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Email is, by far, one of the most powerfully effective digital marketing channels around. It’s not only great for nurturing new leads through to becoming customers on auto-pilot.
But, well-timed automated emails are also awesome for nurturing existing customers and enticing them back to purchase again.
Both these strategies can really boost your profits with minimal ongoing cost and effort!
That’s why we believe a smart email marketing strategy is a must for every small business!
No other marketing strategy provides the ownership, in-depth control, and return on investment that email marketing does.
But as with any marketing strategy, you will need the right tools to do it well. And that means finding and implementing the right email marketing platform for your business.
So, how do you choose the right email marketing platform? Where do you even start with so many available?
We’re glad you asked, because we’ve got the answers all lined up inside this article.
Want to know the right questions to ask about email marketing software? Things to consider? A rundown of the most popular platforms?
Done and done.
We’ve even got some compelling facts and figures on why email marketing is so valuable for your business…
What’s Email Marketing Worth To You?
Let’s talk budget.
If you are a small business, your marketing budget is potentially quite humble. Luckily, one of the biggest appeals of email marketing is its affordability: you get a lot of bang for your bucks!
For example, with some platforms you can start building your list (aka collecting emails via opt-ins) for no cost – or minimal cost.
However, when starting out with your email marketing strategy, we recommend doing a bit of future forecasting. Sure, your list might start small, but the aim is to grow it big, right?
As such, you will need to find an email marketing platform that makes managing your strategy straightforward and easy. Automation is where it’s at.
Rather than opting for a free platform with limited capability, you might want to invest more money into one that will go the distance and streamline your entire email marketing process.
Not sure you can afford it?
When you consider the facts and figures about the ROI of email marketing, it’s more a question of can you afford not to invest in this channel?
Let’s take a glance at some of those facts and figures:
Now, we think that figure alone is enough incentive, but let’s throw in a few more for effect.
The average return on investment for email marketing is $44 for every $1 spent.
- Emails sent to a customer an hour after they abandon their shopping cart have a 6.33% conversion rate.
- 81% of SMBs depend on email as their main customer acquisition channel, and 80% for retention.
- According to MailChimp, the average email open rate is 21%; however, welcome emails have an impressive open rate of 82%!
- Emails with personalised subject lines generate 50% higher open rates.
- Nearly half of all consumers (49%) say they would like to receive promotional emails from their favourite brands every week.
- Email is 40 times more effective than social media for customer acquisition.
We could carry on with the jaw-dropping statistics, but we think that’s more than enough to convince you to put a few more of those marketing eggs in the email marketing basket.
With that established, let’s talk about…
Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Email Marketing Strategy
With a wide range of email marketing systems available, you also get a wide range of functions and features to choose from.
Before you get carried away by all the bells and whistles that you may or may not need, ask yourself
What do I need my email marketing system to do?
- Segmentation (aka splitting your email list into smaller subsets with things in common) is a crucial part of email marketing. When you use segmentation, it allows you to deliver more relevant email marketing, based on the segment’s main interests. This boosts how many people open your email (your open rate) and how many people click through to your website (your click through rate).
- If you want to take advantage of this brilliance, you will need a platform that allows you to segment your audience in various ways. While you may start with baby steps, as you build your skills and become more adept at segmentation, you will appreciate more advanced segmentation tools, such as advanced tagging capabilities (we’ll explain advanced tagging in more detail in a moment).
- Do you want to be able to send messages in more than one language? You will need multi-language functionality.
- If you want the ability to send personalised messages tailored to individual customers, you will need AI-supported solutions.
- Templates are great for saving time, but are they set up to support dynamic content and personalisation?
- How will you measure the success of your email marketing campaigns? Many platforms have reporting capabilities allowing you to review key metrics such as open rate, click-through rate and unsubscribe rate. These are the bare minimums you should be tracking.
Key Things To Consider When Choosing The Right Email Marketing System
Once you have figured out what you need your email marketing system to do, it’s time to consider what else is offered by the platform to make your life easier.
Here are some key areas to look at:
Customer support – when things go wrong, or you get stuck using the system, you need responsive, helpful customer support. Find out whether your platform provides phone, email, chat, or social media support.
Integrations – email marketing doesn’t work in a vacuum. You may need to integrate other tools and applications with your email marketing platform. Check that your CRM, e-commerce, or CMS and POS solutions, for example, integrate with your chosen system.
