Small Business Toolkit for Busy Entrepreneurs
Our series on Small Business Toolkit for Busy Entrepreneurs continues with a new blog post on Tool to Send Promotional Emails. Here are previous blog posts:
A good email marketing program is an essential for growing your small business and increase your revenue. The first step is to find the right Email Service Provider (ESP). In this blog post, we will discuss, How to Choose an Email Service Provider (ESP). Choosing an Email Service Provider (ESP) can be a difficult task but if you know what to look for, then this process can become easier.
An Email Service Provider (ESP) is a service that hosts email marketing services on their servers, which are specifically optimized for this purpose. While you hold your email marketing account and send out emails using a Web browser, the ESP's servers and Internet connections do the difficult task of sending bulk emails. If you tried to send bulk emails through your regular Internet Service Provider (ISP), your campaign could be blocked, as regular ISPs will prohibit bulk mailings.
Here are some criteria to consider before selecting your ESP:
1. Subscribers Profile
Your ESP should enable you to manage detailed profile of your subscriber. You should also be able to segment lists of subscribers by demographic and other criteria, Targeting your mailing list with content relevant to them leads to more successful email marketing campaigns.
2. Flexible Design Options
ESP web interface should provide you an easy to use email composers with the option to select from readily available email templates. In addition to this, it must have provision to add your logo and colors which suit your brand. It is also important to have the ability to set PC and Mobile version of the email. In recent, majority of the people use their mobile devices to check email. Your email must be easy to read on mobile devices.
Your ESP should provide some of the must automation tools such as email delivery time and date. In addition to built-in segmentation and targeting options, you should also be able to automate triggered emails based on your subscribers' website activity.
Detailed report is a must to understand the effectiveness of the email campaign. This should at least includes email delivery rate, email open rate and click on link rate. Good Reports module is an invaluable feature as it helps you to measure the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
5. CAN SPAM compliance
Your ESP should provide customers to comply with the CAN SPAM Act and make it very easy to do so. ESP should automatically include an unsubscribe link in every email sent through their service (and automatically remove these addresses from your lists), as well as verify that all emails are sent from a valid, working email address. Most ESPs also require you to send only to lists of subscribers those who have opted-in to receive emails from you.
6. Free Trial
Most ESPs offer a free trial. Do a test of the services and to see if the service meets your needs.
Do not sign up for an Email Service Provider, who demands commitment beyond a month. If you are unhappy with the service, you should be able to cancel and switch service provider.
8. Pricing and Plans
ESPs host your email list on their servers. Some charge a monthly fee based on the number of emails on your list, while others charge based on the maximum number of emails you think you will send per month. Be sure to choose a pricing structure that fits your needs.
9. Customer Support
Your Email Service Provider should offer customer support through email and phone both.
Our choice of Email Service Provider is MailChimp. Which ESP do you use?