What is email marketing all about?

Similar to how direct mailers were once one more popular advertising methods, email marketing  simply means sending bulk emails to a target audience. Usually your customers. Email marketing is usually a cost effective way of reaching out. To begin with, emails are almost free compared to traditional mail. You just need a computer and internet access.

Generally if you’re emailing to a small group of audience the above method would work. However over time, your email list would grow, and when you hit the hundreds or thousands email, then manually emailing these people may not be that practical.

For starters you’ll need a way to automate the sending of emails, and maybe customising each email by the recipient’s name. Then you’ll need to track the number of bounce emails, open rates, click rates, to know how effective your email campaign is. These figures also help you tidy your email list, so you know which emails are responsive, and which are “dead emails”. Finally you’ll also need to make sure the various mail providers like “Gmail”, “Hotmail”, and others don’t classify you as spam.

These are where specialised email marketing services come in. Companies like Vertical Response, or Mail Chimp provide their customers an end-to-end email marketing solution. You basically:

  1. Upload your email list
  2. Design your email / or choose from multiple templates
  3. Click send
  4. Everything would be automatically tracked (bounce emails, open rates, click-thru rates, and so on)

After 1-2 days you can login to your account, to look at the report to find out how well your email campaign went. Some email marketing providers go further to help you optimise / clean up your email list based on the number of “dead” emails it identifies, and other metrics.

You may wondering what then is a good “Open Rate”? Honestly it depends. Think about it, if you bought a database from a 3rd party company, you probably won’t know the quality of emails in the list. The word “quality” here means you don’t know if the people willingly signed up to be in the email list. It could be that these people participated in some lucky draw, and the merchant sold the email list obtained. You also won’t know how many of these emails are interested in your product / service.

In another scenario, the email list you have could be something you built from scratch. Assuming you have a high traffic website and you have a “Sign Up For Newsletters” box placed on the homepage. Generally people who sign up for your newsletters are genuinely interested in what you’re selling.

Comparing the two different scenarios, its quite obvious that the latter would have a much higher open rate. I guess if you’re really looking for a figure, then a good open rate benchmark would be about 15% – 20%

Good Practices of Email Marketing

First make sure you send our relevant and quality content to your target audience. Don’t keep spamming them with offers and advertising messages. After awhile, you’ll notice that your Open Rate and Click Rate would start to drop. Once that happens it’ll be quite difficult to re-build the trust

Housekeep your email list. Take out the “dead” emails, and you may also segregate out the “super” fans. Super fans means the group of people who consistently open the emails you send them, and click on the content to find out more. You may want to give exclusive promotions to this group of people

Keep the email subject short and to the point. This is very crucial is the email subject determines whether the emails gets opened, ignored, or trashed.

Make sure there’s an unsubscribe link where users can unsubscribe from your list.

How Effective is Email Marketing

This is probably a tricky question. When you buy online banner advertisement, you probably look at Cost Per Click (CPC) or Cost per thousand Impressions (CPM). When someone clicks on the banner, they’ll come to your website. It’ll then depend again whether or not they make that purchase.

Likewise for email marketing, you’ll need to calculate the total numbers of email in your base. Then consider the number of people who actually open the email, then the number of clicks to your website, and finally the number of people who purchase the product / service that you’re marketing.

For an email marketing sales funnel I generally use this estimate:

Number of emails sent x 15% -> Number of emails opened
Number of emails opened x 10% -> Number of emails clicked to my website
Number of emails clicked x 3% -> Number of purchases

Hence from the above, I would think if you’re driving a sale or a type of acquisition at the end point, email marketing may not be the best option. However if the objective is a constant brand reminder where you want to engage with your audience on a regular basis, then email marketing may be something worth considering.

Comparison of Popular Email Marketing Providers

There are 4 main email marketing software that are easy to use and popular online. These are mailchimp.com, verticalresponse.com, cakemail.com and aweber.com. In this section I will review the features and the pricing of each one so you can compare them all on one page. We do not earn referrals or commissions for suggesting these sites, so it will be a completely honest review.

