You might be surprised to learn that email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing mediums out there. But according to the results of one study, 44 percent of email recipients made a purchase as a result of receiving a promotional email. What would have happened if they didn’t get that email? They would have bought something else or nothing at all, but that retailer probably wouldn’t have gotten the sale.
Fortunately, there are many tools available that make it easy for even the smallest businesses to send enticing and effective emails to their customer base.
Here are 10 steps for choosing the right one from the many available email marketing programs.
1. Evaluate Your Mailing List
How many people are you going to be mailing to? A small list isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as it’s a list of customers or targeted prospects. But your list size will have an impact on this decision. A larger list may cost more to manage with any program, but of course, it should be expected to return worthy results.
2. Segment Your List
Will you send the same email to every person? Does that make sense for your business? If you’re like most companies, large and small, you’ll want to segment your list into a minimum of two categories: buyers and prospects. Those who have bought from you before and those who are likely to make a purchase. Many people find that segmenting the list further allows for a more targeted message, which results in a better open rate. If you have one or more segments, you’ll want to make sure you’re looking at email marketing services that can handle segmentation well.
3. Determine When You Will Send Emails
A quick look at any email marketing software comparison and you’ll see that almost every program allows for scheduling. That makes this step easy, but you should still know the best time of day to send emails to your audience. It varies by industry. According to Constant Contact support, your emails may have a better chance of being opened when sent between 8 – 10 a.m. or 4 – 6 p.m.
4. Outline Email Content and Frequency
How customized would you like to get with your message? Some email programs offer greater customization with more merge fields, so you can draft an email once and auto-input your customers’ information to make it appear like you just wrote them a personalized message. Constant Contact and Campaigner are both good options for customizing emails.
5. Consider Text vs. HTML
Most programs can handle text and HTML versions of emails, but if you’re interested in HTML, you’ll probably want to choose a provider that makes it easy to send a text and an HTML version in just a click of a button. If you’re unsure, check email marketing software reviews. Customers will always give their honest opinion on things like ease of use. Just be sure the reviews you’re using to make a decision are current. Search for email marketing software reviews of 2014.
6. Evaluate Available Options
Now that you have some idea of what you need in an email blast program, it’s time to see what’s out there. It isn’t always easy to compare, but email marketing solutions and reviews will help narrow down the best choice from the many available options. A list of your most important features will also help ensure you don’t get sidetracked by good graphics and fancy features that you don’t really need.
7. Define Metrics for Success
Just like any other form of marketing, it’s important to set goals and track success in an email marketing campaign. Although it is a relatively inexpensive medium, there is still a cost involved, and it is amplified when you include the cost of your time. So, be sure to define success. It may be a good open rate percentage or clickthrough rate. Again, what is “good” varies by industry, so you’ll need to do a little research to find your benchmark for success. Also, be sure to choose a program that offers robust analytics, much like Campaigner. This will make your job much easier. And if you’re planning to integrate your email marketing campaign with other marketing efforts, it will be helpful to work with a program that supports this. Constant Contact is known for its ability to seamlessly integrate into other types of campaigns.
8. Compare Pricing vs. Services
If you’re lucky, you’ll find three or four services that meet your individual needs. In this case, it’ll come down to price. Pricing isn’t always a black and white issue, though. One program may be the same price as another but charge extra for some features or for bulk emails. Evaluate how much each service will cost based on how you will be using it.
9. Test Drive Your Options
Many programs offer a free email marketing software download and trial. Go ahead and take advantage of this! You may not be able to send an email out to your complete list, or you may have to test a campaign to an audience of friends and family, but at least you’ll get a feel for how the system works. Alternatively, you may find that the best option for you is an all-the-time free open source email marketing system. Still, give it a test drive before committing. Is the system user-friendly and easy to navigate? Does it deliver on its promises? How do the emails look when they come through? Were they all delivered?
10. Choose the Best Email Blast Software for You
By now you should have a very narrow list that may only include one email delivery software. That’s great …because you only need one! If you’re still on the fence, choose the one that feels right to you.