In today’s digital world, all communication is not created equal. Choosing the right Email Marketing Service Provider can help to ensure that the content you send out is effective for your readers.
Email Marketing Service Providers (ESPs) give their users a platform to create email campaigns to send to content subscribers. Unlike single-user/small-scale email providers like Gmail and Yahoo! Mail, Email Marketing Providers provide strategic frameworks to manage large subscription lists, suggested templates and customization abilities, and metrics to measure results.
Email allows you to connect with your audience anytime, anywhere. It helps you share content that pulls readers in to your website and helps to build your brand. And even though email is a slower means of communication than social media, companies that embrace it as a strategic engagement tool are realizing huge benefits from email campaigns every day.
Email Marketing Best Practices
All emails are not created equal. There are several important things to remember when creating your messages:
- Apply Content Marketing principles. Provide your readers with the information they need and want. According to CM master Jonah Berger (@j1berger), content should be public and worth sharing (social currency), create top of mind awareness, generate emotional reaction, and provide utility and value. Stories are also a great way to wrap information into an easily read and remembered format.
- Pick a good subject line. Provide a concise, appropriate subject line that summarizes your content well. Keep it to 50 words or less and avoid three words that have been shown to trigger disregard: “Help”, “Percent Off”, and “Reminder”.
- Use your best timing. Research has shown that emails sent at night are more likely to draw engagement and that weekends dominate in open and clickthrough rates. Frequency is also important. Too many emails will cause readers to unsubscribe, but too few won’t allow you to build your brand. In the end, use research as a guideline to time your emails, but be sure to conduct testing to figure out what’s best for your audience.
- Embrace mobile. A study by Litmus found that 48% of emails are opened on mobile devices. You should be sure to design emails that are easy to read on these devices and that display in attractive ways (selecting mobile-friendly templates will help).
- Make your readers glad they subscribed. Send a welcome email to anyone who joins your email list and then continuously focus on good content that makes them happy to be with you.
Check out this infographic from Visually about best practices:
Understanding Key Metrics
The best way to get bang for your buck with email marketing is to pick a provider that offers you good metrics and reporting capabilities so that you can measure and track progress. Let’s take a look at the most important email marketing metrics:
- List Size: This one speaks for itself–the bigger the list, the more people you reach.
- Open Rate: The percentage of recipients who opened the email.
- Click-Through Rate: The percentage of recipients who clicked through the email to external landing pages.
- Conversion Rate: The percentage of individuals who made a revenue-generating transaction or signed up to subscribe to your list.
- Unsubscribe Rate: While not desirable, it is important to know the rate at which readers leave your email list. You can use this knowledge to identify issues and improve email marketing for your firm.
The Best ESPs
Just as with any other marketing tool, there are numerous email marketing provider options to choose from. Check out this comparison chart to see what company is right for you. Here’s an overview of our three favorites.
- MailChimp is an online marketing solution that allows you to manage contacts, send emails, and track results with interactive graphs and reports. Depending on list size, you can either use the service for free or pay between $10-$20/month. (And we use it here at NR Media!)
- Constant Contact offers a Small Business Marketing suite of tools that go beyond email marketing to include social media and event management. After a free 60 day trial, you can get access to basic email campaigns, contact management, and social sharing for $20/month.
- iContact provides professional email marketing tools that help you design effective emails, track results, and maximize your message with social media. Depending on the size of your subscription list, you can use iContact from $14/month.
In the end, your goal should be to leverage email marketing so that it supports your brand and improves the relationship you have with your audience. Good emails drive traffic to your website and increase the reach of your content. By paying attention to best practices, conducting testing, measuring performance, and working with reputable email marketing providers, you can reach a new level of positive engagement with your audience today.