Email Marketing enables you to create professional-looking emails that you can then send to your customers and contacts regularly. The message can be ‘hard-sell’ with links to specific products or offers but it can also be softer sell such as general advice, so you get your brand in front of customers in return for useful information. It is one more digital marketing channel that you should consider along with search engine optimization, social media, pay per click, banner ads and traditional marketing methods such as direct mail, advertising etc. This post highlights what is entailed and the specific services that we provide.
The scalable nature of Email Marketing ensures that everyone, from single entrepreneurs to large businesses, can choose the right Email Marketing system for them. Here are some example business types and how they might use email marketing:
- Bloggers – Alert audience of new posts
- Agencies – Share industry news with clients
- Consultants – Communicate latest news to customers
- Theatres & Galleries – Send details of latest shows and exhibitions
- Web Designers – Share industry trends and promote services
- Restaurants – Inform customers of new dishes
- Developers – Share knowledge and promote latest projects
- Clubs – Promote new club nights and special DJ appearances
- Retailers – Promote products to customers
- Schools – Share pupil achievements and community news
- Salons and Spas – Promote special offers
- Bands – Keep audience informed of latest gigs
- Estate & Letting Agents – Email latest property listings
- Medical Centres – Inform of any service updates or appointment reminders
There are a number of excellent email marketing products on the the market. While they differ in the details of pricing models and specific features here are some of the most important features that are common to all relating to the 3 Ds of Delivery, Design and Data:
Delivery – Send 100s or 100s of thousands of emails (without getting arrested)
To send bulk emails you can mail merge using your email program or, heaven forbid, copying and pasting email addresses into the the CC or BCC fields of your draft email. So why use a paid email marketing service? The Data Protection Act in the UK and similar legislation in other countries mean that you have to handle people’s personal contact information responsibly. That’s why dumping a load of email addresses into the CC field is illegal as other people have access to their contact details. You also need to provide people with a water-tight way of opting out of future communication which is difficult to manage without a specialist application.
A dedicated email marketing will provide the following features:
- Data management – import your contact lists from most common programs such as Excel, Outlook, Access databases, CSV files etc
- Opting out – if someone opts out they will be permanently stored on the system unless they opt back in to your emails
- Personalisation and data merging – Adding a contact’s first name to the email body or the subject is easy but you can also merge and display other data such amount owed on invoices, username reminders, subscription renewal dates etc.
- Good reputation mail delivery – if you use a reputable service then their mail servers will have a good reputation so will get through corporate firewalls and most of the free email account services such as hotmail, gmail and aol.
- Schedule the delivery time in advance – you can schedule the time and date for your email to be sent so you don’t have ‘press the button’. If you have international contact then you could split your list so the email is delivered at the best time.
Design – Professional templates and easy editing
A good email marketing service will let you or your web developer create an attractive, professional looking template that you can reuse for future emails. Often the best systems don’t need any particular technical knowledge to create a new email once the template has been setup. Adding images and moving content elements around the email will be very straightforward. The templates will also be responsive so will display on desktops, mobiles and tablets.
Data – Statistics, analysis and segmentation
When you send an email campaign, the email marketing service will record key pieces of information such the number of opens, the number of clicks, bounces and opt outs.
Delve a little deeper and you can do clever things with your data such as isolating the number of people who have clicked on a particular link and then sending a relevant offer based on their interest. This list segmentation can be a very powerful tool for focusing your marketing efforts and tailoring the message to the recipient’s interests. Information on bounces and the all-important Opt-outs will help you improve your data quality and ensuring your email messaging remains relevant. A sudden increase in Opt outs or lower open rate would indicate that your email message is annoying or irrelevant to the recipients.
Email marketing services
There are a number of email marketing services available which operate on a commercial or free model for base level use with a subscription for additional services. The two market leaders are Mail Chimp and Constant Contact:
Constant Contact – this is a US based subscription only service with 0ver 650,000 subscribers. The monthly fee is based on the number of contacts you have stored on the system and you can send as many emails as you like. For example a contact list of up to 500 costs $20 a month, with another $5 for image storage. More on Constant Contact pricing.
Mail Chimp – This has a massive user base with 4 million customers. There is a free for ever subscription as long as the number of contacts stays below 2000 and you don’t send more than 12 000 emails per month. Once you’re past either of these limits then for example a contact list of 1001 to 1500, for unlimited emails costs $20 per month. More on Mail Chimp pricing.
We normally offer Constant Contact and Mail Chimp accounts to our clients. We can design and setup templates and train you how to use the systems. We can also integrate the systems with your website so enquirers go directly into your contacts lists etc. Alternatively we can manage the whole dispatch process for you and provide relevant data.
See these articles for a comprehensive user guide on email marketing services: