What is E-Mail Marketing?
To simplify it Email Marketing is a targeted mass mailing done via email. The purpose of email marketing is to advertise, recruit new clients, introduce a new set of products or services to an existing client base, and/or to keep your clients informed by means of newsletter, etc. All of the above mentioned are legitimate business efforts, as long as you respect some of the unwritten rules and as long as the list of emails you use is “targeted”. In other words the names and emails must come from a database that is generated by your marketing division and represents your existing client base, a carefully selected list of potential prospects, or a list of people who opted in to receive messages (also known as an Auto-Responder).
If you are not attracting targeted traffic and is buying your list or is emailing people without their consent then you are considered a spammer and what you are sending is spam, bulk mail, and unsolicited mail. You are in so many words the enemy of all things in the virtual world. People hate spammers and it is easy to be labeled a spammer and once caught it is very hard to get out of.
So obviously, opt-in email advertising is far more cost effective than direct marketing via regular mail, door-to-door sales, or telemarketing. Paper, printing, envelops, and postage can add up quickly, door to door sales requires a lot of leg pushing and people are not so easily to open their door to strangers, and telemarketing well with the way cell phones are set up now a days with caller ID you’re subject to go straight to voice mail or if you’re lucky to get someone to answer you probably will get hung up on the moment you start talking.
So why not use your personal email or some mailing software?
In the early days of email marketing (before the art of penile enlargement was crated), that’s what people did. They would gather all their email into some primitive version of a spreadsheet, fire up some mail merging program, hook it you to their mailing software and viola, thousands of emails were flying away.
Today, the scenario is certainly possible, but this is what could happen:
One of the many not-for-profit groups that decided to police internet will intercept that a large number of emails were generated and/or by a server near you. In order to protect the civilized virtual world from those who spread spam, viruses, and other vermin, they will put you on a list of threats. Those nice corporate folks who were your intended recipients, have an IT department that gets constantly yelled at by angry users who get email with naked people, videos, or porn. So, Tim, their IT guy decides to put up an anti-spam system that links to that not-for-profit’s database of known spammers (that’s YOU…yea you are now a KNOWN SPAMMER) and all your email are now block. The software is so powerful that you and/or the company will have trouble communicating via email and you and/or your IT folks will go mad and this could potentially lead to you losing your job/business.
Not good…and another thing that could happen is: you’ll have to build some opt-in/opt-out system. In some states there are laws that require you to make it very easy for your audience to unsubscribe, you’ll have a hard time formatting your email in a decent, eye pleasing way, etc.
Lastly, the process of sending thousands of emails and managing lists, subscribing and unsubscribing people is tedious and annoying. The only way to do it is with a maximum degree of automation or to outsource to a company that does it for you.
You may be turning your nose up at the thought of paying for a service, but when it comes to mass mailing it’s to much too handle and is best to go with a automate system.
If you are worried about cost, know that the fee you pay for email marketing services, will still costs less than the continued overhead and expenses of the traditional options, not to mention the great possibilities of reaching a much larger audience, much faster (practically instantly).
What you should look for in an email marketing service?
1. Automating Your Subscribe and Unsubscribe Requests
Many email marketing service will provide you with an HTML code you will need to paste to your site so that you will have a subscription form on your web site. Most will also provide a link at the bottom of each email that enables subscribers to update their information or to unsubscribe from a list, automating everything for you.
2. Personalization of Emails
Another powerful feature of many email marketing services is the ability to use mail merge capabilities to personalize each email that you send. Most service have custom fields, additional to the standard first name and last name.
3. Bounce-back email handling
Bounce-backs are emails that are sent to email accounts that no longer exist or are full, blocked, etc. Essentially, you’ll get a response stating that your message did not make it. All email list management software programs are able to manage subscribe and unsubscribe requests and send out messages; however, without integrated bounce-back email handling all the non-deliverable emails will be sent back to you, a whether big nuisance if your list is large. Ideally, the email software you use will be able to manage your bounce-backs for you. Whenever a bounce-back is received, the software makes a note of the address and if another bounce-back is received the email address will be sent to a list of dead addresses.
This remove capability is extremely important since if you continuously send out email with many bounce-back you be blacklisted as a spammer. This is something you really want to avoid at all cost.
4. HTML Email
The ability to send out HTML emails has been around for quite some time. Most email marketing companies support the ability to send out messages that include graphics and formatted text.
However, not all users have the ability to view email messages in HTML format. This percentage is usually between 5-15%. Instead of seeing your aesthetically pleasing email they might see a string of meaningless coding. Using most email list management programs, these 5-15% of users will more than likely open up emails from you and be very inclined to call you a spammer.
To avoid this, look for companies that use multi-part MIME to send out messages. When you send an HTML email in mulit-part MIME, those users who do not have the ability to view HTML messages will receive the email in the usual text format.
So who should you use?
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