Email marketing is the act of sending a commercial message, typically to a group of people, using email. In its broadest sense, every email sent to a potential or current customer could be considered email marketing. It involves using email to send advertisements, request business, or solicit sales or donations. Email marketing strategies commonly seek to achieve one or more of three primary objectives, to build loyalty, trust, or brand awareness. The term usually refers to sending email messages with the purpose of enhancing a merchant's relationship with current or previous customers, encouraging customer loyalty and repeat business, acquiring new customers or convincing current customers to purchase something immediately, and sharing third-party ads.
Email marketing has evolved rapidly alongside the technological growth of the 21st century. Prior to this growth, when emails were novelties to the majority of customers, email marketing was not as effective. In 1978, Gary Thuerk of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) sent out the first mass email to approximately 400 potential clients via the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). He claims that this resulted in $13 million worth of sales in DEC products, and highlighted the potential of marketing through mass emails.
Unlike regular campaigns, an automation is a targeted email or series of emails that you can set and forget. From welcoming new subscribers to following up with a customer after a purchase to rewarding your customers with a special incentive, automation helps you streamline your communications with customers so you have more time to focus on creating content and increasing ROI. Plus, you can design, send, and track order notifications to update customers on purchases they made from your store.
The primary purpose of a transactional email is to convey information regarding the action that triggered it. But, due to their high open rates (51.3% compared to 36.6% for email newsletters), transactional emails are an opportunity to introduce or extend the email relationship with customers or subscribers; to anticipate and answer questions; or to cross-sell or up-sell products or services.
Next up is building an email newsletter. The best services offer several ways to do this; you can import your own HTML, start from scratch, or use a predesigned template. Most of these services have drag-and-drop UIs that let you choose exactly the elements you want to include, as well as image libraries in which you can store assets such as your logo or company photos. Tools that let you test your emails for spam are also essential since there are some seemingly innocuous terms that may send up red flags and drop all of your hard work into your subscribers' junk folders or, worse, get your emails banned before they ever reach their recipients.
For example, if you see that the majority of your signups are being generated from forms you’ve shared on Facebook and Twitter, then you might want to focus on connecting with your customers—and potential customers—through social media. You can even create segments to target people who joined your list through a specific method, whether it’s an integration like Facebook, an app like Mailchimp Subscribe, an e-commerce integration, or a hosted form. And if there’s a specific page on your website you want to track signups from, you can add a hidden field to your embedded form and place it on multiple pages.
Companies considering the use of an email marketing program must make sure that their program does not violate spam laws such as the United States' Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM), the European Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, or their Internet service provider's acceptable use policy.
Getting started shouldn't be daunting. Generally, you'll know right away whether you like a user interface (UI) or not, and most of the contenders we reviewed offer free trials so you can poke around before dropping any cash. Luckily, most of these services have modern-looking graphics and uncluttered layouts. These are not the complex business software UIs of yesterday. Be careful, though, as some free trials require a credit card. This means you need to be sure to cancel your trial before you're billed if you're not happy with the service.
I haven’t heard of Feedblitz – just looking at their website now. Appears that they’re a Feedburner replacement specialising in RSS-to-email (sending your blog subscribers an email about latest posts). Their pricing looks a bit steep (considering Feedburner was free) – so I’d probably choose Mailchimp or Aweber over them? That way you can message up to a few thousand people free of charge.
And that leads us right into understanding service pricing and packaging. The email marketing services we reviewed range from about $3 per month to send out 500 emails per month in Zoho Campaigns to as much as $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts in Pardot. Many email marketing plans include unlimited email sends each month and bill you based on the number of subscribers. If you have a small list, then look for a company that offers a free plan, a low-cost plan for several hundred subscribers, or even a pay-as-you-go plan. On the flip side, many of these services also offer high-volume plans with up to 100,000 or more contacts. Sometimes this requires a custom plan that has to be arranged directly with a sales rep. If you're willing to commit, then look for the companies that offer discounts if you pay yearly rather than monthly. A few also offer money-back guarantees.