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Choose Your Email Marketing Software Wisely

September 26, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Dejan Bizinger asked:

Successful online business can’t be led without email marketing. Many people know that it is very important to have a web site but having a web site is only one step in creating successful online presence. You have to stay in touch with your clients and prospects. You need to have a two way communication with your clients and prospects and best way to do this is to have an email newsletter. To send emails to your customer you need the right email marketing software.

Choosing your email marketing software is one of the most important steps you have to take in e-business. What are those necessary steps in choosing email marketing software?

Free or fee-based

The first thing you will have to decide in choosing software for your email campaigns will be whether you want to use free or fee based software. Some people may say: “There is much free software on the Internet. Why would I pay for email marketing software?” This is because some people still don’t have a habit to buy things on the Internet, especially non-tangible items such are software and services. Many people still don’t realize the power of email marketing so they think that can be satisfied with a free service.

One of the most famous contemporary economists, a Nobel Prize winner Mr. Milton Friedman said that there is no such thing like free launch. And there is another statement that says “You get what you pay for”. I usually agree with these two statements. These have been proven on many examples, especially on the Internet.

You can choose to use free software for email marketing but you will be limited for some more advanced options. Some big portals offer free services for creating groups. This is OK, but in this case you will send your email messages without many important features like personalization, email tracking, sending SMS, using CSV files etc. I don’t have to mention that many “free” email marketing software providers will include their ads in your email newsletter. I guess that you don’t want that in your business email communication.

Some other free software like the free version of Group Mail will have limitation on the number of subscribers per one session. In this case you will be able to send your email newsletter to 100 subscribers at once and in paid version to unlimited number of subscribers and create unlimited number of lists.

It is recommended that you use fee-based email marketing software for your business email campaigns. However, you always have to look for a provider who offers a free trial, as well.

Important features

You have to check if your email service provider offers these several important features.

1)Personalization – personalization is one of the most important things that email marketing software has to provide. With good personalization you will have better open rates and click-thru rates. Some more advanced email marketing software like Group Mail paid version offers if-then personalization for users who want to get the maximum personalization.

2)Monitoring – email marketing is popular and useful because results can be measured very effectively. You have to ask your email service provider if their product offers ability for detailed reports for open rates, click-thru rates, deliverability…If their main product doesn’t offer that it is important that they offer additional service that can be easily integrated with their main product.

3)Scalability – one of the main features of modern software is scalability. At this moment you might need software that will be able to send 1,000 emails at once but in 3 years your membership base can be 5,000. Will your software be able to handle that?

4)Creating HTML newsletters – HTML newsletters have better response rates than email newsletters in plain-text format so this is also another thing you have to consider in choosing your email marketing software. Without sending your email newsletter in HTML you won’t be able to do email tracking.

5)Integration with existing applications and databases – your email marketing software has to offer you ability to import data from existing applications and databases like SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Access, FoxPro and Excel. Also, it is very useful that it can be integrated with popular email clients like MS Outlook.

6)International Character Support – Online businesses have to have a global focus so it is useful that email marketing software provides support for International Characters.

7)Plug-ins and updates – it is very important that the email service provider constantly works on creating useful plug-ins and updates in order to make your work easier and more effective.

8)Technical support -If you are an average Internet user without technical knowledge you will probably want to get support for your software. How good is your email service provider when it comes to technical support?

Desktop email software vs. Hosted ASP

Now when you know do you want free or fee-based software and what to look in your email marketing software you have to decide do you want to have desktop email marketing software or so called Hosted ASP. Both types have limitations and advantages. You have to choose the best option for you.

Desktop email software like Group Mail Plus, one of the leading desktop email marketing software, has several very big advantages. The most important is that details of your subscribers are kept private and secure on your own computer. Dot com crash is not so far behind us. Imagine that you have several thousand clients and use web based service from a company that will later go out of business. You can only imagine how that could affect your business and credibility! With Group Mail Plus you can manage an unlimited number of groups with unlimited number of recipients in each. You will have a larger initial investment than with Hosted ASP which charge a monthly fee, but you will a full control of your email campaigns and after some time of using your software you will repay it.

With Hosted ASP you will usually have a lower initial investment. You don’t have to buy hardware and software. However, price is usually determined by the number of emails you send so you will pay more how your membership base gets bigger so this option will be much more expensive than a desktop email marketing software option in the long run.

You can see that choosing the right email marketing software is very important. You have to bear in mind that the biggest investment is one that it is paid – twice. So, choose your email marketing software wisely

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Why Use Email Marketing?

September 23, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Teajai Kimsey asked:

In 1867 the Pony Express made its fastest delivery – 7 days and 17 hours. The route: St. Joseph Missouri to Sacramento California. The average speed: 10 miles per hour.

The message was President Lincoln’s Inaugural Address.

