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An Email Marketing Service is Small Business’s Best Friend

What should your email marketing service provide?

Email is technology’s gift to marketers. For good or bad, it allows companies to send word of their products and services into the inboxes of millions more people than your average direct mail sent to households at street addresses – 3.3 billion accounts, with more than 90% of Americans using email every day, according to MarketingSherpa’s Benchmark Survey. It’s faster, cheaper, interactive, trackable and more immediate than just about any communication technology we’ve ever had.

That’s why at Mequoda, getting our message into all those inboxes is one of the cornerstones of our method.

Of course, we have the resources and expertise to vigorously promote our blog, but not everyone does. That’s why there are literally dozens of email marketing services out there who can help even marketing rookies deploy professional, cost-effective email campaigns.

But with so many choices, how do you decide on an email marketing service? What should an email marketing service provide?

What you want from your email marketing service

There are several criteria to consider in choosing an email marketing service. These include the features that are included, user-friendliness, the analytic options that are available, help and support, and, of course, cost. Surprisingly, costs can vary widely, despite the competition that’s out there for these providers.

Most email marketing services include features that let you import contacts into their program, templates for creating emails, and various reporting functions. Look for extras in the email marketing service you choose: The ability to autosend emails when a specific event occurs, such as a visitor downloading a free report; social media functions; spam-checking functions, which we consider to be absolutely critical; and a survey option, something that’s nice but not mandatory to have.

Also consider the ease of use for your email marketing service. Navigation should be intuitive, and if you’re a real beginner, a WYSIWIG interface is essential. Some email marketing services include and HTML option for more advanced users.

As a measure of the demand for a good email marketing service, it appears that one prominent provider, Constant Contact, finds it cost-effective to advertise on TV – just last night I saw a commercial while watching the Sci Fi channel. But don’t jump on an email marketing service just because it’s the one whose name is most familiar. We found several websites that actually compared dozens of services and rated them in a way that’s much more helpful in choosing your service provider.

Check out TopTenReviews, for example, which offers numerical scores to quantify comparisons. Here you’ll see that another popular email marketing service, iContact, is ranked number 1 because of its score, but the review doesn’t take into account the cost, which among the Top Ten is in the middle range for iContact. Notably, the number 2 ranked email marketing service is much less well known. Benchmark Email’s score is only slightly lower than iContact, but its prices are the second lowest among the 10 services rated, making it a best buy in our eyes.

Another site, Web Designer Depot, has a good review of many top email marketing services. This review is dated to 2011, so keep that in mind, but it’s a clear explanation of all the features and will at least give you the understanding you need to ask informed questions when you’re doing your due diligence.

We also like the review system at ChooseWhat, a website dedicated to helping small businesses.

In short, there’s no shortage of email marketing service companies, and no excuse not to jumpstart your marketing with a professional email campaign. And if you have your own recommendations based on experience, please share them with the community!

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