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Email marketing can be a big part of a successful marketing strategy, but it can also be time consuming and complicated. Maintaining huge contact lists, keeping track of who’s received what, and setting up automated responses and recurring messages can eat up huge chunks of time. That’s where email marketing services come in.
An email marketing service, otherwise known as an email service provider (ESP), is a service that automates some or all of the email marketing campaigns a business might need to run. These emails can include promo information, post-sale follow-ups, coupons, and more.
You could send each one of these emails yourself—or have your summer intern help out on it—but unless you can count all your customers on one hand, the amount of time it will take could be counterproductive to say the least. Enter the email marketing service.
These services aren’t just digital mailmen. They can provide a range of features, including the ability to see exactly how recipients receive and interact with your messages. That’s a major advantage for any marketer, and it might be worth the cost of the services by itself—never mind the time they can save you dealing with email manually.
One big thing to keep in mind is that all email marketing services aren’t created equal. The service you enroll in can and should cater to your specific needs. If you’re not sure what to look for, consider the following.
The content you want to send to your recipients can influence your choice of provider. If you want to send out more tailored email blasts or target certain demographics with certain messages, you’ll need to make sure your provider allows you to do that.
On the other hand, if you just need to send the same messages to everyone, you might want a service that’s lighter on features and offers a more streamlined experience. Either way, you’ll want to make sure the system you decide on is easy to use for the type of campaigns you run.
As with any form of marketing, email marketing works best when it matches the needs and interests of its intended audiences. Knowing that, try to find an ESP that can help you deliver the content your readers want in a way that works for them. If the bulk of your recipients are younger and favor mobile devices, you’ll want to ensure that your service can provide mobile-friendly solutions.
You should also consider the size of your audience. Many email marketing services delineate tiers by the number of emails users can send in a given amount of time, so it’s important to have an idea of how many emails you generally send before signing on.
Services may offer lots of features, but many cost more as a result. You’ll have to stack those features up against your financial considerations and decide if they are worth the expense.
As noted above, pricing for email marketing services tends to be based on the number of contacts you have, though a few services charge based on email volume. There are also a handful of free email marketing services out there, though they will often limit advanced features to paying subscribers. VerticalResponse, for instance, has a free tier that is great for small businesses that are just getting started with email marketing or serve a small client base.
After you’ve considered your basic email needs, you can start looking at potential providers. Here are a few popular companies in the industry.
Constant Contact is a popular email marketing platform that offers easy email creation with plenty of templates to choose from, as well as easy contact importing. Plans are affordable, and the service also has unique features like built-in tips and support for new marketers and easy event-registration management for companies that host a lot of get-togethers.
Another mainstay of email marketing is MailChimp. MailChimp offers a robust free tier, plus the ability to upgrade and unlock features like automation, workflows, comparative reports, and testing tools. MailChimp paid plans start at a very reasonable $10 per month, but the free tier has no time limits, so if you have a small contact list, it can make a perfect solution on its own.
The email service iContact is a versatile and feature-packed marketing solution. It features a great autoresponder, an easy-to-use toolset, and the ability to scale from very small businesses with simple needs all the way up to enterprise-level mailing lists.
With a little bit of research, you can drastically simplify your email marketing strategy. Have you used any of the services above? Or have you seen success with another? Tweet us at @FrontierBiz to let us know.