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Email Marketing Best Practices, Software and Other Tips

Among the vast array of options available to companies interested in Internet advertising, email marketing often goes overlooked. This is unfortunate, because an email marketing campaign is an affordable method of attracting new clients and creating repeat customers. It also helps build loyalty and brand awareness.

What is email marketing?
As the name suggests, email marketing is the practice of sending emails, usually in large numbers, to a list of recipients. Most businesses either choose to purchase software or to hire an Internet marketing agency to develop promotional emails or newsletters.

There are a number of ways to grow an email list, such as offering to subscribe to “Get a Discount” emails, adding an email address text field to online contact forms and asking to subscribe to an email newsletter during checkout. It also helps to offer an incentive, such as periodic product discounts via email, to encourage customers to provide personal information.

The appeal of email marketing lies in its low cost. Even if you hire an Internet marketing company to design your templates and help with managing email marketing campaigns, you will still see great  return on your investment (ROI). In fact, the statistics that demonstrate the success of email marketing are astonishing. According to SalesForce.com:

  • 44 percent of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email.
  • Seven in 10 people say they made use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the prior week.
  • Email ad revenue reached $156 million in 2012.
  • For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on an email marketing investment.

Email marketing is more cost-effective than alternatives such as direct mail, and it’s easier to track useful statistics like the number of emails opened, how many people clicked through, how much revenue was generated, and many leads were generated.

Email Marketing Best Practices

The two most common forms of email marketing are newsletters and promotional emails. Before you design your newsletter or advertisement, consider these practices:

1. Use an HTML-based design.

An HTML-based design produces more conversions than plain text, because it allows you to incorporate a range of graphics and colors, making your newsletters and advertisements more appealing. You might, however, need to hire an Internet marketing professional to design an email template. Fortunately, this can be a one-time investment, which can produce an almost immediate return.

2. Offer an incentive to recipients.

The goal of any email marketing campaign is to trigger an action. If you’re trying to sell a product, encourage recipients to download a form, or promote your brand, consider offering an incentive to customers in order to increase conversion rates.

3. Offer useful information.

If your email offers helpful, engaging information, there’s a higher probability that users will open it and read it. Consider including helpful tips, humor, or engaging content.

4. Don’t ask too many questions.

Email marketing is a great method of compiling information about your audience, but avoid asking too many questions. This can discourage customers from responding and can make your business seem less trustworthy.

Email Marketing Software and Tools

When it comes to software, the general rule-of-thumb is, “nothing is free.” Fortunately, that’s not necessarily true when it comes to email marketing software and tools. One ESP in particular, MailChimp.com, provides free plans that are sufficient to get any small business started.

MailChimp offers several payment options and plans based on the volume of email recipients. A free plan allows businesses to send up to 12,000 emails per month to 2,000 subscribers per blast. There’s no contract, no credit card information required and no maximum term.  You won’t have access to some paid program features, however, such as Spam Filter Diagnostics, Autoresponders, Delivery by Time Zone, or certain analytics software. Additionally, the MailChimp logo will appear at the bottom of every email. The free plan does include:

  • A/B Testing
  • Statistics Reports
  • Drag and Drop Editor
  • MailChimp Email Templates
  • Email Delivery
  • Geo-location
  • Custom Forms
  • Subscriber Profiles
  • Coupon Codes
  • Social Sharing

Another email marketing platform is ConstantContact.com. Like MailChimp, they offer professional email templates, recipient list management, analytics and a number of other features, but there is a cost associated, also based on the number of recipients.

Are email marketing companies worth the investment?

According to SalesForce.com, 82 percent of consumers open emails from companies, so this form of marketing does have the power to take your business to the next level. If you plan on making email marketing part of your long-term business strategy, then yes, email marketing companies are worth the investment. Here are some benefits of investing in a marketing agency:

  • Design professional-looking templates with conversion rates in mind.
  • Properly set up and configure your account with ESPs.
  • Identify the best ways to grow your list.
  • Help with a marketing calendar.
  • Identify the best strategies for you company.

Whether you own a small business or a high-capital enterprise, taking advantage of email marketing will improve your bottom line.

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