If you don’t have a good email marketing program, you don’t have a good marketing program — period. A 2013 report from Custora, a New York City-based marketing analytics firm, showed that 7.5 percent of all gained customers are coming from email marketing, which is better than either Facebook or Twitter, and represents a 4X growth since 2009. That growth is only going to continue.
However, in order to have a great email marketing program, you need to have the right email marketing service in your arsenal. This choice isn’t as easy to make as it may seem. There are dozens of options, and only by evaluating your business’ needs and direction will you know which one is best for your startup. Here’s how to do this:
Define Your Marketing Goals
I’m all about action, but action isn’t effective unless it’s directed. Start off by figuring out what your key marketing needs are and what you need your email marketing to accomplish for you.
Are you at a stage where you want to build engagement and visibility by encouraging signups and sending a newsletter? Or do you plan to increase sales and conversions by using your email campaign to convert customers and link directly to your sales catalog? Because all email marketing services have different features and prices, knowing your exact needs will save you both money and hassle.
One important goal is to make sure your email campaign is readable on mobile devices as well as desktops. More and more customers are on the go, and choosing a service that allows you to optimize for mobile is a key part of a successful marketing plan.
If you need more specific help with your campaign development and strategy, some email marketing services offer professional campaign consulting services. While these services can be expensive, they can also help you avoid misusing time and money if you have a small staff or need expert help.
Once you know your needs, review which services can help you meet them most effectively.
To find the the email marketing service that best fits your needs, look through a number of options listed here.
Review Your Costs
As a startup, you already know that costs are an important factor in every business decision. As a result, the costs associated with your email marketing service must be reviewed carefully and balanced against their potential for return.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should automatically go with the cheapest possible service. New entrepreneurs often make the mistake of over-investing or under-investing. The key to right-investing is to choose the product with the highest likelihood of delivering positive returns for your company.
Pricing structures for email marketing services usually use a monthly fee that’s based on the number of subscribers you have. Services typically have plan minimums and plan maximums, but most also offer custom-built large subscriber plans as well. Regardless, it’s a good idea to choose a service that you aren’t about to outgrow in the near future.
Free trials are another important way to evaluate your cost-to-benefit results with email marketing services. Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to two or three, use the free trials and see if the service seems intuitive, easy to use, and effective for your needs. This will help you avoid spending money unnecessarily on a program that winds up being a poor fit.
Another important cost element is the customer service provided by the company. It’s worth it to pay more for a more accessible, highly rated customer service experience. Consider if you want 24/7 support, and whether email support, live chat, or tutorials are important to your startup.
Get Great Analytics
Email marketing — like all marketing initiatives — requires extensive testing to see if the templates and copy you’re using are effective. Without great analytics, you won’t have the data you need to run these tests.
Most email marketing services provide free basic self-service analytics on metrics like open rates, which links are clicked, and unsubscribe rates. That said, those aren’t the only metrics you’ll want to track. Hubspot gives a great list of key email marketing metrics, including conversion rates, forwarding, list growth, leads generated, and overall ROI. If an email marketing service doesn’t give you the resources you need to track these results, it isn’t a great fit for your firm.
Consider whether you want to integrate with Google Analytics, or whether you need professional analytical consulting services included with your plan. Not all email marketing services include these functions, so it’s an important consideration before you make your final choice.
Choosing the best email marketing service for your small business is an important part of any startup’s marketing mix. By considering your marketing goals, costs, and analytical needs, you’ll find it easy to make the best choice for your company.
What is the number one feature you love about your email marketing service?
Email Photo via Shutterstock