Do you want to market with email? How do you decide which email platform is best for you? Do you go for an online service provider, or do it yourself from your own email account? Should you use pre-designed templates or your own customized option? Paid or unpaid? Subscription or credits? Hardcoded or database-driven? Single or double opt-in?* We understand it’s confusing and figuring out how to do email marketing can eclipse implementing it. Without endorsing a specific option, we’ve put together a list of factors to consider in an email marketing solution:
Most of the email marketing platforms available offer mailing list management. However, some are more sophisticated than others, so your choice largely depends these factors:
- How big is your list?
- How many lists do you have?
- Do you need cross-referencing capabilities?
A mailing list with a few hundred subscribers has simple needs and managing the list one subscriber at a time is entirely doable. Lists of more than 5,000 names are more complex. Look for options where you can:
- Add or remove subscribers from individual lists or all lists with one command
- Highlight and/or remove addresses after a specified number of bounces
- Choose between single and double opt-in subscriptions on different lists
- Import addresses in bulk without requiring an opt-in
- Collect other information besides just email addresses
- Search and query your list for specific parameters.
Identify what your mailing list looks like now, what it could look like in a year after implementing your marketing strategy, and find an email marketing platform that will comfortably accommodate both ends of the scale.
Email Template Formatting Options
Okay, we aren’t talking about HTML versus plain text here, although you need both. Most email marketing engines offer both, so that isn’t a problem. Look for the ability to choose between standard and customizable templates, or to create and upload your own design. Strategic branding includes making sure that email reflects your company’s brand.
You might not always want to use your standard email template. Email blasts are usually one-offs, focused on a particular product or service. Regular marketing emails may take a different approach, aim at a different market segment, and use a different look and feel. Make a list of all the email marketing opportunities in a year and categorize them according to the layout needed. From this, you can determine whether the platforms you consider have the resources to cope with each situation.
Scheduling and Split-Testing Sending Options
How you send email depends on how many subscribers you have, how many lists you anticipate, and how often you’ll send out emails. If you send a weekly email marketing newsletter, you don’t need to schedule the send. If you’re sending out two emails a day to different segments, check if any subscribers are on both lists and schedule your emails a few hours apart. It isn’t your subscribers’ fault if they are interested in two different topics and signed up for two mailing lists; if you send them two emails one after the other you risk spamming them and potentially losing them from one or both of your lists.
Most email marketing platforms also allow for split testing. Split testing allows you to write two different subject lines and sends each to a portion of your list, usually 10% each. The subject line that gets the better response will then be used to send the mailing to the remaining 80% of your list.
Precision Marketing Partners recommendations:
Do you go for an online service provider, or do it yourself from your own email account?
- Always use a provider; the fines, according to the CAN-SPAM Act, run to $16,000 per individual email if you get this wrong. Most personal-business email accounts prohibit marketing use.
Should you use pre-designed templates or your own customized option?
The templates are fine if you can find one that coordinates with your branding; if not, ask your graphic designer to design a template for you.
Paid or unpaid? Subscription or credits?
- If your list is large enough and you mail often enough, you must use a paid service.
Single or double opt-in?
- In 2019, single opt-in works well.
Watch this space for more info that will help you make your business successful through comprehensive marketing. We can help.