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Audience Development Strategy

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

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.

Download a FREE copy of Best Email Subject Lines for Selling Premium Subscriptions and Memberships and discover an extensive list of email subject line frameworks that are consistently proven to sell and boost revenue for publishers.

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!

By Mary Van Doren

Lead Copywriter, Mequoda Group, LLC

As Lead Copywriter of Mequoda Group, Mary is responsible for developing marketing copy and design for clients including the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, The Dark Intelligence Group and MPL Communications. Mary directly tutors clients in SEO content marketing. She  has more than three decades of experience in the field in both marketing and journalism.

Writing career: With 15 years as a journalist and 16 more in marketing, Mary is an experienced strategist and copywriter in B2C, B2B and B2I for all online and offline formats. Her first marketing experience began with the Promotions Department at Academic Press in London. After returning to the U.S., Mary turned to newspaper reporting and editing for local newspapers in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, before switching to marketing copywriting for Don Nicholas and Blue Dolphin Group. Her seven years there included stints as senior copywriter and VP for Creative Services, developing concept, copy and direct mail packages for both B2B and B2C publishers, and managing a staff of writers and designers.

Diverse experience: After a move to Connecticut, Mary did contract writing for New York Life Insurance Co., and then spent five years as Chief Copywriter for Elsevier Business Intelligence, marketing publications, databases and conferences to C-suite executives in biopharma, devices and diagnostics. During this time she also launched an online business selling hand-crafted items, which led to serious study of SEO and other online marketing skills. Her training as a journalist allows her to become an overnight expert in any subject matter in order to be an effective copywriter to many different audiences. Her position as Lead Copywriter at Mequoda marks her second tour of duty with Don Nicholas.

Education: Mary has a BA degree in history with highest honors from Kenyon College, and spent a somewhat riotous junior year studying English history at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom.

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