Review in a hurry: SendFox is a simple email marketing platform for an unbeatable one time price, ideal for artists, authors and small businesses who don’t need a lot of frills beyond basic mailing list automation. While it has its quirks and limitations, it’s still new and therefore safe to expect improvements and new features will be added in the future.
There’s a new email marketing platform in town called SendFox. From the people behind AppSumo, SendFox is brandy new and offering an amazing introductory offer: for $49, you can get their pro plan for life. This deal comes with up to 5,000 subscribers and, since the free plan spots you 3,000 subscribers to begin with, you end up with 8,000 total after the deal. (Need more? You can also stack the discounted packages, adding additional batches of 5,000 subscribers on as needed to meet your needs.)
No monthly fee ever, just a single one-time charge.
I was intrigued.
I currently use MailChimp to manage four mailing lists. I originally signed up for MailChimp when I was dipping my toes into email marketing for the simple reason that it was what everyone was using and I knew it would integrate easily just about everywhere (which it does). Because I don’t do as much email marketing as I should, I have never used even a fraction of the features they offer and that makes their interface a little overwhelming when what I actually need it for is fairly simple.
But MailChimp isn’t cheap and you’re looking at a minimum of $9.99 a month if you’ve got more than 2,000 people on your list or want access to some of their more advanced features and that cost only goes up the bigger your list is. That may not seem like much until you think about that charge coming in every single month for the entire lifetime of your business. It adds up! There’s also really no good way to do a drip or extended scheduled campaign on MailChimp unless you’re on a top tier plan.
So while I don’t dislike MailChimp, I don’t really like it all that much either and not having that monthly fee eating into my profits sure would be nice. The allure of paying a single fee, which was less than half a single year of MailChimp’s lowest plan, was great so I decided to give SendFox a try.
What I like about SendFox
- One time fee. I said that above but it bares repeating. Paying one (small) lump sum and then never having to pay for my email marketing again? Love it!
- One time $10 upgrade for every additional 1,000 subscribers. I am not sure if this is part of their introductory deal or a lifetime thing but, as your list of contacts grow, instead of getting bumped into a higher tier and having to pay even more every month for the life of your email list, you only pay a one time fee of $10 every time you need to add on another 1,000 subscribers. That sure makes growth a little less painful on the wallet!
- Email addresses only count once, no matter how many lists they are on. This is a big one for me because those four mailing lists I mentioned? They have a lot of overlap. And if one of you belonged to The Whine Seller mailing list and my fiction mailing list and my new play notification list (which many of you do and I love you for it!)… MailChimp counted that as three emails towards my quota even though it was all the exact same contact info. But no matter how many lists an address appears on, SendFox only counts it once and I really like that.
- Very simple interface. That’s partially because there really isn’t that much there yet in the way of features but, if you’re just an author or artist running a smaller kind of business, it’s a lot easier to just find what you need without being overwhelmed by options you don’t.
- Easy automation options. They give you two very simple automation options: RSS and Drip-style Automations.
- With the first, input any RSS feed and SendFox will automatically create an email template from every new feed item. I can see this being incredibly useful if you want to email your list the minute you post a new blog post, video or podcast episode. Or hook your product feed up to it and subscribers will get an email every time you list a new product in your store. Hard to make it much easier than that!
- Automations let you set up more complicated scheduled email campaigns. It’s set up to do a Drip-style Welcome and then follow-up push emails and even gives you some templates to make setting your own up very simple but you could also very easily modify this system to use it to deliver something like a free several week course or newsletter. I certainly found this whole process much easier than when I tried to do the same on MailChimp!
What I don’t like about SendFox
- Very limited subscriber data. SendFox only allows you to input a subscriber’s First Name, Last Name and Email. That’s it and I can see it being plenty for a lot of businesses and artists but, for me, it’s not enough. My email list of producers that have done my plays, for example, includes their full address, the name of their organization (because I often have more than one contact in a single production company) and what plays of mine they have performed. Not only did this make it easy for me to target subscribers from a certain production company or just in a specific geographical region, it also allowed me to both tailor my emails to exactly what play they did and include that data in my merge fields to personalize the email. In moving my subscribers to SendFox, now all that extra data and the targeting it offered me is just gone.
- Lists are unwieldy, would work better with tags or segments. Remember what I said above about how you can include the same email address on multiple lists and it only counts once? That’s good from a subscriber count standpoint but the actual list system itself is downright silly. The only way you can organize your subscribers is through lists and it’s not as simple as checking off a list of subscribers and assigning them like you would in MailChimp. No, every time you want to include a subscriber on a list, you have to re-add them to that list. As in, literally upload that contact info again to create that segment. So if I have a person who has performed my play Goosed! and wants to be notified of new play opportunities and also signed up manually, I have to upload that same subscriber three times to get them on all three of those lists. That’s really ridiculous and unwieldy already even with my small lists. I can’t imagine how people with massive lists manage. It would be so much easier to be able to just tag individual subscribers with as many things as you needed upon upload as MailChimp lets you do.
- No good way to view all subscribers. You can view everyone in any given list… but that’s it. If you want to see every single person on your list, there is no way to view that. It’s annoying.
- Bare bones email creation. Their email creation window doesn’t have many more features than your standard email program does. A standard WYSIWYG editor to do basic HTML, the ability to merge in the sender’s name and email, your social links and… that’s it. No templates or anything fancy. And, in a lot of ways, this is a plus. Studies show that plain emails often yield as many conversions as fancy formatted ones anyway and it’s a heck of a lot easier to compose an email than dealing with MailChimp where sometimes you backspace a typo and the whole font changes on half of it and you’re sitting there like, “Good lord, what just happened?” and you gotta redo everything and waste time getting it look normal again. I will not miss that. But I do miss little things like being able to add my latest blog posts with a click or make a recurring banner ad for the side of the message.
(I didn’t send a message to my list yet so I can’t speak to the stats and whatever else they offer after send.)
New and (to be) Improved?
Not gonna to lie, once I poked around in SendFox, a lot of my enthusiasm for it waned. That said, they are less than a year old and I would expect them to start adding features and tweaking things as they go. Hopefully, most of the issues above will disappear as they develop and refine the project.
So is their special introduction deal worth it? It’s hard to say. Depending on your business, SendFox might be exactly what you need right now, particularly if your list isn’t complicated. If you’re an indie author, an artist or a small business owner who just needs to get messages out to fans, customers, and readers, it’s probably ideal for you.
For me, if they give us better ways to organize our lists and include more subscriber data in the coming weeks, that would be enough for me to say emphatically, yes, it is absolutely worth it. But, as the service is right now, it doesn’t meet any of my needs so it’s useless to me. Maybe I will be able to look back in a year’s time and say, wow, they really improved this and I’m so glad I got in on the ground floor with that great price! Or they might never develop it more than it is right now and I will have wasted $49 dollars. Unfortunately, the return window to get your money back is only 60 days so it’s a gamble: do you buy now to lock in that limited time introductory price and trust they’ll work the kinks out later? Or do you look at it at face value and say I can’t use this as it is now so it’s not worth it at any price?
For me, because SendFox is backed by AppSumo, I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt and stick around. The good thing about this lifetime upgrade is that I can always come back to this service later when they (hopefully) developed something that better fits my needs. And I really do hope they come through because I would love to never have to pay a monthly fee for my mail marketing ever again.
(Why does every email marketing service have to be like [Word Related to Mail] [Random Animal]. MailChimp. SendFox. What’s next? EnvelopeWalrus? StampSloth? PostalSlug? When will the madness end, I ask you?)