Small Business Guide to Email Marketing Services

By Vangie Beal | Posted June 22, 2011

Working at Home

Email marketing is an affordable, effective strategy that small businesses can use to communicate and engage with customers through email-based correspondence.

With an email program and a list of email addresses you can start marketing to your clients and it won't cost you a penny -- but you will spend a lot of time researching industry regulations, designing email templates, managing your growing email list by hand and then try to figure out who in your list actually opened the email and clicked a hyperlink.

Using an experienced and professional email marketing service is a much better way to send professional email marketing messages out to clients and to convert potential customers into paying customers.

Tips for Buying the Right Email Marketing Service

If your small business doesn't have a large marketing-focused team, then you should consider using a hosted provider to offload a lot of the automation and tedious work involved with email marketing.

When choosing an email marketing service, keep in mind there are a variety of vendors to choose from, and most will offer the same or similar features, but at varying prices.

Some of the basics you need to think about as you research and buy your first email marketing service include the following concerns:

  • What email marketing features do I need?
  • How will I brand my company and products when using this service?
  • Is the email marketing service compatible with other systems and software I use?
  • Will this email marketing service grow with my business?
  • Does the email marketing service have a good reputation and offer support?

Email Marketing Basics: Templates, Can-Spam and Tracking Analytics

Most email marketing services provide the basic features you need to get started with email marketing. These are foundational services that allow even the most inexperienced small businesses to upload an email contact list and create a professional-looking HTML (or plain text) email newsletter. Experienced marketers can choose to migrate current processes to the new email marketing service.

Email Marketing: The Design and Branding

If you don't have in-house designers look for an email-marketing service that provides customizable templates. You should be able to upload your own creative images and assets into the template so the email messages have a visual connection to your business. Some email marketing services might offer professional design services if you prefer a unique design.

Email Marketing and CAN-SPAM Regulatory Compliance

It's challenging and darn near impossible for small business owners to keep track of email marketing regulations and how to incorporate compliance into email newsletters.

The email marketing service must follow industry standards to ensure that email messages comply with the CAN-SPAM act (CAN-SPAM is an acronym for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 and it is a U.S. law that regulates commercial email).

The CAN-SPAM Act gives recipients of spam the right to opt-out of receiving these messages and have their unsubscribe request acted upon. This is one reason why choosing an email marketing service provider who adheres to industry regulations and best practices is important.

Email Marketing Analytics and Reporting

An email marketing service also gives you details on each marketing campaign you send. This type of reporting is necessary to help you grow and enhance your email marketing strategy.

Each time you send an email, the email marketing service will track things like how many emails bounced, how many were delivered, the open rates (how many subscribers open the message) and click through rates (the percentage of subscribers who clicked hyperlinks in the message).

If you plan to use email marketing strategies as a regular part of your small business marketing plan, it is important to choose an email marketing service that offers advanced tracking and analytics capabilities. The more data about your email marketing campaign you obtain, the easier it will be to create and send targeted and effective campaigns in the future.

Basic Email Marketing Checklist: Look for professional templates that can be edited and customized, CAN-SPAM compliance, automatic handling of subscribe/unsubscribe requests, analytics and tracking reports.



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