Mobile-friendly – more than 50% of emails are opened on mobile devices these days, so make sure your email marketing software is mobile friendly.
Sending limits and upgrade options – while you may be happy to start with a 500 subscriber cap, there shall come a time (if you are growing your business well) when you need more. Figure out how many emails you will be sending a month to your subscribers, and make sure your plan supports that number. Then check your options for increasing your limits – or finding an unlimited plan – in the future.
Understanding Advanced Tagging
Advanced tagging is a fundamental part of email targeting. If you want to get the most out of your email marketing software, you will need to get your head around it at some point.
The beauty of email marketing is that you can go as deep as you like into targeting groups or individuals on your email lists.
What is advanced tagging?
The concept of a tag is straightforward.
A tag is a label you can apply to one of your email list contacts to provide specific information. It allows you to track the behaviour and actions of that individual in a range of ways.
Check out these examples:
- Any time someone clicks a link in one of your emails, you can tag them to indicate they are interested in the material featured in that link. This is useful to help target them with personalised offers or information down the road.
- Alternatively, if someone isn’t opening your emails or clicking your links, you can tag them, then take steps to rebuild their engagement.
- You can even tag people based on the products they have bought from you, what programs they’ve joined, how they joined your list, or which pages of your website they have visited.
All this juicy information helps you create highly targeted messages based on the particular interests and behaviours of each member of your audience.
Tagging assists you to segment your contacts and trigger automations. Advanced tagging boosts open rates, click-through rates, and ultimately, sales!
What Are The Best Email Marketing Platforms?
There are dozens of email marketing tools to choose from – a quick google search reveals a dozen at least. But some do stand head and shoulders above the rest. Here are our top picks.
Affordable and easy to use, this is an excellent platform for small or medium-sized businesses. The free option permits as many as 2000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails a month, along with a decent array of marketing tools.
Automation is available, and it integrates with a good variety of other applications. You will also find plenty of templates to help design your emails.
However, if you are looking for advanced customisation, flexibility, or email segmentation features, MailChimp may not fit the bill.
Learn more about MailChimp here.
This is my chosen recommendation for those starting on their email marketing journey. This system helps you design responsive emails and autoresponders and has built-in A/B testing.
There’s the option to send targeted emails to chosen subscribers, and you can even try it for free if your list has less than 1000 subscribers.
The best part about MailerLite is that it has an easy learning curve without sacrificing useful features.
Learn how to set up MailerLite for your business in a few easy steps with our Mailerlite Made Easy course.
Learn more about MailerLite here.
E-commerce based businesses will find plenty of attractive features in this platform. The automation features are impressive, and the included A/B testing tool is top-notch.
The monthly prices for different subscriber limits are more than reasonable considering the sophisticated tools available with this system. In particular, it’s fantastic when you need advanced tagging.
The downsides? There is no landing page builder, and the CRM and email builder aren’t the best compared to some of the other tools. But, we consider these a small price to pay for the other functionality and use Active Campaign ourselves at The Helpful Academy.
Learn more about Active Campaign here.
Although this system doesn’t include a drag and drop editor tool or a massive selection of templates, it does get the job done and is still navigable for beginners.
You will have an unlimited cap on emails, plus automation options, a sign-up form builder, tag-based segmentation capabilities, and a broad array of integrations.
Learn more about ConvertKit here.
Klaviyo was initially built for eCommerce stores, so this is where its strengths lie. Pricing tiers start with a free plan covering up to 250 contacts and 500 email sends. However, to get that freebie, you will have to accept the Klaviyo logo stamped all over your emails – not great for branding.
Step up in tier, though, and you can fix that problem. You will get features like automated emails, reporting, email templates, and one-click integrations.
Segmentation is handled well with Klaviyo, with a range of list-building options and advanced targeting capabilities, including tags. It also has impressive reporting and analytics functions.
This is a high-powered platform with a high price tag to match.
Learn more about Klaviyo here.
Ready to really master your email marketing? We have a number of awesome options that will have you making the most of this fantastic resource. The best place to start is with our Master Email Marketing course. Learn more here.
About the author:
Kat Soper is the Founder and Head Trainer of The Helpful Academy Online Business School.
Kat is passionate about helping start-ups and small businesses succeed and achieve their business goals so that they can achieve the lifestyle they desire (and deserve).