Implementing effective Email Marketing is essential if you’re going to successfully promote your business. After a sticky website, an email newsletter should be the next weapon in your marketing arsenal.
At some point, your email marketing list will reach a point where you are unable to manage it efficiently through mail services like Gmail or Outlook. So, rather than waiting for that day to come be proactive and find a commercial email marketing service. There are a large number of email marketing providers available and they all have similar service offerings. So how do you go about choosing the best one for your company? What steps should you take after choosing a provider? These are the questions we set out to answer today.
Choosing an Email Marketing Provider
Step 1: Compare the Prices of various email marketing companies.
Most services start with a monthly base rate and then charge additional fees once the number of emails in your subscriber list exceeds a certain number. This tends to be the norm, however, there is always someone willing to break the norm. In this case, it’s a company called Mailchimp.
Mailchimp actually offers a “Forever Free” plan so long as your subscriber list is less than 2,000 and you send fewer than 12,000 emails per month. We recommend this solution to all small businesses who are just starting to grow their database of customers.
If you are, or have in the past, been actively growing your database, the above described plan will likely not suit your needs. In this case, comparing the prices of the various services is your first step.
Step 2: Check for contracts
After determining the price point you are willing to pay for the service, find out the details of the service agreement. Some service providers require clients to commit to a certain period of service in order to take advantage of their service at a special price point, while others require no contract at all. However, the existence or lack of a contract does not necessarily guarantee a better service experience or feature offering.
Step 3: Compare the features
Once you have determined the financial and contractual parameters you want in your service provider it’s time to review the features they provide. Most email marketing providers out there have a very similar feature offering that includes: HTML messages, Plain Text messages, Templates, double Opt-in, Segmented Distribution List, Social Media Integration, Image Hosting and Analytics/Reporting tools. Most of these features are standard across providers, but I feel that it’s the Image Hosting and Analytics/Reporting tools that set providers apart from each other.
Images play a key role in allowing an email to engage its readers so it’s vital that your provider has the ability and hosting space to allow you to carry-out multimedia campaigns. Of the top 16 email marketing providers Image hosting is typically between 5MB and 25MB. Some providers actually do offer more, but in many cases consumers’ inboxes only allow emails up to 25MB.
Now for the most important feature any business should look towards when implementing email marketing: Analytics/Reporting tools. You are literally wasting time if you can’t track the effectiveness of your campaigns and measure the returns. You analyze and optimize your website right? Then, shouldn’t the same go for your email marketing campaigns. You will want your provider to offer the ability to track core metrics such as email opening rate, clicks, and bounces; conversions and revenue, and make comparisons between past campaign performances. With the ability to track these metrics you should now be able to test, target and optimize campaigns based on parameters like opened emails, forwards, unsubscribed contacts, and clicks. The ability to analyze and optimize your email marketing campaign will be the most key factor in conducting long term successful email marketing campaigns.
Step 4: Implementation
Now, that you have decided on a service provider it’s time to put your email marketing plan into action. Below you will find 5 short bullets that we like to follow when conducting email marketing:
- Create your newsletter template: For those with no web design experience, this can be done using one of the 100’s of templates your provider will provide. If stock templates turn you off, consider contacting a web services company to design a custom template based off your brand. Being a web design agency in Louisville, we at DBS obviously prefer to create a template for our clients.
- Determine Frequency and Reach of Communication: We would recommend at least sending a monthly newsletter. However, you could test different messages across segments of your distribution list or push different promotions to various demographics of your customer base.
- Actively Develop Quality Content: Be consistent in your messages and their delivery. Routinely push new and meaningful content for users, target specific email list groups with specialized content, and use social media to announce new newsletters or promotional opportunities.
- Analyze and Optimize: Analyze all core metrics regarding current email marketing initiatives, compare your results to results of past campaigns, and continually tweak future campaigns to achieve your overall Email Marketing goals.
Next week, we’ll touch on some of the more specific best practices for managing and creating an Email marketing campaign. Be sure to check back.