If you ever go to a marketing or business growth seminar, you’ll hear that you should be using email marketing. As a small business, you need to keep costs down, but contact points up; look after your existing customers and demonstrate to potential customers the reasons they should buy from you. One of the most cost-effective ways to do this is by using email, and automated email marketing services can help.
Are you email marketing already?
You might already be doing some form of email marketing, and you’re looking for a way to increase your activity without using up any more of your time. If so, you should have a good idea of what’s working and what’s not – which emails get the best response rates and what attracts your readers to open the email and take an action.
Knowing as much as possible about your email marketing is important when you need to compare email marketing services. It will help you to see whether the service has the features you need in order to maintain your success, or how it can help you to do things more effectively.
New to email marketing?
For many small businesses, organising a marketing email service is on the list of “things-we-know-we-should-be-doing” but you haven’t quite got round to it. That’s often because there just aren’t enough hours in the day for you to investigate how it works, understand how to write good content, make sure your contact database is up to date, and source images and design to help your email stand out.
This is often the point at which you might realise that an affordable option like a virtual assistant is needed, to take away some of the administrative load so that you can concentrate on business growth. But it’s also a good time to look into using an automated system that can reduce the time it takes to do this type of marketing, whilst bringing you better results.
Five steps to choosing your email service
1. Know what you want to do
What do you want to achieve with your email marketing? The first step towards selecting any software service is to know what you need it to do for you. Does it need to integrate with an existing contact database? Must it be able to segment your database so that you can send emails to specific audiences? Do you need options that allow viewers to respond in a certain way? Do you want to be able to schedule your email marketing ahead of time? Understanding your needs will help you to find the best match.
2. Set a budget
Many email services offer free options, allowing you to access a good proportion of their functionality at no cost at all. This may be enough for the email marketing you want to do. If, however, you want to send lots of emails in a short space of time, or you want to access particular reports and statistics, you might need to choose a subscription model, so look at how much the monthly fee is so that you can compare costs. You might also want to factor in the cost of administration for your email marketing – either the time taken to manage it in-house, or the cost of outsourcing to a virtual assistant business as an alternative.
3. Look at design options
Most email software allows you to customise the design of your email, helping you to make it more attractive to readers, and more relevant to your business. Some packages are more intuitive and easy to use than others. Think about how much freedom of design you need, or whether you can work with a basic set of templates. You should also consider the time it will take to get up to speed with using the software, or training someone else to do it.
4. Measure, and measure again
One of the most powerful things about email marketing is how measurable it is. With the right package, you can see who has opened your email, who has clicked through to your website, or other landing page from the email, and from there you can track other actions too. See what time of day people are most likely to open your email, and how many people deleted it without reading. These statistics help you to refine your marketing immediately, making the most of your time and your money.
5. Consider constraints
This is particularly important if you’re thinking about just using the free software options. It’s likely that these will limit the number of subscribers you can have, and the number of emails you can send, or how you send them. They might offer limited template options, and not allow you to integrate campaigns with your social media and website. You might also find that you only get a very basic level of reporting. That’s why it’s important to either take the time to compare offerings yourself, or get help from someone like an email marketing virtual assistant who can research the various options available based on your needs and get you started.
If you’ve been putting off this type of marketing, now might be the perfect time to commit to adding it to your business strategy. Choosing an automated email marketing product will help to make the practical side of this channel easier to manage, and you can get plenty of marketing virtual assistance to make sure you’re making the most of the opportunity that email offers.