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Using Email Marketing Software: email service provider, introduction

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Introduction to Email Marketing: what is email marketing?
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To manage your email marketing campaigns, you will want to purchase and use an email marketing software. When
using email marketing software, a couple of other marketing strategies are still in place. Online, you should have all other
essentials for the best possible exposure of your business as well as your product. A company website, blogs, and social
media should also be a part of your marketing strategy, and they should work in conjunction with each other and with
your email marketing strategy as well. We will discuss this further when we talk about the opt-in process.

Setting up your email marketing program should also be an offline process as well. You are going to be able to obtain
customers through multiple forms of media, and doing it offline is no exception. In the following sections of this chapter,
we will discuss how to build your customer base through lists and the opt-in process. Though not entirely preliminary
steps, these next few sections will be the basis from which your email marketing strategy will come into being.

Choosing an Email Service Provider

Choosing an Email Service Provider

The most important part of starting up your email marketing program is to obtain software specifically for sending out
emails. There are hundreds of pieces of software available for purchase, each offering different tools for obtaining customers
and sending out emails. Some even provide tools to analyze certain data to track customer behavior. The providers of
these pieces of software are known as email service providers (ESP). Here is a list of some popular ESPs.

  • Constant Contact
  • EmailDirect
  • GetResponse
  • Xert Communications
  • Contactology
  • Emma
  • iPost
  • YesMail
  • Net Atlantic
  • ContactLab
  • Sendloop
  • Elite Email
  • Vidi Emi
  • CommuniGator
  • Boomerang
  • Sailthru
  • eConnect Email
  • ExpertSender
  • Cyberimpact
  • Mayoris AG
  • L-Soft

Working with an ESP is a crucial step to getting bulk email sent to current and potential customers. Even if your email
list has as few as a hundred email addresses, InternetService Providers (ISPs) are not apt to allow such a massive flow of
emails to be sent. ISPs watch out for high volume activity like sending bulk email, so doing an email marketing campaign
on an ISP will warrant suspicious activity. Your organization can get blacklisted, meaning the organization email system
will become frozen until it gets back on the ISP's good sender list, also called the whitelist.

Having an ESP on your side is beneficial because you can have massive amount of emails sent without getting blacklisted. The
ESP is usually ISP friendly and can work on a much larger scale and give you lists that can be segmented and categorized.
So let's take a look at what you need in an ESP.

What to Look for in an ESP

Each ESP has something different to offer. To be a successful company, you are going to want something that offers the
most service for what you pay. You may have to pay just a little more for the more advanced services, but this decision is
based on your business's budget, priorities, and strategy. Here are a few things to consider when looking at an ESP to use.

  • IP Address: Private or Shared? – IP addresses are like phone numbers: it is the indication of the email's
    origin. Ask yourself if it is worth it to be sharing an IP address with another organization. It would be like
    sharing a phone number with someone else, and this is probably something you do not want to have. After
    all, if one organization sends out emails that get too many spam complaints, the ESP could be blacklisted
    and you will have to share the repercussions of another organization's mistake. Ensure that your ESP can
    provide you with a private IP address.
  • Customer Support/Training – The people that run the email marketing software are going to have to learn
    how to use the software. Since each piece of email marketing software is different, there is no guarantee
    that your employees will know from the start how to run the software. Be sure to sign up with an ESP that
    provides support and training for your organization.
  • Robust Infrastructure – You should have an ESP that has fast Internet connections through multiple sources
    as well. You should also sign up with an ESP that has hardware redundancy, a term for engineering that
    ensures a fail-safe or backup. The reason you should have an ESP with hardware redundancy is because
    some ESPs have click-tracking tools that let the user's click go to the ESP first and get redirected to your
    website. If a server fails, the user cannot get to your website since it must go through the server first. Ask the
    ESP what its infrastructure consists of.
  • Good Reporting – Some ESPs offer reports that show how successful your emails are, such as deliverability
    success, click-through rates, and open-rates. The reports should also be user friendly.
  • SPAM Compliance – The ESP you choose should offer compliance to SPAM, the laws we discussed briefly in
    the introductory chapter. This is a good indication that the ESP you are potentially considering is responsible
    and wants to ensure that is does not get blacklisted. Be sure to choose one that requires your organization to
    comply with the law and makes it easy to do so.
  • List Segmenting – This is a very important feature that you should have when signing up for an ESP. List
    segmenting is the key component to running a successful email marketing campaign because it allows
    targeting. You can target certain demographics and categorize email addresses to customize content specific
    to their wants and needs. This will be discussed in greater detail in another chapter.
  • A/B Testing – This is a term that refers to testing which emails work and which ones do not. It is important
    to test out different versions of an email message to see how well it does. A/B testing allows you to try out
    different styles and techniques for things like your subject line, email content, etc. The purpose of this is to
    see which version does the best and most of the time, this process is done by sending two versions of an
    email to a divided email list. In conjunction with reports on success rates, this will be an essential element to
    your email marketing campaign.
  • Free Trial – Some ESPs offer a free trial to test drive the software and service. Try out any free trials of ESPs
    first before deciding on investing in an ESP.
  • No Term Contract – The shorter the term of the contract, the better. You should have a no term contract to
    allow you to switch ESPs if you are unsatisfied with the software and service of the current ESP. If you do
    not have a no term contract, the commitment length should be no longer than a month.
  • Pricing Plans – Finally, your ESP should offer a reasonable price for the service that they offer. Don't be
    afraid to shop around and get recommendations on which ESP to use. Some offer a pricing plan that is on
    a monthly basis and is determined by the maximum amount of emails you could potentially send. Others
    require a monthly payment based on the number of email addresses on your built up list. Be sure to sign up
    with an ESP that fits your budget as well as your organization's needs.

