Email Marketing Solutions for Small Business

By Maria Peagler

Mar 18

This is one in a three-part series on email marketing. You can find each post in the series here:

Part I: How to Combine Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Part II: Email Marketing Solutions for Small Business
Part III: 3 Mistakes You’re Making with Email Marketing


Email marketing solutionsLast week I shared with you how critical email marketing is to any small business, as well as how I’ve perfected a solution that sends me leads everyday by combining social media and email marketing.

This week you’ll learn about email marketing solutions:  a line up of products and how to evaluate which one is best for your needs.

Why is email marketing essential?

Count how many times do you check email everyday? Now tally how many times do you use social media everyday?

Which number is bigger?  Bet it’s the email.

That’s why you need to use email marketing:  it allows you to contact your target audience in their Inbox.  You don’t have to rely solely on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social network is king to reach your fans.  Social media is great for creating relationships –>  email marketing takes that relationship one step further (closer to buying).

Which Email Marketing Tool ROCKS

What is my recommendation for the perfect email marketing tool?

The one you can stick with for the long haul.  

While many offer a free trial, it’s worth taking the time to evaluate each tool and how easy it is to set up and use.  Here are the factors I recommend you evaluate when deciding on which tool to use:

  • How easy is it to import my existing contacts?
  • How easy is to get started?
  • What is the quality of their online help and tech support?
  • What reports do they offer?
  • Can I set up an autoresponder (you create a series of emails to be sent out automatically every x days)
  • Do they require double optin? (This is a big flaw, in my opionion.  Double optin requires people to not only optin to your list, but respond again to an email that they want to receive your emails.)
  • How easily can you segment your lists and how? (group your subscribers into smaller lists)
  • What is their average open rate?
  • What is their average click-through-rate? (CTR)

Notice what I didn’t mention?  Cost.

It’s worth the investment to pay for a quality email marketing tool, because switching is a MAJOR headache that requires more time than it should.  It will also cost you subscribers.

How many?  I switched last year from iContact to Aweber and lost 75% of my list. Ouch.

But, it wasn’t all bad.  I was getting a much higher CTR with less subscribers, so in the end, I was no longer paying for dead weight on my list:  those people who never read or clicked on my emails anyway.

Here are the major solutions and my experience with each:

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is the big player in the market. They put a big emphasis on customer outreach and support, but frankly, they have to, because their product can be challenging to use.  I tried using Constant Contact as my first email marketing solution, and it didn’t work well with Mac contact lists.  So, it was out for me.

I have used it with client’s email marketing, and I always found it clunky to use.  Their support is great, but I don’t want to have to resort to support everytime I use their product.

Pros:

  • Huge variety of templates
  • Variety of methods to get subscribers, from regular optins from a web form to text-to-subscribe
  • Great tech support

  • Social media apps for getting subscribers via your social networks

Cons:

  • Challenging to set up and use
  • Doesn’t work well with Mac contact lists

iContact

iContact is a small company out of North Carolina who has been acquired by Vocus, a serious PR and marketing solutions company.  I started out using iContact because they worked easily with a Mac subscriber list and had great support.  I used their tool for years and would have loved to stick with it, but I outgrew what they offered.

Pros

  • Easy to import subscriber list
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Outstanding technical support

Cons

  • Limited segmentation ability
  • Limited methods for acquiring subscribers

MailChimp

Mailchimp is growing quickly and becoming one of the top solutions.  I haven’t used MailChimp personally, since I was already using iContact when they came on the scene.  They are a highly popular choice because they are free up to 2,000 subscribers.

Pros

  • Start for free up to 2,000 subscribers
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Social media apps for getting subscribers via your social networks

Cons

  • No support for free option
  • Templates are limited

Aweber

Aweber is the choice of most serious internet marketers, because they have a double-optin process that almost guarantees deliverability to your subscribers.  They are a robust solution, but not the easiest to use.  This is for more advanced email marketers that need powerful features not offered in other tools.

Pros

  • Excellent deliverability
  • Ability to segment list based on subscriber clicks
  • Social media apps for getting subscribers via your social networks

Cons

  • Double-optin recommended, not required
  • Only segmentation ability is via subscriber clicks

Your Action Item

If you aren’t already using email marketing, it’s time to seriously consider it.  You know I’m a fan of starting small, so begin by simply evaluating your options.  Visit the websites for each email marketing tool and see what they have to offer.  Which tool feels like a good fit?

Call their sales team and ask questions.  How helpful are they?

Sign up for a free trial and try importing your contacts.  How easy or difficult is it?

Create a basic email:  don’t feel like you need a fancy template:  pick a plain one and start there.  How comfortable are you using the tool and sending an email to your subscribers?

Once you’ve taken the tools for a test drive, make your final decision.  Commit to a regular email schedule, and reach out to your subscribers on a consistent basis.

See Part I of this series here.

What’s Next?

Next week I’ll offer easy wins to help you see results from your email marketing right away.  Feel free to share your email questions, experiences, and advice in the comments!

This is one in a three-part series on email marketing. You can find each post in the series here:

Part I: How to Combine Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Part II: Email Marketing Solutions for Small Business
Part III: 3 Mistakes You’re Making with Email Marketing

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About the Author

Founder of Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, Benjamin Franklin award-winner for independent publishing, award winning author of eight books, wife, mom, quilter and watercolor artist.

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(3) comments

[…] See Part II of this series here. […]

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Linda Franz March 27, 2013

Hi Maria, I received two copies of the newsletter today. Whatever is in them is not compatible with Eudora and the program freezes. I am not even able to delete them with Eudora open. I would be interested in reading it, but this method is not working. I had problems with the last one too but at least it was easier to delete. Do you have any suggestions, or should I just unsubscribe? Thank you, Linda

Reply
    Maria Peagler March 28, 2013

    Hi Linda –

    I use Feedburner to send my blog posts to your email, and I believe you’ve had issues with my emails before. Eudora is a long-standing email program, but I’m wondering if they’re keeping up with the latest technology. If you have another email program, I would try opening it in that and see if you have the same issue. Let me know how that works for you!

    Reply
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