Marketing is a huge part of any business, and while social media has its merits, it is said that email marketing remains one of the most effective ways of communicating to this day.
Having decided that you want to invest in an email marketing service, it’s now time to compare the tens of options that you are faced with. Immediately, most business owners will want to know the cost and commitment period of any service, however here are seven key features that you should consider on top of this.
There are plenty of email services that allow you to send customized newsletters to a subscriber base, but deciding which template to send to which subscriber can be a hugely time-consuming task.
However, there are services that aim to speed up this process as well as provide consumers with more relevant content. Uses for automation are endless; take inspiration from some of these examples:
- Integrating your email marketing service with your website can allow you to spot any potential customers that fail to complete a purchase after adding items to their online basket. After a certain period of time, you can trigger an email that automatically sends out a discount code to entice the user to buy your products.
- Identifying buyers’ trends can also help you to provide more tailored content. Buyers who persistently buy items from a similar category can receive automated emails specifically designed to their individual needs. Though much time will need to be spent designing multiple emails or newsletters for different types of customers, they can then be left to run automatically in the background.
2. Cross-platform design
Early email marketing was written in plain text format, and it was well suited to recipients using traditional computer monitors. The way we access our emails has changed drastically, beyond smartphones and tablets to smartwatches and other unique displays. Sending a newsletter in plain text format is no longer acceptable as businesses are expected to cater to all types of displays.
HTML formatting has long been accepted as the next best thing, but find an email marketing service provider that supports CSS in order to tailor your template to each user’s device type.
Optimizing your messages for different types of displays will help you to remain consistent across your communication methods, boosting your brand’s professional image.
3. Subscriber management
Any email service provider will allow you to store a database of your subscribers’ details to make sending newsletters easy. There are, however, other steps that a good email marketing tool can take to make it more attractive to a business owner.
Often, a user’s email may be temporarily unavailable but not closed indefinitely. In marketing, this is referred to as a soft bounce. A good system will be able to identify soft bounces and either attempt to redeliver after a certain amount of time or re-categorize the email address as a hard bounce.
Emails that have hard bounced – when the recipient’s email is no longer in use – should be dealt with in-house with little to no input from you. Ideally, a marketing service will remove this type of email address from your sending list to avoid any complications, though keeping records of this could help to avoid any confusion.
Similarly, users may simply decide that they no longer want to receive marketing emails from you. Changes or cancellations to their subscriptions should be easy, and ideally be dealt with by the service provider you use.
4. Compliance with regulations
Subsequently, email addresses that are no longer in action should be handled according to the relevant laws and regulations. In the UK, for example, the GDPR sets out expectations that only necessary data should be held by a company. It also stipulates how this data should be held, and how long it should be held before being correctly destroyed.
Similarly, senders to customers in the United States should comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. This also details how marketing should be managed, including email subscriptions. Adding these hugely important considerations to your growing list of responsibilities as a business can be frustrating, so finding a marketing service provider that can manage this for you can be of great help.
5. Integration with other services
The automation section above describes marketing emails that can be automatically sent to potential customers; this typically relies on integration with your website. Take care that the company you use for your email marketing is able to integrate with the provider you use for your e-commerce website.
Though there are complex ways to interfere with coding to integrate various services, implementing this through an easy-to-use API is vital. This means that virtually anybody can set up such an integration without the need for technical expertise.
You may find integration with your social media accounts can be beneficial, as well as other loyalty and reward-based platforms.
These APIs aim to improve the subscriber’s experience, however they can also be used to improve your experience as a business owner. Consider integrations, APIs, and extensions that integrate with analytics services.
Whether you connect to an external analytics service such as the method used above, use an in-house number-crunching tool, or a combination of the two, analytics have become more important than ever.
The importance of SEO on your website has long been recognized, but it’s important that your marketing remains effective in such a crowded, noisy landscape. Use analytics tools to track conversions, click-throughs, and leads to your services or products in order to determine what is effective, and to rectify any ineffective methods.
7. Room for growth
No one business is the same as the next, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to email marketing. As your business grows, so will your communication streams, and changing service providers to adapt to your evolving needs can be a difficult process.
Find an email marketing provider that can cater to your business, both now and in the future. There are several ways to implement this, but among the best is a tier-based business model. Here, small businesses can pay for basic services in order to establish a following while keeping costs low, while larger organizations have the option to add more features as required.
Also check out the best online marketing services.