What should I consider when picking an email marketing platform?

We reviewed all of the top email marketing service providers (or ESPs) and evaluated deliverability, ease-of-use and value and detailed our findings in this guide.

Did you know that the first email marketing campaign was launched in the late 1970’s and contributed to $13 million in sales? Email marketing may seem dated compared to social media and other channels of communication, yet it is still as vital as when the form of marketing was first introduced to a broader audience.

Email marketing still serves an important function yet is has to stand out. Unfortunately the average inbox is littered with spam, so separately your company’s email from a bunch of other trash is not always easy without a software program specifically dedicated to email marketing.

Is Email Marketing more effective than social media?

Email marketing still connects you to one of the biggest audiences in the world.

On average, email marketing generates $38 for every dollar spent, which equals a 3,800% return on an investment.

What other marketing campaign can make such a bold statement?

  • Email has been found to be 40x more effective than Facebook and Twitter, combined.
  • Two thirds of customers that have made a purchase online did so as a result of an email marketing message.

Benefits of Email Marketing

There are several unique benefits to email marketing, some of which you may not often think about…

  • Email Marketing is very personal. It allows you to build connections and create a rare, unique relationship with potential as well as current customers that other marketing campaigns are unable to match.
  • Provides complete control of brand awareness. No other marketing campaign can deliver the same control of brand awareness and information you want to get out to a specified following quickly.
  • Ability to provide high quality content. Social media like Facebook and Twitter is short and sweet, but it often lacks substance. What separates email marketing is you are providing a service (usually information) to customers that serves some kind of value. Most people won’t sign-up for an email newsletter unless they know you can provide something of high quality that they can’t get elsewhere on the web.
  • It’s the best method for gathering personal information. Not to sound creepy, but very few people want to give you information like an email or phone number, and for good reason! But with email marketing you are offering to exchange a service (like information) in exchange for that valuable information.
  • It’s convenient. Email marketing builds up a following, allows you to quickly connect, and thanks to the template builders it is not all that hard to create professional looking newsletter or other messages that will get your readers attention.

Features of Email Marketing Platforms

Email Builder & Editor

Email marketing programs are also good for simplifying the email template design process. Email marketing works best when you send colorful, attractive, and properly formatted messages – and without a simplified software solution, all of this will require someone well versed in graphic design.

Because you’re running a business and because you don’t have much time or money to spare, you’re going to want to find an email marketing program that comes loaded with an easy to use and versatile email builder or editor. This will allow you to craft effective messaging, without having to learn the fundamentals of graphic design or pay somebody else to design your emails for you.

Reporting Options

Probably the most important thing an email marketing service can do for you is to allow you to implement measurable analytics into your marketing efforts. The best email marketing platforms include features that can help you track who is reading what and come to informed conclusions on why they are reading it.

Features like these can allow small business owners to become virtually scientific about their marketing efforts. They can help you learn more about your readership’s behavior, and ultimately lead to more profit and sales.

An email marketing platform is great when it can not only provide you with detailed analytics but when it can also present those analytics in a highly readable and interpretative way. This is again because small business owners ultimately need solutions that can help them increase revenue AND save time.

Getting Started with Email Marketing

If you really, really wanted to, you could probably implement an email marketing campaign on your own, without an email marketing program. The reason people buy these programs, however, is because they include contact management features that simplify the campaigning process.

If you’re reaching out to upwards of 500 contacts, you’re going to want a way to categorize them and understand what each one means for your business. Good email marketing programs allow you to divide your contacts as you see fit, so that you can easily reserve some messages for some contacts and other messages for others.

When you get started with a new email marketing campaign there are some guidelines that will help lead to a successful campaign:

  • Define your audience.
  • Establish the goals for the campaign.
  • Create an easy way for people to sign up (generally through a website).
  • Choose an email campaign type (newsletter, product announcements, etc).
  • Provide regularly scheduled content. If you constantly send out emails it will get annoying. However, if you send out content too infrequent it will turn people away. You need to find a balance.
  • Measure the campaign results to get smarter. One of the best features of email marketing platforms is they help with analytics. You find out what is doing well and what is under performing and you can adjust accordingly to hopefully produce better results.

Pricing Options

Whatever type of small business yours might be, the ultimate point of marketing it is to generate more revenue. That being said, good email marketing platforms are those that allow you to spread your message on the cheap.

Most providers offer their services in 3-4 different packages, each of which is differentiated by the number of contacts they allow you to reach. Most providers set their initial cut off point at around 500 subscribers – which is more than enough for most small businesses – and most price these packages at around $15-$20.

Help & Support

When purchasing any software as a service (SaaS), you need to make sure that you’re purchasing a program that comes with effective and timely support. If you’re running a small business, you’re probably the type of person who is used to trying new things, and because of this you probably know just how important a helping hand can be.

Most email marketing programs are not extremely complicated, but, as with all the other important parts of a good program, choosing one that comes with good Help & Support will save you a lot of time in the long run.

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