Email Marketing Information & Tips
Email marketing is an easy and affordable direct marketing channel. The setup / re-occurring costs of an email marketing platform are very minimal, and there’s even platforms out there that offer forever free plans (although usually not with all the features). Email marketing can also be highly personalized and highly automated. Here’s all the details on how to get started with email marketing.
Requirements To Get Started
One of the best things about email marketing is it’s insanely easy to get started. Email marketing is low-cost and can be done remotely from any computer. Basically, all you need is the platform, the email recipients and the email message to send them.
Email Marketing Platform – There is specialized software that’s used for email marketing. This software is web-based, insanely intuitive and very effective. There’s tons of different solutions to choose from, each with their own different features.
Mailing List / Recipients – You also need a list / database of all the recipients you plan on mailing to. If you’ve already got this, you’re ahead of the game. Often times, it’s possible to sync and/or import from a CRM or POS as well. If not, the platform will contain all the tools you need to opt recipients into email marketing.
Content / Visual Assets – Last, but not least, you’ll need the content to send. This means any text and visual assets needed to compile the email message. The various email platforms will have templates to choose from, which can make this process easier.
How Much Does Email Marketing Cost?
Email marketing is insanely affordable. In fact, per recipient, it’s the most cost-effective direct marketing channel. With direct mail, you’re paying way more per piece for print and mail. SMS marketing solutions are also more expensive.
Email marketing platforms are generally priced in tiers based on the number of recipients. There are some solutions out there that charge per message sent. You can find some very good platforms starting at around $10-$20 per month. Keep in mind there might be other costs associated with the email marketing. Wages of whomever is managing the email marketing, for example.
Choosing The Right Email Platform
Choosing the right email marketing platform is very important. Although it’s always possible to migrate to another ESP later, that comes with time and effort, especially when it comes to building email templates and automated workflows. That is why it’s always best to go with a solid suite the first time. Some things to consider when comparison-shopping email marketing platforms:
- Automation Workflows / Drip Campaigns
- Email Personalization / Conditional Content
- Pricing Tiers / Send Volume
- Analytics / Data Append
- API / 3rd Party Integrations
My Recommended Email Solutions
There’s a lot of email marketing platforms out there, and tons of really great ones. There’s a couple that stand out in particular to me for a number of reasons. Here is what I’d personally recommend (and have used myself, as well as on client projects):
GetResponse – GetResponse is an amazingly robust and intuitive email marketing platform, with a price-tag that’s unbeatable. Fully customizable campaign automations, robust personalization and analytics and a built in landing page and webinar platform.
ActiveCampaign – ActiveCampaign is a very robust email marketing automation platform. ActiveCampaign features fully automated campaign workflows, lead scoring, conditional content for personalization and a solid API and tons of integration partners. All for an insanely affordable price.
Drip – Drip, as the name implies, is highly focused on automated drip email campaigns. Drip is very streamlined and easy to use. Drip integrates with all the leading ecommerce platforms, enabling email marketing geared towards online shoppers.
Keep in mind, I’m kind of a junky when it comes to automation, personalization and a lot of that other more advanced stuff. That totally influences my preference of email marketing platforms. I’m also way too stingy to look at those marketing automation suites that start at a couple hundred to a couple thousand per month. The entry-level suites are starting to catch-up anyway, without ramping up their price tags.
Signing Up For Email Marketing
Once you’ve decided on an email marketing platform, the registration process is quite simple. Many of the platforms will let you get started without a credit card. You will have to enter that information after the trial period has expired, however. Also, keep in mind that the exact registration process varies from platform to platform. For that reason, this section might be somewhat vague.
To get started, simply create an account. All these email platforms are trying to sell you on their services, so that process should be pretty straight forward and easy. They’ll prompt you for company information and contact information for the person responsible for the email marketing. Once you’ve completed the signup form, you’ll have to verify the email address and you’re ready to login and start exploring the platform.
Exploring / Learning The Platform
If you’ve played around with email marketing in the past, or any other SaaS marketing solution, then you should feel right at home. Otherwise, it might take some getting used to. All the email marketing platforms are fairly intuitive (for the most part). Some are more user-friendly than others. There’s usually some guides (both video and text) that goes over using the platform in great detail. It’s highly suggested that you review the knowledge base and other training material.
What’s possible within the platform varies based on the solution you choose and plan selected. Some platforms are strictly email marketing, while other support other marketing channels as well. The navigation, look, feel and everything else will vary from platform to platform as well.
Each solution will have a section and functionality for managing lists, recipients, viewing reports and building campaigns. The exact process and flow will vary from platform to platform. Take some time to learn the program and explore all the features.
Building The Mailing List
In order to send out email newsletters, you first need recipients to send to. Every email marketing platform will be able to generate opt-in forms. These are the best way to get new recipients to signup for your mailing list. Once generated, the opt-in forms can be added to your website or blog.
Importing Mailing Lists: Every email marketing platform will allow you to import mailing lists, but your lists will most likely get flagged. This is because email marketing solutions need to verify that all email addresses are compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act and following opt-in best practices. Scraping email addresses is not only illegal, but will result in spam complaints and other actions that will reduce the deliverability of the email marketing.
Email Marketing Deliverability
There’s a lot of things that impact email marketing deliverability. When dealing with email marketing deliverability there’s two main things to be concerned about: ISP filtering / whitelisting and inbox placement / spam folder.
Preventing Spam Complaints: Spam complaints are one of the worst metric working against email deliverability and should be prevented at any cost. Ways to prevent spam complaints include making it easy to opt out of receiving emails (so they opt-out instead of hitting spam button), using tactics like double opt-in to make sure only the most interested are signed up, and sending relevant emails to relevant lists and segments.
Content Keywords: The keywords of the content have an impact on ISP filtering as well as inbox placement. Most of the email marketing platforms have built in spam tests that will score your campaigns based on the words being used. It’s also important to note that text to image ratio also important, as spammers will hide spammy keywords in image files, where ISPs and email clients can’t see them.
Campaign Reports / Analytics
Every email marketing solution will offer some form of analytics and reporting. Some platforms offer more robust stats while others are more basic. On the basic levels, the reporting will give metrics on campaigns: sent emails, open rate, click-through rate ect. More robust platforms will provide metrics on the actual lists and recipients, geo data from reverse-IP lookup and other metrics / KPI.
Email Marketing Automation
Put your email marketing on autopilot with automation. There’s multiple types of email marketing automation, ranging from autoresponders to fully automated drip campaigns. Here’s all the different ways that emails can be automated.
Autoresponder Campaigns: Autoresponders are date-based email campaigns. As an example; birthdays are one of the most commonly used autoresponders out there. These campaigns are used to send a single highly relevant messages to an individual recipient.
Email Drip Campaigns: Drip campaigns are a series of periodical emails that are all related, but spaced out over a duration of time. The concept behind drip campaigns is that each email progresses the recipient through the sales cycle, while reinforcing brand recognition through the multiple email touch points.
Email Marketing Automation: The last and most robust is full-on email marketing automation. The top platforms offer campaign automation workflows, complete with if/then statements, forks in workflow and other features that help segment, guide and score email recipients as they travel through the automation series.
Personalizing Email Campaigns
It’s possible to personalize the email messages to each individual recipient. Personalization increases relevancy and catches the eye of the recipient. Mail merges (usually first name) can be added to email headlines and email body. Conditional content takes it a step further and will display or hide entire pieces of content based off database fields, dramatically changing up the email content from user to user.