White Label Bulk Email Providers

What I was trying to achieve

As a web developer in the DFW area, I’ve been getting lots and lots of requests from my small business clients to do email marketing. I’ve been handling those clients myself using a piece of Windows based bulk email software called Groupmail and my own email server, but the maintenance has grown beyond my capabilities.

Rather than host the service myself, I started looking around for bulk email services that I could re-brand and resell to my clients. I would help my customers with copywriting, html services, etc., and I would apply a reasonable markup to the product.

Definitions for this report

White label bulk email provider: A bulk email service that makes an effort to conceal their own brand from all but the most technically savvy end customers. Major stumbling blocks in providing a true white label solution were:

  • Unsubscribe URLs,
  • Individual account management URLs,
  • And mail server “from” domain names.

Footer: CAN-SPAM requirements dictate that bulk email should provide a way for recipients to opt-out of future communication, and should also include a physical address for the sender. This is most often accomplished with a few lines of text at the end of the message.


As an after-thought to writing this article, I decided to add a ratings system. I scored each provider on a scale of 1-5 based on their white label capabilities, their overall pricing, and their ease of use (including web sites, customer service, and responsiveness). Scores in each category were then totaled for a possible 15 points.

It is important to note, however, that I am trying to achieve a very specific goal with these bulk email providers. I want to be able to act as a middle man for their services, maintain a healthy profit margin, and interact with their systems on my customers’ behalf. My ratings system is based on the needs I am addressing for myself and is not applicable to other ways that these products could be used.

What I told the email marketing companies

In order to judge the companies on equal footing, I had to establish a baseline for requesting information. Nothing is simpler than the truth, so I gave the same details to all of the companies I called.

I run a web development firm located in Dallas, TX. I’ve been getting a lot of requests for email marketing and would like to contract with a provider that can offer white label email marketing services that I can re-brand and resell to my clients. Top concerns are price and true white labeling capabilities (custom unsubscribe urls, generic client login pages, etc.). Most of my customers will be small businesses with between 1000 and 2000 email addresses on their lists and will probably send out one to two times a month.

The reviews


URL: http://www.emailbrain.com
Product: Reseller Agencies

250 – yearly for footer re-branding
250 – yearly URL masking
20,000 minimum – $323/6 months (rates published on their site).


I really liked emailbrain – they had almost everything I was looking for in a white label bulk email provider. I was a little disappointed that they were charging annual fees for the footer re-branding and the URL masking, but I could live with it if I had to. Their web site was also very intuitive to navigate. If I couldn’t find better pricing, they would definitely be at the top of my list.


White label/Pricing/Ease of Use Ratings: 5/4/5
Overall: 14 of 15


URL: http://www.icontact.com/
Product: Agency Edition
Pricing: 250 setup fee plus negotiated bulk per email rate.


iContact stands above most of the other bulk email providers because of their pricing model and the usability of their web site. So far as pricing is concerned, the $250 one-time setup fee is minimal and the bulk per-email send rate is excellent, even with the relatively low volume I was projecting. I found their web site highly intuitive and their only major competition was emailbrain.

Where iContact is a little lacking is in their white label re-branding. Aside from cost, my biggest concern in this business is that a customer will bypass my service and contract directly with my supplier if they find out who I’m going with. iContact does not make use of footer re-branding or domain masking to white label their product, but they do offer a co-branded solution.


White label/Pricing/Ease of Use Ratings: 3/5/5
Overall: 13 of 15


URL: http://www.myemma.com
Product: Emma Agency

Setup charge – private label setup 1500.00 includes Agency setup plus one account
25% off the published per email rate or better
One time 100.00 setup fee for new accounts.
.0225 per email (50/month minimum)


They were there when I called. Normally not that big of a deal, but if you read the notes from previous companies this is pretty hard to come by!

Interface is a little blah, but the customer service was fantastic and I think they would be helpful and available once accounts were setup. Thanks Theresa!


White label/Pricing/Ease of Use Ratings: 4/3/3
Overall: 10 of 15


URL: http://www.emaillabs.com/
Product: Email Marketing Agency Edition
Pricing: Measured in CPM – Cost Per Thousand emails sent and number of client accounts created.