Mail Chimp

Features

MailChimp is one of the largest email marketing providers and they have tons of useful features. Here are some of the best features that they have.

Detailed subscriber profiles for each subscriber
Easy automation and personalisation’s with prebuilt workflows
Optimized sending times and targeting features
Advanced analytics to track and see results
Many different design options for different teams and users
Email designer and templates
Fully responsive app which works on all devices
Split testing to improve emails as you go
Social sharing options to increase awareness

Pricing

0-2000 subscribers – Free (12,000 emails per month)
0-500 subscribers – $10.00 (Unlimited Emails)
501-1000 subscribers – $15.00 (Unlimited Emails)
1,001 – 1,500 subscribers – $20.00 (Unlimited emails)
1,501-2000 subscribers – $25.00 (Unlimited emails

You can calculate your cost for any number so I have picked some big milestone numbers. 5000 subscribers would be $50.00. 10,000 subscribers would be $75. 100,000 subscribers is $475 per month. When you start to get above 50,000 subscribers, you don’t have unlimited emails anymore, you are allowed to send 600,000+ emails per month.

Vertical Response

Features

Vertical response have many amazing features and well deigned emails, here are a list of their top features.

Professionally designed free templates with responsive designs
Beautiful email creation in minutes
Easy to create sign up forms to grow your list
Autoresponder and welcome emails built in
Mobile and social friendly
Tracking and testing delivery and engagement to see what is working
Scheduling so you can pick the perfect times to send
HTML editor to create your own templates
High delivery rates

Pricing

Free plan – 1000 subscribers, up to 4,000 emails per month
Monthly payment options
Basic – $17.60 – Same as free plan but unlimited emails
Pro – $25.50 – Same as free plan but unlimited emails, Facebook and twitter integration and exclusive benefits include a dedicated support contact, improved delivery rates, and an email template with your logo

As you get more subscribers it gets more expensive

2,500 subscribers
Basic – $26.40
Pro – $38.30

5,000 subscribers
Basic – $44
Pro – $63.80

10,000 subscribers
Basic – $66.40
Pro – $96.30

25,000 subscribers
Basic – $128
Pro – $186.60

40,000 subscribers
Basic – $200
Pro – $290

You will have to contact them for a private price quote if you have more than 40,000 subscribers.

Cake Mail

Features

Secure subscriber management
Mobile app so you can use the software on the go
Easy sign up forms for your visitors
Handcrafted free templates to use for your emails
Great delivery on all emails whether its 25 or 2.5m emails
Advanced easy to use analytics to see who clicked what, wand when
Automatic emails and newsletter functionality

Pricing

Free Plan – 30 days free trial – up to 500 emails to up to 500 contacts in the 30-day trial

Paid plan Monthly fees (unlimited emails)
0-500 – $8/m
501-1000 – $12/m
1,001-2,500 – $24/m
2,501 – 5,000 – $39/m
5,001 – 10,000 – $59/m
10,001 – 25,000 – $119/m
25,001+ – contact them for a private quote

If you pay yearly then you can save a little as well.

Aweber

Features

Aweber have many amazing features and they are one of the leading email marketing programs online. Here are some of their top features.

Easy to use Autoresponder follow up
Easy to create sign up forms
Very high email delivery
Setup email newsletters
Drag and drop editor
HTML email templates
Manage subscribers
Segment subscribers for better targeting
Email marketing tracking
Unlimited image storage to use in your emails
Split testing
Expert customer service

Pricing

First month $1
Subsequent months $19 – up to 500 subscribers – unlimited emails – 30 day money back guarantee
501 – 2,500 subscribers – $29
2,501 – 5,000 subscribers – $49
5,001 – 10,000 subscribers – $69
10,000 – 25,000 subscribers – $149
More than 25,000 subscribers – Contact them for a quote

Of the above, Mailchimp would probably be the most popular of the lot. They have ready WordPress plugins and have a huge community using it. Moreover there is a free plan if you have less than 2,000 subscribers in your list.