Using Email Marketing Services
Email marketing is one of the fastest-growing forms of marketing, and it can be extremely effective — as well as extremely cost-effective. Companies just starting out with this form of marketing sometimes think they can just send out a bunch of emails from their own email account and call it email marketing.
Not so. You can write individual email messages to each of your prospects, of course, and that can be very good if the numbers are small enough to make it practical. Write up what amounts to a newsletter and shoot it out via blind copies to your whole customer list, and you’re just going to get banned for spam.
You can have a custom template made, written, and sent, as Sweetique did with their newsletter.
The advantages of this are probably obvious: you have a custom look that reinforces your brand, and readers are more likely to respond to your email.
If you want to be able to do it yourself, though, there are plenty of services out there that will let you send a proper email newsletter or advertising message at economical rates. I’ve had clients who found it too difficult, and certainly many business owners will find that their time is better spent on other things, but I think that most computer literate people can use these services successfully.
Take iContact as an example. They’re not a client of mine, I don’t own stock, and I don’t even recommend them over any other service; they’re just a good example of how these things work.
You’ll have a dashboard for your account. It’s laid out very simply: you can find help right away if you need it, you can see the stats for your last message readily, you get a nice graphic measure of how many more contacts you can add before you need to upgrade.
You have four choices for tasks: My Contacts, where you can add names to your subscriber list, is the first one. You can type the names in if you must, or you can upload them from a spreadsheet. You can also search for individuals and segment your list — for example, you can divide the resellers of your product from the end-users, or your regular customers from the ones who only shop at Christmas or back-to-school.
Just be sure that your list only includes people who have asked for information, who have contacted you, or who have given you their email addresses in the course of networking.
I get email marketing messages from people who announce in their messages that they have found my email address through their own efforts. Why they think this is admirable I can’t imagine. My email address is public knowledge, and I’d be delighted to have an email from you sometime. People who think this means they can send me offers for Viagra are mistaken. Their stuff is spam, and I delete it unread. What a waste of money and effort for them! Don’t get lumped in with these guys by forgetting email marketing ethics.
Once your contacts are in, you can go to the next tab and create your message. iContact allows you to do this in three ways. You can follow their step-by-step method with their templates. This is very easy, and you will be able to do it yourself with no trouble. Click on the artist’s palette on the left of the screen, and then just do exactly what they say.
You can also create your message in html and upload it. if you can do this, you don’t need my help with this step (you may still need me for the content of the message, of course).
You can also write your newsletter into a visual editor. That’s the middle option: the pad of paper.
Click that pad of paper, and you’ll get a visual editor like the one you might use for your blog or your Facebook account. It may look a lot like your word processing program. You can type directly into this text box, using the familiar icons for “bold” and “italics” and inserting pictures or hyperlinks.
When you finish, you can click “Preview” at the bottom left of the screen to see how your newsletter will look in the recipients’ mailboxes. You can send a test copy to yourself or a colleague for feedback. And then you’ll move on to the next tab, Send. Here you can choose which segments of your list to include in the mailing, and schedule the newsletter for some later date if you care to. Now, hit “send” and relax.
If you’re not a relaxed person, you can go to the Track tab and track the progress of your newsletter in real time, watching to see how many people open it, unsubscribe, and click through. I’m too relaxed and too busy to do this, so I just go back later and check. However, if this is your first email newsletter, I think you could get the whole office together and watch, as though it were election results or something, and celebrate if it does well.
I’ll leave you with a line from an email ad I received just this morning, possibly the most revolting email ad I’ve ever received: “The possibilities are restricted only by how much juice your greed glands can push out.” I’ve carefully noted the name of the company in order to make sure never to buy anything from them, even by accident. Don’t do this to yourself: think about your audience. Send messages about greed glands only to people you’re sure have some.