500/month up to 10,000 emails
625/month up to 25,000 emails
250/month per 10 sub accounts


Thanks to Ken for taking the time to talk to me. Although it looked like EmailLabs has a decent white label solution, I was turned off by the charge for each account. $250 isn’t a lot of money, but not every customer I sign will warrant the cost. What if I want to setup a trial account for someone, or what if I want an account for myself?

Update 11/09/07: After posting this article, EmailLabs contacted me regarding the setup fee for accounts under their agency program. Their per-account-setup pricing is actually 250 for ten accounts which drastically alters my original scoring and comments. I don’t think it’s right to re-write this review since communication was part of the judging criteria, but I also don’t want to post bad information. Here’s a link to the email from EmailLabs clarifying the situation.


White label/Pricing/Ease of Use Ratings: 4/2/3
Overall: 9 of 15


URL: http://email.exacttarget.com
Product: Agency Partnership
Pricing: Pricing unavailable – by quote only. There was some reference made to the purchase of a “licenses” which I assume means that I will have to pay a per-client fee in addition to an actual cost per email. The only pricing I was able to walk away with was 2 licenses – 5000/year, but I don’t have nearly enough information about what that figure will buy.


ExactTarget was difficult to nail down on almost every aspect. I didn’t get the impression that they were designed for resellers, but rather for “the big boys” of marketing. If you’re a company like Travelocity and want to handle your email marketing in-house but don’t want to maintain your own hardware, these guys might be for you. It sounded like each setup would be unique to the customer, hence all the information gathering before price quotes. While this might mean excellent customer service for the larger companies, it also means that I would probably be hanging on hold or waiting for my sales rep to call me back while they handled bigger fish.


White label/Pricing/Ease of Use Ratings: 5/1/2
Overall: 7 of 15


URL: http://www.bluehornet.com
Product: Possible white label program – not sure because the answering service had limited information.
Pricing: 3500 setup fee plus 350/customer and 500/month for up to 100,000 emails.


I initially reached an answering service that asked a LOT of questions about how I run my business (volume, location, etc.) and said “someone will contact you on Tuesday”. I thought to myself “Awesome – when they call on Tuesday I’ll tell them who I went with.”

I did finally get a call back from Mike in the sales department with some pricing. I found out if you tell the operator “I’m making buying decisions today,” you get a faster response.


White label/Pricing/Ease of Use Ratings: 2/2/2
Overall: 6 of 15


URL: http://www.verticalresponse.com/
Product: VerticalResponse for Partners
Pricing: ala carte style

1000 setup fee
500 to link multiple accounts together
300 for shared credits
300-500? for domain branding
300 annual renewal fee


I spoke to Nick in the sales department, who said that pricing per email was the same as on the web site. Emails are sent from vertical response URLs, so there’s an issue with white label re-branding. They have whitelabled the sending for few clients, but it’s a specialty setup procedure, and the sales operator wasn’t sure they were offering it as an option any longer. I seriously doubt it would be a simple proces.


White label/Pricing/Ease of Use Ratings: 2/2/1
Overall: 5 of 15

Cooler Email

URL: http://www.cooleremail.com


When I called the operator tried REALLY hard to get me to email them rather than talk to them. That was weird. Everyone was busy, so I’ll have to wait for a call back.

Someone did call me back later in the day, but they had to refer my agency questions to someone else and have them call me back.


White label/Pricing/Ease of Use Ratings: 0/0/0
Overall: 0 of 15


URL: http://www.responsys.com/


Sales Department was unavailable during business hours


White label/Pricing/Ease of Use Ratings: 0/0/0
Overall: 0 of 15

Constant Contact

URL: http://www.constantcontact.com


Sales Department was unavailable during business hours


White label/Pricing/Ease of Use Ratings: 0/0/0
Overall: 0 of 15

10 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

E-mail marketing is a tricky subject with so many people abusing it these days, but it’s becoming such a vital part of business that it can’t be ignored. Here are ten tips that I personally use in my e-mail marketing campaigns that have measurably improved their success:

  1. Avoid HTML style e-mails and attachments whenever possible. Nothing gets a better response for me than a short, to the point, plain-text message.
  2. Be personable. Approach your audience like you would a new friend. People respond best when they’re treated with respect and kindness.
  3. Don’t send messages to anyone who doesn’t want to receive them. Providing an easy way to unsubscribe from your recurring mailer will save you a lot of heartache and angry customers.
  4. Avoid doubletalk and corporate speak – these are major turnoffs for readers. Most people don’t read their own company memos, let alone random press releases from a stranger.
  5. Don’t write too much. Your audience’s time is valuable and you should respect it. If you can’t make your point in five to ten sentences, take it back to the drawing board and try again.
  6. Automate responses. If you have a way for visitors to sign up for your newsletter, why not send them an automated response? Why not two or four? With the right email program, you can schedule a full sales cycle of introduction, explanation of services, special offer and a follow up and have it run completely unattended!
  7. Include a specific call to action. After you make your case or present your offer, don’t forget to ask for the sale! Something as simple as “visit our website now for 15% off this product” can mean the difference between success or failure.
  8. Avoid unnecessary punctuation and capitalization. YOU DON’T WANT TO END UP IN THE READER’S JUNK MAILBOX!!!
  9. Provide something of value to your audience. Give them a reason to stay on your mailing list other than “buy my product.” Offer helpful advice, discounts, or something of value that they will look forward to.
  10. Personalize your emails whenever possible. I found that an email that starts out with “Dear firstname,” will be on average 15-30% more effective than a generic message.
  11. Back up your emails with a web site. There’s nothing worse than getting your customer fired up from an email without having an outlet to learn more. Always direct your customer back to your web site for more information or to close an immediate sale! (Yes, I know this is #11 in my ten point list, but it was too important to leave out.)

HTML vs. Plain Text Newsletters

I recently received a newsletter from one of my professional contacts that’s not in the online marketing business. He had chosen an html format newsletter instead of using plain text. I’ve posted the results below so you can get an idea how his carefully crafted marketing message (the one that represents his business) looked to me.

html newsletter

If you’re doing an online newsletter html can work for you, but you have to be careful. Use in-line CSS and a limited number of images to reduce the annoying X’s. Here’s an example from one of my own sites to show you what I mean.

Personally though, I highly recommend using plain text instead of html. It’s less eye catching, but it’s also less likely to get caught in a spam filter or ignored as an advertisement. For myself, I’ll read anything pertinent and interesting to me – whether it’s written in html or not, and I give my audience the same consideration.

Get Email Read Notifications

If you’ve ever wondered whether that all important email you sent got to where it was intended, look no further!

The good people at Danifer Web Services (a web publishing firm based out of Dallas, Texas) have released DeliveryConfirm.com, an online read receipt utility, to alert you when your messages have been read. DeliveryConfirm is a simple online utility that you can use to create and send email, and get a notification when it has been read.

Online Read Receipts from DeiveryConfirm.com

The trick is that instead of sending the whole message, you send just a brief summary and DeliveryConfirm includes a special link and password. In order for your recipient to read the whole message and get any attachments, they have to follow the link and use the password. As soon as they do, you get an alert telling you that your message has been accessed.

It’s a surprisingly simple utility with a wide range of uses. Although it was developed for the freight forwarding industry, I could see it as an effective solution for any business that needs to know whether their emails are getting to the right place.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you check it out today.

SignatureConfirm.com – Online Signature Tool

The latest in our series on Web 2.0 projects includes SignatureConfirm.com. It’s an online signature utility designed to allow individual the ability to draft and send their own agreements and contracts via email where they can be digitally signed.

Online signature utility

The concept is not new, and you’ve probably accepted the terms of service or agreed to a company’s conditions online before when signing up for a new service. The aim of SignatureConfirm it seems is to allow individuals the same convenience and utility when they might not otherwise be able to incorporate it into their own website.

At the very least, this concept eliminates the need for an individual to create a contract, fax or email it as a .pdf, have the signing part review it, and wait for them to sign and send it back.

With SignatureConfirm, the online signature process is a fast as an email response.

How it Works.

This part is pretty straightforward (which I like). The site isn’t trying to be a one stop solution for everything, but rather seems to focus on doing one thing and doing it well. This is an approach that I really appreciate in my online applications!

  1. Sign up for a free account,
  2. Type in or cut and paste the language of the contract you want signed,
  3. Send via email to the recipient,
  4. They get an encrypted URL and password that they can use to access the agreement (they don’t have to sign up for an account which is nice),
  5. They can view the agreement as you typed it and can choose to digitally sign it.
  6. Both parties receive confirmation emails during each step of the process and both the signed and unsigned contracts are available for download in .pdf format.

All in all, a good solution if you’re needing to collect online signatures and I can think of dozens of smaller and individual companies that could use it to streamline their contracts process.