Just like a garden only bears fruit if managed properly, so it is with email marketing. We know it can work, but you have to get the basics right. The basics of building a list of people who want to hear from you, crafting a message, and ensuring the emails get through to those on that list. When done correctly, email marketing is a powerful and cost-effective tool that businesses can utilize to:
• Provide a means for direct communication with our customers and for contacting prospects
• Facilitate dialogue with and feed-back from our customers
• Strengthen the relationship with their customers
• Increase lead generation and cross-selling
• Allow for immediate tracking and measuring of our marketing efforts
The thing is, you cannot and should not use your outlook email, gmail or other personal email account to send mass emails. IT WON’T WORK. This is because many email accounts and most (Internet Service Providers) ISPs limit the number of emails that you can send at one time. Further, most ISPs see bulk emailing as spam and have the ability to stop your recipients from receiving your emails altogether.
So if you want to take advantage of email marketing, you need to decide which Email Marketing Solution Provider (EMSP) is best suited for your business needs. There are dozens of providers, offering a large range of features and services and at various price points. Before you pick one, there are…
7 Things to Consider When Choosing an Email Marketing Solution:
- Template Attractiveness
- Social Integration
A good email marketing service will monitor all outgoing email to ensure that all major ISPs and corporate domains are successfully accepting your email. Your EMSP should be able, to tell you which emails were delivered (or not) and why, or why not. If there is a “blip” on the receiver’s end when your email campaign is being sent, your EMSP should make continued attempts to send your email while quickly addressing the problem with the ISP.
Most services offer free or trial plans that give the customer a opportunity to try it for themselves. You may find that some of the platforms are easier to use than others for your specific business needs.
When you begin with an EMS, you need to be able to access customer service when you are getting started and as you continue to use the service. Some services offer better support than others. Campaigner is one of the only services offering support 24/7. GetResponse offers a phone number, live chat and email for support whereas MailChimp has an email address and contact form for inquiries.
Online resources are just as important as customer service, in my opinion. I really like that MailChimp, iContact have dozens of user friendly tutorial videos and online guides to get you started or for when you want to try out a new feature. Most of the other EMSP have a “Learning Center” with similar content, but I really like they way MailChimp and iContact have implemented them.
Cost varies between each provider. MailChimp offers the best free plan with up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Prices range from $10/month with Campaigner for 1,000 emails/month and Constant Contacts has $155 /month for up to 25,000 subscribers.
Before selecting a provider, you will want to determine how many emails/month you intent to send and to how many subscribers. This will help you decide which service and plan is best for your needs.
5. Template Attractiveness
Most all EMS providers offer HTML templates to make email creation easy by eliminating the need for any HTML skill. Templates are pre-formatted to help you organize your content. They include appropriate fonts, colors and placeholders for graphics and company logos that are easily customized to create a look that matches your company’s website or brand.
For the technically savvy marketer, many services (Mail Chimp, Campaigner, icontact and Vertical Response) also allow for complete customization of an email campaign in HTML or XHTML.
6. Social Integration
With social integration, you can add Facebook Like buttons, Twitter Retweet, Google Buzz and more directly into your email campaigns to increase the chances of your email newsletter going viral and reaching a larger audience and drawing in more email subscribers.Most of the EMS offer social integration free of charge. Constant Contact is one of the few that does not (free for up to 100 fans, $15/month for up to 500… $50/month for up to 10,000 fans).
Advertising, sponsorships, and many other traditional marketing tactics offer few options for measuring the return on your investment. Internet based tactics on the other hand, are instantly trackable. With each online newsletter you send, you’ll want to know how many people opened it; how many links were clicked on; who clicked on which links; and more. Fact-based, real time metrics. Most providers also allow for the implementation of Google Analytics, however, Constant Contact and Campaigner do not.
There are dozens of providers to choose from, and each one offers different pricing structures and features. Take some time to determine what your business needs are and then select a provider accordingly.
If you are a small business with a list under 2,000, I would recommend MailChimp to get you started. It is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. They offer hundreds of templates, custom HTML, unlimited image hosting, google analytics integration, social media integration and more. Once your list grows above 2,000, re-evaluate your needs and look to see if another EMSP will better serve you.