Despite the appearance of its much younger and cooler cousin social media, email marketing is still one of the most effective tools in your marketing arsenal, and it is possible to achieve some truly fantastic ROI. You may be thinking “I hate spam”, and so do I, so does everyone! Effective email marketing is not spam, it is complimentary, it fulfils needs and it drives desire (and in turn revenue).
Although relatively low cost compared to the likes of TV, pay per click or magazines, email marketing can still be an expensive option for many small businesses.
Here are my tips on where to go to find great email marketing resources that are great value, or even free.
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The email template
Presuming you don’t have anyone in-house to create an HTML email template for you, you still don’t have to spend hundreds outsourcing it to a freelancer or an agency. With a little bit of patience you can have your own branded email template for as low as $15, or even free.
Mail Chimp (more on them below) have some fantastic free newsletter templates for you to download. Some of them have basic branding already included so you just need to add your logo.
Others are completely brand free for toy to adapt to exactly how you need them.
If you want access to a bigger range of newsletters, Themeforest have a huge collection, with most of them only costing $15 to $20. There are currently over 500 to choose from and these are really high quality and easy to adapt to your needs.
If you aren’t too hot on editing HTML/ CSS, Campaign Monitor have been kind enough to create a template builder tool which will guide you through creating a free HTML template without doing any coding.
Sending the email
Obviously you don’t want to send every email by hand, and by using your own computer or server to send out hundreds or thousands of emails every month, you run the risk of being added to one of the centralised spam lists.
If this happens the likes of Hotmail and Gmail won’t let your emails in. The best approach is to use a 3rd party specialist. The good news is there are some great low cost options.
Mail Chimp is very well known within web design and agency circles and they offer a free plan for 2,000 or less subscribers and up to 12,000 emails per month.
If you want to send more than that, their prices start at $10 per month which is still incredibly cheap.
Another popular option for small businesses is dotMailer who are a little bit more expensive but they are UK based (Mail Chimp are in the USA). Their prices start from £9.99 per month for up to 250 contacts, or £14.99 to email 500 emails.
Tracking email performance
The software you choose to send your emails will (or at least it should) tell you delivery stats, bounce rates, open rates and occasionally clicks.
However, to be able to continue tracking visitors when they land on your website you will need to use a tool such as Google Analytics.
I would personally recommend adding Google Analytics tracking to every link on an email marketing piece that send people to your website.
Make sure you sue a logical naming convention that will make sense when you look back, and keep it consistent across every email. E.g. www.yourbrand.co.uk/ ?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=March13&utm_campaign=Free-trial
This way you can get information on which pages they looked at, how long they stayed on your website and what they bought.
Totaling up your investment
So, if we go for Mail Chimps’ $30 per month plan which will let me email up to 2,500 subscribers an unlimited number of times a month, and use the a $20 template from themeforest, that is a grand total of $50.
That seems like a decent investment in customer retention and revenue generation to me.
Here are some great articles that go in to more detail about writing email marketing in general…