The benefits of using an ESP are very apparent, and they offer different tools and services. Best of all, they do a lot of heavy
lifting by ensuring you are able to send out bulk emails. Still, the tools available are what will help your email marketing
strategy be successful and efficient.

Be aware that if you want accurate reports for efficient marketing, you may have to spend a little more money to get these
elite features. Ask yourself if these features are going to be worth if for your organization. Do you have the budget for
those features? Are they necessary for the type of organization and the demographics you are looking to obtain?

Data analysis is a valuable tool, especially if you have a diverse crowd. Large organizations use these features because their
customer base is so vast, especially if the products they sell are diverse. A bookstore might offer personalized emails to
different kinds of customers based on their interests. An email might be sent to them saying "if you like this, why not buy
that?" But a smaller business that specializes in one kind of item might not be so personalized. Analysis reports come in
varying degrees based on how much and what exactly they are able to analyze. Think of how big your organization is and
if these features will be essential or just a nice add-on. We will also discuss these reports in further detail in a later chapter.

Customer Relationship Management Software

Another piece of software to consider using in conjunction with your email marketing software is to have customer
relationship management (CRM) software. CRM is a method of marketing, online or offline, that is tailored to individual
customers. More importantly, it is a method that is tailored to returning customers.

Customer Relationship Management Software

Businesses want to spend their money wisely by increasing their ROI (return on investment). It is already tough enough
securing new customers, especially with email marketing. CRM, however, focuses on current customers because they
know these customers are already loyal to the company. CRM implements a strategy specific to those returning customers
by offering specific incentives. If the customer has a high enough trust in and loyalty to the company, they will likely take
the incentive and yield a better ROI. When done with enough customers, the total ROI can be tremendous.

CRM software can be used separately or synchronized with your existing email software. By working with the lists of
email addresses you have, it can handle customer requests, new orders, and manage contacts. Here is a brief list of some
brands of CRM software. These types of CRM software are also open source, so there is little to no payment involved.

  • Opentaps
  • Tunesta
  • Compiere
  • Vtiger
  • XRMS
  • SugarCRM
  • Ohioedge
  • OpenCRX
  • Enterprise Groupware System

Now that we have discussed the types of software you can use to start up your email marketing campaign, we will visit
them in a later chapter to talk about how to use them for full optimization and efficiency. Next, we will look at building
up email address lists and how to use these lists to optimize your email marketing strategy.

  1. Introduction to Email Marketing: what is email marketing?
  2. Using Email Marketing Software: email service provider, introduction
  3. Building Email Lists by Quantity: electronic communication, privacy
  4. Building Email Lists by Quality: introduction, list segmenting
  5. Crafting an Email: introduction, getting unread email noticed
  6. Analyzing and Tracking Your Email Marketing Strategy: introduction
  7. Resources: