The power and the glory: email marketing

Are you taking advantage of email for your business? Its power for reaching people one-on-one at reasonable cost is undeniable. Its glory as a means of getting your messages across is considerable–though somewhat tarnished with the rash of viruses, worms, glitches and misuse-and-abuse riding in its wake lately.

But email is still strong. Even with its faults, it’s still the most efficient and inexpensive way ever invented to reach tons of the right people. Do your homework before you decide to sign up for a service, though.

Rich Fein, who represents TangoConnect email service–one that falls into the moderate-price category–says you should look for a good balance between functionality, reporting capabilities, ease of use, and high deliverability. “Figure out how valuable each function is for your business and then decide if the price is worth it. But be sure to check on how the system protects your messages from being black-listed and helps you filter them for spam filters.”

Some metrics to consider: who opens the message–and how many, who clicks on which of the links in your message, which links are the most clicked, and who opts out. Putting affordability first will mean you will probably have to sacrifice some of the niceties like your ability to easily manipulate your data and the flexibility of your reporting. But for a small company and a relatively small list–and here, size really does matter… –$5000 to $10000 a month is off the charts, whereas $50 to a couple of hundred looks affordable.

Think about what you want to accomplish, how much of your resources you’re willing to commit to actually reading, analyzing and making use of the data you get. If you pay for extensive reporting capabilities, make sure you’ll make use of them. Then make a matrix of the functions, ask for customers’ names you can talk to, and go for it.

BtoB, the Crain’s publication for marketers, publishes this list of vendors who offer strong analytics with their services (some are standalone software products, others are subscriber services):

BigfootInteractive.com, Britemoon, CheetahMail, CoolerEmail, Digital Impact, DoubleClick, EmailLabs, Responsys, Silverpop, StreamSend, SubscriberMail. (Just put “.com” after each of these names and you’re there.)

But please remember. It’s what you put in those emails that counts. Easy-to-read content that offers solid value for the people you send it to.

And don’t forget to put a link to your business blog in there…

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