In a previous post, we discussed common email marketing mistakes that small businesses make with their email marketing. Today we are going to cover some best practices for email ads and newsletters for your business.
Affordable Email Newsletter Programs and Services for Small Business
I know that in today’s economy, every business owner is watching the bottom line and if your company does not already have an email campaign integrated into your marketing plan, it may not seem like now is the time to add another expense. However, as you are reading over the options for starting an email campaign, I want you to keep in mind and compare the costs to the same effort if you were sending it by direct mail (design, printing, and mailing.)
Step 1: Choosing an Email Platform
An email mailing platform will allow you to compose your email and then will automatically merge it with your mailing list. As each email to each subscriber is mailed individually, the chance that your email will be caught in a spam filter is much lower.
There are two types of options for a platform: self hosted and subscription based services.
Self Hosted Email Software
With a self hosted version, you obtain the email software, install it on your own web server, and then create your list(s) and send the emails.
Pros: There are no restrictions or additional charges for the number of lists and/or subscribers.
Cons: Installation and maintenance of the platform itself requires expertise. Mailing capabilities could possibly be limited by email restrictions of the site host.
Self Hosted Solutions:
- PHPList: A stand alone open source solution; however, it is not the most user friendly.
- Interspire: commercial platform
- Add on components to CMS platforms such as Acajoom for Joomla, Civimail for CiviCRM on Drupal, or SugarCRM’s email campaigns.
Subscription Based Services:
There are countless email subscription services out there. A few things you want to look at when comparing services are:
- The monthly subscription price.
- How many lists are allowed at each pricing level.
- If the sender can be change for the mailing and/or for each list.
- The pricing levels per subscriber
- If the list owner can add subscribers or if the subscriber has to opt in on their own.
- The reporting and statistics available.
- The subscription process: does it look seamless to the end user.
- Are both lists and autoresponders (preset sequential mailings) available?
- What effort does the company providing the service take to ensure the sending IP addresses are not blacklisted?
- What is the service’s delivery rate?
As I said, there are many email marketing services available. Here are a few of the more popular ones:
- Aweber: the email service of choice for many internet marketers
- Constant Contact: an easy-to-use service used by both email marketing newbies and experienced users. Try it FREE for 60-Days.
- iContact: Provides a Fully-Loaded Product at an Affordable Price. Click here to start your free trial now!
- Get Response: GetResponse’s competitive advantage is offering a turn key solution for email marketing including email templates, custom field options, autoresponders, and tracking.
Other Tools: DeliveryWatch allows self email publishers to measure the success of their email campaignby tracking the deliverability rate.
Step 2: Create Your Email Template
The next step in getting your email marketing campaign off the ground is to get your email newsletter template created. If you have signed up with a subscription service, generic HTML email templates will be available and most also offer the ability to use an HTML email template that has been custom designed for your business.
Creating an HTML based email is different from designing a web site as well as different from creating a flyer in Word. Each email client and web based email service renders HTML based email slightly different (Microsoft Outlook 2007 being the biggest offender.) So specific guidelines must be followed when designing for email.
When setting up an email campaign for my clients, I like to create an email design that complements the business’s other identity pieces to continue the branding.
Once you have the template set up you can reuse it again and again, changing only the current message.
Step 3: Compile Your Email List
Once you have your service and email template set up, the next step is to compile the list of your email subscribers. Most email services allow you to import a list; however, you will need to check on the required format.
Normally, this is done by creating an Excel file with a each subscriber on a row and each field for the subscriber in a separate table cell. The file is then saved as a CSV file, and then imported into the email platform.
In order to maximize the distribution of your newsletter, integrate a newsletter sign up box on your web site and provide a link to the newsletter in your signature on all of your outgoing emails.
Step 4: Plan Your Email Campaign
Now that you are set and ready to go, it is time to integrate your email newsletter schedule into your marketing campaign.
Need help starting an email marketing campaign for your business? Contact Carla at Legacy Marketing Services today at 281-305-9157 for a free consultation.