As a small business just getting started, there are tons of decisions that you’re already making: your products, your business model, which technology or e-commerce platform you’re going to be using.
There are also a lot of different options for online marketing. Pay Per Click (e.g., Google AdWords), social media, sponsored content.
And the granddaddy of them all: email marketing. Email has been around for a long time. Email marketing has been around just as long.
Sending newsletters to your customers, as well as to those who are only interested in your product but who haven’t made any purchases yet, is one of the most effective ways to turn one-time buyers into loyal customers, and to convert leads into sales.
There are a lot of email marketing software providers out there. What this means is that there’s no one-size-fit all platform that fits every business in every market. You’ll have to choose a software that’s right for you and your business. But before you make that choice make sure you understand the basics of email marketing.
That being said, there are certain features that you need to make sure that your email marketing software platform has. I’ll talk about the three most important: Ease of Use; Deliverability; and Delivering Value.
Marketing Software That’s Easy to Use
You don’t want to be spending any more time than you have to when learning a new technology, especially if you’re just getting your business up and running. There will be training and mentoring available but ideally you want something quick and intuitive to use the first time.
In the email marketing software market, the range of options run from super-easy to extremely sophisticated.
If you’re just starting up, you’ll probably want to err on the side of simplicity. The basic functionalities of email marketing software – creating, sending and tracking newsletters – should be simple, intuitive, and fast.
For the more adventurous, even sophisticated email marketing platforms shouldn’t require an enormous amount of introduction.
Make sure that your software provider has support, that it’s not too expensive, and that they provide extra tutorials, guidelines, and how-to’s to help get you up and running, and to help troubleshoot if you run into problems.
Newsletter Software that Guarantees Deliverability
This is the bread and butter of newsletter software. As a marketer, you want all of your emails to be delivered to the right person at the right time.
The key factor for you as a blogger or small business owner is this: every newsletter that fails to reach the inbox of your customers, or that’s flagged by spam filters, is a waste. It’s a waste of the time you put into creating the newsletter, and it’s a waste of any money that you spent generating content and sending the email.
To reduce waste, make sure that the email marketing provider that you choose offers you lots of options to improve your deliverability. It should have top-notch servers, belong to certified sending associations like ReturnPath, have spam checks, and provide you with additional information to optimize your delivery rates.
Value from Your Email Marketing
Email marketing has a very high ROI – as much as 40:1 in some cases.
And email marketing providers offer a ton of features: total automation sequences, full-service support plans, links between email, social media, and other marketing channels, etc.
But that doesn’t mean that you need to go out and spend a lot on a sophisticated email marketing software with lots of bells and whistles. The software that you choose has to fit your business. A Ferrari is great, but sometimes a Honda gets the job done just as well.
No two email marketing strategies look the same. Differences in size, products, markets, and customer base mean that what works for one company might not work for another.
Make sure that the investment you make in email marketing technology is the right size for your business. If you’ve only got a couple thousand subscribers, or are just starting out and looking to collect email addresses, then top-end newsletter software probably isn’t the best choice. At least not yet.