The riders were from 11 to 40 years old and all weighed less than 125 lbs. To make this delivery, horses had to be changed every 10 to 15 miles.

By contrast, the US Postal Service delivery now takes at least a day, longer the farther away from the destination, Federal Express can get it there overnight by 10am the next business day.

Chances are many of you will leave this meeting and go back to your office where you will open an email that was sent from across the nation, maybe even around the globe within a matter of minutes. Only a fax machine can compare to the speed of email.

The simple truth is that of the 94 Million American Adults that use the internet every day, the number one reason for going online is to check their email. According to a DoubleClick survey, 81% of internet users go online daily to check email. That’s too big a number to ignore.

Why is email so popular?

Because it’s easy, fast, cheap, direct and it elicits and immediate response. When you add email to your marketing mix you spend less time, money and resources than with traditional marketing vehicles like direct mail or print advertising.

From a marketing standpoint, email was initially primarily used for gaining new customers – often via spam techniques. It has since shifted to promotional and customer relationship marketing.

Consumers expect emails to confirm transactions and shipping, and they are open to the ideas of their email addresses being used to promote ancillary offers.

Customer service is another area of opportunity for email.

According to an October 2004 Doubleclick survey, nearly 8 out of 10 consumers have used email for customer service. A consumer expects a service inquiry response immediately but up to 24 hours is acceptable.

More than that, businesses spend 80% of their marketing budget on gaining new customers but cultivating the current customer base costs less and generates greater revenue. Every email contact with a prospect or customer is a marketing opportunity in that is it a brand building and relationship building tool.

So what is the difference between an effective email marketing campaign and one that is tainted?

The email recipient is the sole decision maker of what constitutes spam. And the recipient pays for the email. Among the top reasons an email is deemed to be spam: Deceptiveness and unknown senders (of course), frequency and irrelevancy (even though permission was granted).

1) You must have some relationship with the recipients. Relationship is a broad term in the eyes of the FCC.

If, for example, you have a list of email addresses belonging to people who are members of the same affiliation or organization as you that can constitute a relationship. If you have a list of email addresses belonging to people who have previously done business with you that constitutes a relationship. If someone has emailed you asking for information about your product or service, that constitutes a relationship.

The ultimate relationship is the opt-in list, people who have specifically requested or “opted” to receive email from you.

When you email these groups, it’s a good idea to make it clear what the affiliation or relationship is to lessen the risk of being considered spam.

Bottom line: relevant, valuable emails sent to people who asked or agreed to get them are the best people to market to via email.

2) Second, you must have an opt-out on each and every email. The best way to handle it is an automated process so you won’t have to deal with finding each address one at a time to remove them from the list. This is one of the reasons why many companies use a broadcast email service to handle email marketing.

Use a Broadcast Service

Another reason to use a broadcast service is that the email sent does not disclose the addresses of the people to which the email was sent. This an important privacy issue.

Many professionals are under the impression that Outlook will hide the addresses to which the email was sent. This is not the case.

Design for the Recipient

When designing an email for marketing the first thing to consider is the recipient, of course.

Different email programs will interpret your message differently. For example, there are web based email programs like Horde and SquirrelMail that will not read images so the email is either garbled or filtered out as spam. (sckansas email handout)

Other email programs offer the option of viewing or not viewing images. So your email may show up with several blank spaces.

The solution is to have 2 versions of the email that are sent in tandem. That way the email program of the recipient can determine which version to display.

Know What Words to Use (Examples 1 / 2 & Triggers)

Another thing to consider is the subject line. Because of the words that trigger spam filters, the subject line as well as the message needs to be free of these words – in fact the word free is often a trigger. The header cannot be misleading either.

The Message

When structuring the message, again you have to remember to stay away from certain words, phrases or dollar signs. Now this part can get to be challenging. This is why you may see legitimate emails with special characters.

Email messages should be concise, to the point and carry a strong call to action. The idea is to get the recipient to interact with your company so give them plenty of opportunities and incentives to do so.

Remember, email is a brand building opportunity so be sure that you reinforce brand messages, encourage communication and interaction through links to the supporting website and reply to email addresses.

Track the Results

Be sure to track performance of your email marketing program. This is yet another reason to use a broadcast email service. Through third party services you have the ability to see how many people opened the email, how many people clicked the various links in the email etc. This also allows you to better target your emails to a specific audience or give more information that the recipients are genuinely interested in.

Like any advertising, email must be done consistently. And, like many marketing strategies, the program must flex to any new challenges or new opportunities. Don’t be afraid to vary the format, timing and offers to find the email that works best for your company. And definitely integrate email marketing along with any other marketing – loyalty programs, print ads etc. “join our email newsletter and get even more discounts, savings etc.”

This article written by Teajai Kimsey, Interenet Marketing Strategist, Ideas That Work. First presented to the Wichita Professional Communicators.

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