If there’s something that works 100% even after years and years of changes, it’s email marketing. But how do you add this to your business? Do you focus only on email marketing or what else should you think about.
I can’t tell you how to run your business but I can give you advice on what to look for when choosing an email marketing service.
Basically you have two main options when opting for email marketing. You can start sending the emails using your servers or choose a paid service to do so. Each has its own drawbacks and it really depends on the size of your business and email list.
What I mean by this?
Let’s say you have a wordpress site for a local community or a group of people, under 500. If you only use email marketing for communicating with that known group of people, using a newsletter plugin is totally fine. Other than that, when you use your private servers for email marketing, you can easily get blacklisted and your emails will end up in SPAM folders in no time.
Small businesses with a mailing list of under 2,000 emails can use free services such as Mailchimp to deliver their emails.
But the rest… should probably use an external email marketing service.
I won’t start talking about each and every email marketing website out there but I’m going to focus on what you should be looking for when choosing such a service for your business.
What should you look for when choosing an email service provider?
Let’s say you created our email list and want to start sending out newsletters right away. What service should you choose? What should you focus on? What are some factors you need to take into consideration?
Here’s what I think you should look for in an email service provider.
Cost vs. Scalability.
Don’t just go for the cheapest email marketing service you find. When consulting with my clients I always tell them to have a plan for their email list. Do they want to grow it? If yes, when? These should be reflected in making the right choice.
You may have 500 subscribers now, but what about in 3 to 6 months. What are the prices for bigger email lists? Would it still be profitable or would you have to change the provider?
Try to see things in terms of scalability. Your business has to be healthy and grow. This will also happen to your email list.
Another thing you need to think about before choosing an email marketing service is their features regarding your list’s contacts. What can you do with the list? If I were to point out some things related to contact management you should watch out for I would say to look out for:
- Contact list options (Import, export, manage contacts with ease).
- Making groups of contacts (creating segments, adding tags).
- Ease of use (At one time you may want to switch the person who manages your email marketing service. If it’s clunky and hard to understand, you will have a big delay in sending out the emails).
One, if not the most important factor you should watch for is what you can actually send with that email marketing service. If they don’t allow you do add links to some websites? What formatting options are there?
A good email marketing provider will have some kind of wizard to help you choose from email templates and solid formatting options. You should be able to add links, images and format your text with ease. The option to view and edit HTML versions should also be available.
Another important thing about email content creation is the ability to create templates. You can use these for recurring events or just as you please. Other important features: auto responder messages, mobile friendly and the possibility of A/B testing.
Sending out the emails and reports.
After you were able to create an amazing newsletter to send to your email list(s), you should also be able to send that with ease. Some services offer the possibility of viewing the content of the newsletter as a HTML page, you can use this to re-share your content on Social Networks.
Basically, a good email marketing service should provide you with comprehensive reports that are easy to read and interpret. This will help you see how your email marketing strategy is progressing and it makes it easy to bring that data into meetings.
These reports should point out any complaints or unsubscribed people. This will allow you to see if you need to apply some changes to your email marketing strategy. Comparing newsletters reports is another great thing to have.
Support level and Help docs.
Some email marketing providers have problems when dealing with a lot of clients – they don’t allocate enough manpower to their help department and things start to go wrong.
A good email marketing service should have a big section filled with help articles so you may find answers to almost any issue you may encounter and if that doesn’t work, the support system should be well built with individuals providing the right answers.
You may think this is not that important but imagine having a problem and not having anyone to solve it. Maybe something goes wrong with your account, emails get lost, you’re account access is forbidden, etc.
Having a solid support system is not a commodity but a necessity.