Email marketing is one of the most effective and cost efficient ways to communicate with your audience and generate leads.
All the design and copywriting skills won’t help if your e-mail never reaches its destination- Kristoff Zammit Ciantar
With e-mail marketing an exact return on investment can be tracked and has proven to be high when done properly. Advertisers can reach substantial numbers of e-mail subscribers who have opted in (i.e., consented) to receive e-mail communications on subjects of interest to them.
However all the design and copywriting skills in the world won’t help if your e-mail never reaches its intended destination! E-mail deliverability is still an issue for legitimate marketers. According to reports, legitimate e-mail servers averaged a delivery rate of 56 per cent; many are also either rejected or bounce back.
No matter how good your e-mail marketing campaign is in terms of content, no matter how big your mailing list is, if you do not have the proper tool to distribute it and then check the results, all of your hard work will be in vain.
There are a large number of companies currently offering different e-mail marketing solutions. Some of them can be integrated in your current customer relationship management (CRM) system; others are simply stand-alone programmes. Some e-mail software can only help you distribute your e-mails, while others feature comprehensive statistics and reporting facilities.
When looking for e-mail marketing services you need to consider such issues, as whether you want an integrated or a stand-alone facility, whether it’s free or fee-based, or whether you want to send plain text or HTML-based messages.
Some e-mail marketing software can be integrated in your CRM software. This might be more expensive however. Depending on your needs, you may need to consider a solution that offers the scalability or flexibility to integrate with your existing systems.
Good e-mail marketing software should provide important features such as: allow easy management of your subscriber lists; allow distribution of targeted e-mails, i.e. you should be able to easily create different groups of subscribers and post messages to each group; provide easy subscription/un-subscription management; good monitoring, as e-mail marketing is popular and useful because results can be measured very effectively and you know how many e-mails were delivered, opened, who unsubscribed etc.; provide flexibility in terms of design and use of HTML; and personalisation of e-mails that leads to better open rates and click-through rates.
The first thing you will have to decide in choosing software for your e-mail campaigns will be whether you want to use free or fee-based software. You can choose to use free software for e-mail marketing but you will be limited in terms of some more advanced options like personalisation, e-mail tracking, using CSV files etc. In addition, many “free” e-mail marketing software providers will include their ads in your e-mail newsletter.
Some other free software will have limitations on the number of subscribers and e-mails you can send.
If you opt for a fee-based solution, set a budget. There are a number of these available and most are not that expensive. Some companies charge per number of e-mails sent, while other companies have flat fees.
HTML e-mails and newsletters have better response rates than e-mail newsletters in plain-text format. Without sending your e-mail newsletter in HTML you won’t be able to do e-mail tracking.
Some solutions offer html templates. You will need to consider whether the available templates really work for you. Does it matter to you if readers recognise the same format from other newsletters? What kind of content and graphics layout do you need? Make sure who handles the graphics knows how to do it.
One major risk in e-mail marketing, which may actually undermine the integrity of the company who is sending the e-shot in the first place if not tackled beforehand is spam. The entire internet community is constantly trying to win this battle by imposing new rules and regulations in order to reduce the amount of unsolicited e-mail that is sent over the net. If not handled using the right tools there is a high risk when sending bulk e-shots that your e-mails would be considered as spam, leading to a potential blacklisting of the domain of the company.
In order to address the above problem the internet community developed a set of regulations to be able to control the spam issue as much as possible.
There are systems that cater for these rules and minimise the risks for the company, however make sure you tackle bounce backs and HTML syntax.
Ensure that your list is valid all the time! Constantly check that your e-shot list is valid. If you go beyond the allowed threshold percentage of bounce back on one shot then your domain is prone to be blacklisted.
Proper HTML syntax is key. While all of the above relates to the tool and process of sending e-mails in bulk, the HTML syntax is vital to ensure that a wide customer base receive your e-shot on all devices and platforms.
There is a way and means how to write HTML for e-mails so that this e-mail is accessible on smartphones, Mac or Microsoft e-mail clients and tablets.
You can see that choosing the right e-mail marketing software is very important, so choose your e-mail marketing software wisely.
Mr Zammit Ciantar is a director at InFusion Solutions, a local provider of custom-made web solutions.
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