Marketing is essential to the success of any business, large or small.
Email marketing, however, is an essential service that every small business owner must consider.
When incorporated successfully into an overall marketing strategy, then you can reach out to your targeted demographics with relative ease.
How you reach out is important.
Choosing your email service provider is the first and arguably most critical component of the reaching out process.
There are several decisions which must be considered while making this choice, so don’t rush into it.
Consider each of these key points carefully.
That way, when you do reach a final decision, you’ll be able to offer outstanding information to every subscriber’s inbox.
#1. Establish clear and precise goals for your email marketing strategy
Ask the average small business owner what they expect from their email marketing efforts and you’ll receive an answer like the one above.
Although those are great goals to have, your strategy needs to be a little more specific.
How will you generate more sales? What do you need to do in order to create higher revenues?
When you have the right email service provider helping you out, it becomes easier to set the clear expectations that this component of your marketing strategy is going to need.
You can take your own goals, incorporate them into the processes provided by the email service provider, and then be able to send out clear and precise emails that can accomplish your specific goals.
It is important to remember that email marketing is a two-way street of communication.
You may receive responses back from each email. This is a good thing.
The right email service provider can help you respond quickly and effectively so you create real community engagement.
#2. Know what your email marketing budget will be before beginning a campaign
Every business is different. Every budget is different.
This means the same email marketing plan isn’t going to work for everyone, despite what some email service providers might say.
Now it is true that email marketing is rather inexpensive.
This doesn’t mean that it is free.
If you do not plan your budget for an email marketing campaign, then it may be difficult to achieve the clear and precise goals that you’ve set for yourself.
Some email service providers offer freemium services – or you can receive a limited amount of support for free, but then you need to pay for additional services.
This is a great way to experiment with email marketing.
It isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
Freemium services can only grow a small business so much. At some point you will need to upgrade.
Your budget needs to be set before you reach that point.
Most email service providers base their charges off of your subscriber count or the number of emails that you send out.
Additional fees may apply for testing features, responsiveness, or analytics as well.
By knowing what you need, you’ll be able to afford it when the time is right to implement the features you need.
When that happens, there will be a greater chance to maximize your ROI from email marketing.
#3. Learn how to use your marketing resources before implementing them
We live in a “plug and play” society today.
This means we expect to be able to use everything right away.
From an email marketing perspective, that just isn’t the case.
Although email marketing is simple and easy to use, there are educational resources that must be utilized in order to take advantage of what an email service provider is actually providing.
This means you’ll want to choose a provider that offers you videos, blog posts, step-by-step instructions, and other content that will let you set a steep learning curve.
At the top of the resource list should be email composition.
Emails need to be structured in a way that the recipient will want to open it.
Then they will want to see value from the content provided.
There must also be an actionable item in that email for it to be effective.
Actionable emails are different from other actionable marketing efforts.
One wrong step and you can find a number of unsubscribes appearing on your dashboard.
Your email service provider needs to show you what those wrong steps happen to be so you can avoid them at all costs.
Otherwise you’re just paying for ineffective services that won’t help you reach your clear and precise marketing goals.
#4. Always consider the deliverability rate
If an email doesn’t reach the inbox of a subscriber, then your marketing efforts are going to be left out in the cold.
One of the easiest ways to judge the effectiveness of an email service provider is to look at the deliverability rate that is offered.
High delivery rates will lower your risks of having emails be shuffled to a spam folder or rejected outright.
The best email service providers don’t want to create spam.
They want to fight its creation because that will help your emails have a better chance of being noticed.
Not every email service provider offers direct support that works on deliverability.
Choose the email service provider that will help you get every message delivered.
#5. Email automation will make your life a whole lot easier
The best email service providers are also going to provide you with an extremely helpful feature: automation.
An email service provider that offers automation will allow you to schedule emails for specific delivery times and at a specific cadence.
Advanced automation can even allow you to schedule emails for specific time zone deliveries or to be offered at times when the recipient is likely online.
This gives you certain advantages, such as creating an automated welcoming series or offering an educational series that is topic related to what you do – in other words, your broadcasting efforts.
But broadcasting isn’t the only advantage that automation provides.
You can automate everything from your follow-up emails to your recent activities with the right provider.
#6. You need metrics to analyze your effectiveness
Analytics are a good thing to have. Information will help to measure your effectiveness.
It is this information that can be used for your goal metrics.
Businesses large and small create metrics so they can see and measure goal progression at regular intervals.
Your email service provider should be providing you with high quality, accurate analytics which let you track the statistics you need.
This should include bounce rates, new subscribers, CTRs, and open rates at the bare minimum.
Different email service providers collect this information in different ways.
Each collection method may have its own strengths and weaknesses.
