Email is not an option. If you think you can grow your business with a great site, blog, and social media, think again. These things will certainly generate a lot of traffic, but you want more. You want to capture those email addresses with great opt-ins and then begin to move those subscribers into your funnel. Email is the one way you can connect personally with those people who have indicated an interest in what you offer. Yes, you can have conversations on social media, and on your blog, and they are important. But if you really want to reach out to a target audience in a personal way, you will use email.
What You’ll Learn
- Why email marketing is not an option, but a must.
- How technology has transformed the email marketing process.
- The many features that email marketing services offer that will streamline your campaigns and automate processes.
- Features of the 6 most popular email marketing services so you can select one that fits your needs.
- What services you can get for free and/or at low cost.
Why Email Marketing Is A Must
You are about to get some really valuable information about 6 email marketing tools that will grow your business but first, let’s review exactly why email marketing isn’t an option.
- Social media can bring visitors to your site. But, if you want to change those casual visitors into something more, you need their email addresses in order to begin a more intimate relationship. The statistics on the benefit of email over social media are pretty astounding. In fact, email is 40X better than social media for customer acquisition.
- Email is low cost – a way to reach large numbers of consumers at very little cost – small businesses can compete with the “big guys”. And you can provide follow-up opportunities for readers with just a click to access the business website or any page on it. For every dollar spent for an email marketing campaign, average return is $44.25
- Email is customizable. Segmenting your subscribers into lists based upon their spots in your sales funnel allows you to provide messages and information that are specifically relevant to them and that provide them with value. Social media messages are for everyone and must be more general.
- Email is actionable. You are requesting a reply, a forward, a click-through, and/or a purchase. You can get results immediately.
- Email can be measured. With the right tools, you can know who is opening your email and what s/he is doing with it. You can use the metrics and A/B testing to modify and improve your marketing right away.
- 91% of Internet users check their emails at least once a day. Mobile users check even more often.
So, if you are hesitating about email because you believe it has become obsolete, don’t. Instead, plan a solid strategy for a campaign and get the tools you need to make it a success.
6 Of The Best Email Marketing Tools
The following 6 services are tops picks of many email service reviewers. You can check out review sites yourself to discover other services that have received good reviews as well.
About 10 million business globally use MailChimp. This tool allows you to
- Track your emails (who’s opening, who’s deleting, who’s forwarding, who’s responding to a CTA, etc).
- Create email templates for different groups, seasons, etc.
- Manage your subscribers by dividing them into groups for targeted mail.
- Set up automated delivery on a schedule you devise or on a more permanent basis (e.g., every time you publish a blog, it is sent out to lists you designate).
- Craft customized sign-up forms on your site.
- Receive metrics reports based upon the plan you choose.
If you use WordPress, there is a plugin which you install and then connect to your MailChimp account. If you don’t use WordPress, you simply establish an account and connect it to your website.
You can choose from among three feature options. For the free service, you can go up to 2000 subscribers and send out 12,000 emails a month. Growing businesses may to upgrade for more subscribers and an unlimited number of emails per month. The Pro Marketer Plan allows for unlimited subscribers and emails. With each plan upgrade, the metrics report you receive expand as well.
There are a number of other advanced features of MailChimp, and more are added all the time. It is so popular because it is so comprehensive, and even purchasing the pro plan is reasonable for a mid-sized or large company.
For both WordPress and non-WordPress sites, the service functions much like MailChimp, covering all of the same features, and accommodating to both beginner and advanced users. The free options allow all of the features, but there is a limit of 9,000 emails per month.
Newsletters have become great marketing tools, and a lot of businesses use them to keep subscribers informed of changes, events, new products and services, and so forth. Most email services have a newsletter option, and SendinBlue offers a free newsletter service for 60 days.
SendinBlue has its own WordPress plugin for ease of use if you use WordPress. Otherwise, you set up an account and connect it to your site in much the same way as MailChimp.
One feature that makes SendinBlue stand out is text messaging, in addition to all of the email and metrics options. There are times when loyal customers should receive text messages about special deals set up only for them, and this is a perfect way to reach them on-the-go.
GetResponse is super easy to use, is cloud-based, and has some pretty impressive features for a pretty low cost. Pricing is a bit different with this service because it is based solely on the number of subscribers you have. From that point, you can send as many emails as you want. There is also a great discount if you should decide to subscribe for a year as opposed to a month-to-month.
Here are a few great features of GetResponse:
- Over 500 templates from which to choose – and templates automatically convert to mobile device versions. As you edit the template, you will automatically see how it will look on tablets and smart phones.
