam filters, help fight spam and help you get your mail delivered. MailChimp recently added a very cool feature called the Inbox Inspector. This add-on, fee based, tool allows you to run your proposed email campaign through the actual filters used by the leading ISPs, get very accurate spam scoring and a snapshot of how your email will actually render for AOL, Outlook 7 or a host of other email clients. The service is available whether you send your email through MailChimp or not.