What Is Self-Hosted Autoresponder Email Marketing?

This article is Part 4 of a 10-part series on Email Marketing: Self-Hosted vs Traditional Cloud-Hosted Options.

So far, we’ve looked at the different options for cloud-hosted email marketing and compared the various packages that are out there. However, many businesses with a grasp of the fundamentals of email marketing and looking to develop their strategy and gain complete control of their activities would do well to consider self-hosting as a great alternative to the hosted services.

Self-hosted email marketing entails installing software on your own server (to which only you have access) and managing every detail and nuance yourself. As we said earlier, cloud-hosted email marketing is like hiring FedEx to deliver your packages, and self-hosted email marketing is like buying and managing your own fleet of trucks and drivers.

Why a Self-Hosted Solution?

The best way to weigh up the advantages of a self-hosted email solution is probably to outline some of the disadvantages of hosted services. This gives you a firm basis for choosing to look beyond the route that most firms take and provide you with the information you need to compare the benefits of self-hosting with the advantages we’ve already explored for hosted packages.

During our research we discovered that cloud-based hosted solutions have some very clear downsides that prompted us to explore different options. They pretty much come down to four main points: Cost, Online Reputation, Security and Reliability.

1. Cost

We’ve already mentioned that most hosted email solutions provide some great incentives for signing up with them, including free trials, discounted rates and an allowance of a certain number of emails before the costs escalate. This means that when you start out in online marketing, these solutions are an ideal way of building your subscription list and managing your marketing.

However, what happens when your business grows and expands, gains more traffic and demands a higher level of customer management?

The majority of service providers for cloud-based hosting understand that, as your business grows, you’ll have more disposable income. To capitalise on this, email marketing services tend to ask for either a subscription (with a capped amount of messages), or a pay-per-email fee. As your business grows, these costs can escalate at an alarming rate. The idea is that, by the time you’ve developed a huge online following, you’ll be so comfortable with your service provider that you’ll be reluctant to make a jump to a new solution – even if the costs for the service are far above what you originally anticipated spending when you signed up with the provider.

2. Online Reputation

In terms of your ability to send large volumes of mail, your business is evaluated through the number of emails your customers receive that are incorrectly pulled out as junk or spam. The more undelivered emails that occur, the more likely you are to experience further deliverability problems in the future.

However, there’s another consideration to take into account…

When you choose a hosted solution, you’re going to be sharing the IP address of every email you send with other users. This means that if, for example, you’re using MailChimp as your preferred service provider, your IP address, and therefore email reputation, is permanently tied in with them. This reduces your scope to build and manage your own reputation online. You can’t take control of the delivery rate for your business and you’ll never be able to generate the metrics and benchmarking that a self-hosted solution would allow.

3. Security

When it comes to making sure all of your business information is completely secure, the only way you can genuinely guarantee it is if you are saving it to your own server. Any platform that requires you to rely on a third-party for managing business information, including email marketing messages, newsletters or any other communication, potentially leaves you open to exploitation.

No matter how trusted and highly rated a firm may be, the moment you upload data to their server you are open to potential security breaches, hacks and privacy violations. As your business grows you may decide that it’s safer to gain total control over this aspect of your marketing so you can be completely assured that your data is safe and secure without relying on third-party providers to manage the security on your behalf.

4. Reliability

When it comes to the reliability of your hosted solution, the one thing you know for sure is that you will never have complete control over how effectively your data is sent out to your customers. A shared SMTP server will always leave an element of doubt over just how many of your communications are delivered safely to their intended destination, no matter how trusted and respected your service provider might be.

With a self-hosted solution, you have absolute control over your database of contacts, and you can also decide whether to send emails from your server or from an external location. While it takes a bit more technical know-how to establish a self-hosting solution, business owners looking to gain more control and a guaranteed insight into delivery rates may choose this route over cloud-based options.

There are a number of other factors to consider when you start to explore self-hosting options that we’ll cover in the next section. Right now, the primary question to ask yourself is whether or not you would feel comfortable managing your own account. If you’re not too tech-savvy, it’s probably a good idea to navigate your way around cloud-hosted packages before making the leap.

about-pete
Pete Williams is an entrepreneur, author, and marketer from Melbourne, Australia.

Before being honored “Australia’s Richard Branson” in media publications all over the continent, Pete was just 21 years old when he sold Australia’s version of Yankee Stadium, The Melbourne Cricket Ground For Under $500! Don’t believe it? You will! Check out the story in the FAQ section (it really is our most asked question).

Since then, he’s done some cool stuff like write the international smash hit ‘How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea Into a Reality’ (+ the upcoming ‘It’s Not About the Product‘) and he’s created a bunch of companies including Infiniti Telecommunications, On Hold Advertising, Simply Headsets and Preneur Group.

Lots of other people think he’s pretty good too! He’s been announced as the Global Runner-Up in the JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur Awards for 2009, the Southern Region Finalist in the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year, and a member of SmartCompany’s Top 30 Under 30.

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“Now that I've got the rights back from the publishers, if you enter your email address below, you can instantly download a free audiobook version of my first book, How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea Into a Reality.” - Pete