- Automated delivery – you can schedule deliveries in advance, by dates and groups to receive, etc.
- Create unique landing pages for each group and have subscribers automatically directed to those landing pages through differentiated emails to each group. For example, you may want to provide a special sale to your loyal customers. Notify them via email and they will be taken to that landing page. By the same token, you might want to provide a welcoming discount to those who have yet to purchase anything. They will be directed to that page. Landing pages come with an extra cost, but the personalization is well worth it.
- Create webinars through this service, and invite specific groups via your emails.
- Business owners who use this service say that the support feature is great – 24-hour chat is one feature.
Many reviewers rave about Benchmark as the best email marketing service for small businesses. One of the reasons for this is that it is so easy to use. And within that ease of use, there is a large variety of designs to choose. It has several great features:
- Absolute beginners can create great emails using the templates that the service offers.
- No downloads or installations – this is an SaaS service.
- For non-techies, there is a drag and drop editing feature; for those who know code, there is a code editing feature.
- All of the normal features of grouping lists and automating delivery are here
- Because it is really built for small business, the metric are very basic too.
Pricing for Benchmark basic plans is inexpensive, and there is a forever-free plan if the business is okay with a small Benchmark logo in the lower corner of each email. Benchmark is also completely free for any non-profit organization.
Up until this point, all of the email marketing tools covered have been for creation and distribution of emails to be sent out to designated lists of subscribers. But long before those emails are crafted, it is necessary to get subscribers. And subscribers are captured by enticing casual visitors to opt in to receiving your emails. These opt-ins occur by way of forms you place on your website, in strategic locations.
The opt-in forms themselves play a big role in whether a visitor signs up or not. There are three concerns:
- First, there are privacy concerns. Visitors do not want to give a lot of information when they complete a form, and you need to be very aware of this.
- Second, the number of fields on the form should be kept to a minimum. The more fields, the less likely the sign-up will occur
- Third, the text that appears in the form fields and on the entire form itself may cause people to bounce
OptinMonster lets you design opt-in forms from a number of templates and then place them around your site. You then use this tool to track the performance of opt-ins from your forms to determine which work the best.
Because opt-in may also be a factor of where the forms are placed, it is a good idea to conduct A/B testing by placing one version in a spot for a specified amount of time, tracking the success rate. Then, change out the form and run testing on the second option. The analytics will tell you which version of the form is more successful, and, as well, which placement spots have been the best for capturing subscriptions.
Exit Lead Boxes Also An Option
You’ve seen these yourselves. Just as you are ready to leave a sit, a box pops up with an offer with an opt-in form. You can generate these for your site through OptinMonster.
Response is another free email service that offers all of the important features in it basic package:
- You can choose from among a wide variety of templates and designs, and can add your own compelling content marketing text and images as you wish, moving them around until you have just what you want.
- All emails are automatically adjusted for mobile devices.
- Automatic delivery set up in advance.
- Autoresponder emails to welcome new subscribers or thank customers for purchases.
- Easy-to-read reports so you know how well any email campaign is going – gives key stats so you can keep what’s working and change what is not.
Like all the others, there is a free plan that is limited in number of subscribers and total number of mailing a month. But, for a small business starting out, this is a great tool, and you can opt for the paid plans as you grow.
Wrapping It All Up
After reading through this post, you should now understand a few important concepts:
- Email remains one of the most important marketing tools you have in your bag of strategies.
- If you are not using a strong email marketing campaign, you are leaving a lot of money on the table, money that your competitors are earning.
- Technology has made email campaigns so streamlined and easy to use that even the total beginner can design and develop one.
- You have lots of options for free campaigns to get you started.
While most email marketing services offer the same basic features, some are easier to use than others, and some offer more for free. In general, though, when you select a service to use, you will want to ensure that you are getting the following features:
- The ability to easily and quickly design and edit attractive emails with templates, colors and images.
- The ability to set up differentiated groups, so that you can target emails based upon the type of subscribers.
- Auto-respond and auto-delivery features that will let you personalize your communications and schedule email deliveries on a schedule you set.
- Opt-in box creation (you may want to use a distinct service for this feature).
- Customer support and tutorials.
- Usable analytics reports that can help you make decisions about changes you may need to make.
- A/B testing to compare two or more elements you choose to use.
There is just no need to agonize over email marketing anymore. With the right tools, you can use this strategy, reach all of your subscribers in a personal way, and do it all at minimal cost. What’s not to love?