In an era when giant retailers and mega-corporations are pouring millions of dollars into Internet marketing and advertising, owners of small- and medium-sized can become easily discouraged. With limited marketing budgets, can smaller businesses compete in the high-cost world of Internet marketing and advertising?
The answer is a definitive “yes.” Indeed, one of the best ways to leverage limited marketing budgets is to use email marketing, which can be used to streamline, organize, and enhance customer relationships and communications. Email marketing is the perfect vehicle for distributing a company newsletter, contacting potential clients, sending offers to existing customers, or simply keeping in touch with an audience about updates and changes to the business.
Put it Into Practice
At first glance, it may seem that email marketing is a good idea in theory, but difficult to execute in practice. Compiling and maintaining email lists, composing and keeping track of email messages and offers, and sending out the emails manually or using rudimentary email blast software is difficult and time-consuming. It’s also a gamble, since so many blast emails are caught in spam filters and are never delivered to the recipients. The only way to truly get the message to the customer is through sophisticated email marketing software.
If you don’t get permission first, you could get a lot of spam complaints or lose customers for good.
Mail List Management Software
Historically, email list management software has had limited features, was unreliable in terms of assuring delivery of emails, and has been cost prohibitive to all but the largest companies. The good news is that new products have entered the marketplace that not only overcome these limitations, but that also offer enhanced affordability.
As a small or medium-sized business, shopping for email list management software can be tricky. Look for the following features:
Do not ever send emails with headlines such as “Buy Now.” Your customers understand that you’re a company and therefore you have to sell your product, so it is more important to build a professional and ongoing relationship. Your customers will most definitely appreciate this and be more apt to make purchases from you because of it.
Email list management software should allow you to send up to 50,000 emails a month for under $100. There are even some email list management software systems that periodically offer introductory rates of $1 for the first month.
An intuitive, Web-based interface
Web-based software is the wave of the future; a Web-based email list management system means you never have to worry about software maintenance or upgrades.
This will make your customers want to refer their friends involved. Referral programs can be beneficial if you wish to increase your customer base.
Limitless email lists
You should be able to maintain as many addresses as you wish and as many lists as you want without incurring extra expense. Beware of companies that charge based on the number of database entries you have!
If you don’t use your allotted number of emails during a given month, a good email marketing package will allow you to roll unused credits over into the next month, or to purchase additional credits on the fly, in real time.
Educate yourself about email marketing. You will find a lot of helpful books online and in libraries. You may also be able to find local workshop or workshops to attend; pay attention to the classifieds and bulletin boards.
You should be able to import entire mailing lists into the online system with a few clicks of your mouse. You should also be able to rent or buy opt-in email lists and migrate them into the system.
The best email marketing software systems allow you to import a series of messages and set up sequential mailings to be sent at the day and time you desire. In other words, you should be able to implement a six-month email marketing campaign in one sitting.
Always get customer permission before you contact your customers via email. Most people disregard unwanted emails and often delete messages from unknown senders and your efforts will be wasted. You might be violating the policy of your ISP’s policies if you send out mass emails to customers who have not chosen to receive them.
Look for software that allows you to edit your lists and messages right up to the minute your mailing is scheduled to be sent.
Automated list management
Email marketing software should automatically handle bounced emails, bad addresses, and requests for removal. It should also allow you to remove any blacklisted addresses and build opt-in email lists.
It is smart to include an opt-in before receiving emails. While it may seem cumbersome, it is a great way to guarantee that your customers actually want emails from you, which could save you from future trouble.
Great email marketing software can be the great equalizer, allowing small- and medium-sized businesses to compete with the corporate giants in the world of Internet marketing and advertising.