Look for providers that offer transparent data collection methods so you can determine if you’ll get the information you need to create and track the metrics you need for your business goals.
#7. Email marketing works when simplicity is at its core
Many website visitors will sign up for email marketing like it is an impulse purchase.
If the steps to complete the sign up are lengthy and complicated, then you aren’t going to be able to maximize the number of subscribers your site can produce.
Some email service providers create needlessly complicated procedures that will frustrate those who are interested in what you have to provide.
This is why you need a provider that can help you to immediately begin to collect subscribers.
Form generators and pre-designed forms are a must-have for every small business who is wanting to explore what email marketing can provide for them.
The best providers will also let you split-test forms so you can determine which one will provide you with the best results.
Personalization is also an important aspect to consider when looking at this key point.
Some providers offer limited personalization of the opt-in forms, while others offer a completely personalized form.
More personalization allows you to create specific sign-up opportunities so you can focus on a specific area of interest when desired.
#8. Templates can make or break your campaign
The right email template can help you get your marketing efforts to a fast start.
You don’t even need to have any coding expertise to send out a highly effective message to your subscribers.
Yet templates can only take you so far if you’re an advanced email marketer.
You may also need to have customizable HTML so your message can be modified to your exacting standards.
Most email service providers have this available as a feature these days.
Make sure you look at the actual templates, however, to ensure that your brand messages can be consistent across all of your marketing platforms.
#9. Do you need to have app integration?
Email marketing is important to a marketing effort for any size of business, but it is only one facet of an overall marketing effort.
You may also be using social media marketing, other digital marketing, and even traditional marketing like direct mail or media advertising.
With app integration available from your email service provider, you can blend them all into one meaningful marketing effort.
The best email service providers can even incorporate payment tools into your messages, such as WePay or PayPal.
This merger allows for you to automate even more aspects of your marketing efforts so you can focus on what you do best.
This allows you to have subscribers move consistently from landing pages to payment pages or even have them pay directly for products or services if you wish.
#10. You must have segmentation
The problem with freemium email service providers or those that offer low-cost, but limited solutions is that there may be little-to-no segmentation offered for your campaigns.
When people sign up to be a subscriber, they want to receive information that is only relevant to what they were initially interested in receiving.
If someone signs up for smoothie recipes and they receive a step-by-step guide to fix the engine of a Honda Accord, then there’s a good chance that person will unsubscribe.
Segmentation allows you to send out the correct emails to the correct subscriber list.
Segmentation can be offered in many ways.
Email domains, click-throughs, specific demographics, or your own segments for metric tracking are all available from the best providers.
Take advantage of this key point and you’ll be able to create better individualized messages for your subscribers.
#11. You need effective customer service
Not everything works the way you expect it to work. Stuff happens.
When it does, you need a support team that will help you get up and running again right away.
There should be various methods of contact available to you and a helpful FAQ page or guide that can get you through the various tasks you may need to complete.
Most importantly, your email service provider should offer in-house support that is knowledgeable and reliable.
If you have questions, then it shouldn’t be difficult to get answers.
Without this capability, an email service provider is focused more on themselves than they are on you.
#12. It shouldn’t just be a freemium experience
The freemium experience is nice because it offers you a try-it-before-you-buy-it opportunity.
Yet the goal of the freemium model is to ultimately force you into scaling up how much you pay because you’re increasing subscribers or the number of emails that you send.
This shouldn’t be the only option that is available to you.
The best email service providers will offer you a 100% free trial that will let you test out every feature that is offered.
This allows you to see with certainty if the provider has the capability of meeting the needs your business has.
What Is the Best Email Service Provider?
My favorite one is GetResponse.
This email service provider is able to effectively meet all 12 of these key points with remarkable reliability.
Like every provider, GetResponse offers “per subscriber” plans, but is the only major provider that offers a low-cost $15 per 1,000 subscriber plan.
GetResponse also offers the largest annual plan discount at 18%.
The industry standard today for major email service providers is 15%.
MailChimp doesn’t even offer a discount.
Non-profit organizations can receive a 50% discount on all plans and packages.
GetResponse also offers all of their core features in their basic plan.
This means during your 30-day free trial, you’ll get to use the advanced drag and drop editor of GetResponse, the free inbox preview, the advanced scheduling features, and much more.
GetResponse also offers customer support in multiple languages, which definitely is a big advantage.
Many businesses are choosing GetResponse because it offers a comprehensive platform that is easy to use.
If you want to have full control over your email marketing efforts, access to helpful data for your goal metrics, and one of the easiest design and delivery experiences that is available right now, then consider each key point carefully.
Look at every feature that is offered.
Choose what makes sense for you.