Successful online business can’t be led without email marketing. Many people know that it is very important to have a web site but having a web site is only one step in creating successful online presence. You have to stay in touch with your clients and prospects. You need to have a two way communication with your clients and prospects and best way to do this is to have an email newsletter. To send emails to your customer you need the right email marketing software.
Choosing your email marketing software is one of the most important steps you have to take in e-business. What are those necessary steps in choosing email marketing software?
Free or fee-based
The first thing you will have to decide in choosing software for your email campaigns will be whether you want to use free or fee based software. Some people may say: “There is much free software on the Internet. Why would I pay for email marketing software?” This is because some people still don’t have a habit to buy things on the Internet, especially non-tangible items such are software and services. Many people still don’t realize the power of email marketing so they think that can be satisfied with a free service.
One of the most famous contemporary economists, a Nobel Prize winner Mr. Milton Friedman said that there is no such thing like free launch. And there is another statement that says “You get what you pay for”. I usually agree with these two statements. These have been proven on many examples, especially on the Internet.
You can choose to use free software for email marketing but you will be limited for some more advanced options. Some big portals offer free services for creating groups. This is OK, but in this case you will send your email messages without many important features like personalization, email tracking, sending SMS, using CSV files etc. I don’t have to mention that many “free” email marketing software providers will include their ads in your email newsletter. I guess that you don’t want that in your business email communication.
Some other free software like the free version of Group Mail will have limitation on the number of subscribers per one session. In this case you will be able to send your email newsletter to 100 subscribers at once and in paid version to unlimited number of subscribers and create unlimited number of lists.
It is recommended that you use fee-based email marketing software for your business email campaigns. However, you always have to look for a provider who offers a free trial, as well.
You have to check if your email service provider offers these several important features.
1) Personalization – personalization is one of the most important things that email marketing software has to provide. With good personalization you will have better open rates and click-thru rates. Some more advanced email marketing software like Group Mail paid version offers if-then personalization for users who want to get the maximum personalization.
2) Monitoring – email marketing is popular and useful because results can be measured very effectively. You have to ask your email service provider if their product offers ability for detailed reports for open rates, click-thru rates, deliverability…If their main product doesn’t offer that it is important that they offer additional service that can be easily integrated with their main product.
3) Scalability – one of the main features of modern software is scalability. At this moment you might need software that will be able to send 1,000 emails at once but in 3 years your membership base can be 5,000. Will your software be able to handle that?
4) Creating HTML newsletters – HTML newsletters have better response rates than email newsletters in plain-text format so this is also another thing you have to consider in choosing your email marketing software. Without sending your email newsletter in HTML you won’t be able to do email tracking.
5) Integration with existing applications and databases – your email marketing software has to offer you ability to import data from existing applications and databases like SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, Access, FoxPro and Excel. Also, it is very useful that it can be integrated with popular email clients like MS Outlook.
6) International Character Support – Online businesses have to have a global focus so it is useful that email marketing software provides support for International Characters.
7) Plug-ins and updates – it is very important that the email service provider constantly works on creating useful plug-ins and updates in order to make your work easier and more effective.
8) Technical support –If you are an average Internet user without technical knowledge you will probably want to get support for your software. How good is your email service provider when it comes to technical support?
Desktop email software vs. Hosted ASP
Now when you know do you want free or fee-based software and what to look in your email marketing software you have to decide do you want to have desktop email marketing software or so called Hosted ASP. Both types have limitations and advantages. You have to choose the best option for you.
Desktop email software like Group Mail Plus, one of the leading desktop email marketing software, has several very big advantages. The most important is that details of your subscribers are kept private and secure on your own computer. Dot com crash is not so far behind us. Imagine that you have several thousand clients and use web based service from a company that will later go out of business. You can only imagine how that could affect your business and credibility! With Group Mail Plus you can manage an unlimited number of groups with unlimited number of recipients in each. You will have a larger initial investment than with Hosted ASP which charge a monthly fee, but you will a full control of your email campaigns and after some time of using your software you will repay it.
With Hosted ASP you will usually have a lower initial investment. You don’t have to buy hardware and software. However, price is usually determined by the number of emails you send so you will pay more how your membership base gets bigger so this option will be much more expensive than a desktop email marketing software option in the long run.
You can see that choosing the right email marketing software is very important. You have to bear in mind that the biggest investment is one that it is paid – twice. So, choose your email marketing software wisely.
Dejan Bizinger is a Contributing Editor for Infacta. Infacta is email messaging services company providing powerful, yet easy-to-use award-winning Group Mail, software for sending highly-personalized email messages and Group Metrics, software for email tracking. For more information visit: http://www.infacta.com