Email Marketing Services

Kelly “Rags” Ragland is owner and operator of Rags to Stitches Productions, a holistic advertising-specialty company providing a range of services from web design and development to customized apparel.

Among the multiple avenues for marketing online, email marketing remains an important element of any Internet campaign. And while the concept may seem relatively simple, there are many aspects to consider to make the process legal, professional and, above all, successful.

In terms of these three values, an email-marketing service can pay for itself. These are simply tools to assist businesses in managing and running email broadcasts. They do not write or create emails but provide a vehicle to create professional email presentations formatted properly for delivery to qualified subscribers.

Scratching the surface

First, consider the task of managing your list of subscribers, their profiles and email addresses. Using your basic address book can be a cumbersome chore. Potential customers and existing clients provide their email address and demographic information, which must be kept secure and organized. While an existing address book has the elements necessary for managing a list and database, an email-marketing service offers more.

Duplicate email entries, a change of an email address or contact information, bounced emails from invalid or cancelled email accounts and requests to unsubscribe are time consuming when using an address book or other information manager... not to mention the entry and management of demographic information. Email-marketing services do these chores automatically by allowing users to manage their profile and contact information online, filtering bounced emails into a report and providing a function for users to subscribe and unsubscribe from your list. They also offer categories from which subscribers can choose based on their interests, allowing businesses to manage subscribers and target their particular needs and getting the right products and services dropped into inboxes with more focus on making a sale.

Features as such make email campaigns become more effective, not only in the arena of targeting customers’ interests, but also by tracking the results of sales efforts—for example, using an existing list of email addresses to which you decide to send a sales campaign to help unload discontinued products. You create the email, send it to 500 recipients and wait to see if some orders come in from your website. How do you know who received it? Who opened the email and who actually visited your website and responded to your call to action? 

Email-marketing services have these answers and more. They allow users to view reports on who opened the email, who clicked through to the website, and what products and services on which they clicked to investigate. Bounced email addresses are in a separate report for easy one-step removal from your list. Duplicate entries are brought to attention before an accidental duplicate mailing can occur. In-depth reports are created that can shed light on how effective a particular email marketing campaign is. Furthermore, one can rest assured that the email was formatted correctly for each individual’s email program and the message arrived in a professional manner without error.

This only scratches the surface on what makes email marketing services so valuable. The reports generated can be exported for use in an existing information manager, client directory or address book. Should a computer fail or you upgrade to a new one, the list of email addresses and database are in no way lost or in need of being recreated. When users subscribe or unsubscribe it is done automatically. A list can manage itself and subscribers’ information is secure. You can also view a list and sort it by state, interest group and other criteria.

Email-marketing services also stay compliant with The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM) with no effort on the part of a particular business. On December 16, 2003, President Bush signed the CAN-SPAM act, which became official legislation January 1st 2004. CAN-SPAM requires commercial email messages to be labeled, to include working opt-out features and instructions as well as the sender’s physical address. It requires proper usage of subject lines, headers and more. Non-compliant emails are considered illegal and one can indeed press charges if they so desire. Although the act has yet to effect spamming in whole, it is safe to say that, as a professional with permission to blast email to multiple recipients, being compliant with the act makes recipients more comfortable with a business as well as keeping Johnny Law and possible fines away from your doorstep and bank account.

Presentational interface

Email-marketing services come with templates that make email presentation professional-looking and attractive. The novice computer user can easily upload a logo and run with the templates to deliver emails that appear just as professional as those web designers create. With some creativity on the generating end, one can even create a custom template to complement a corporate identity and website. Plus, your message gets across to your list effectively and error free, increasing the chance of getting customers’ attention and having them shop with you. Also, most come with holiday templates for special greetings throughout the year, themed templates for seasonal promotions and more that generate interest and promote your message with class.

The interface for users to subscribe and manage their information is also a key element. Internet users are more conscious today more than ever about entering personal information into a website form. They want to see a privacy policy and they want to be confident that their email address won’t fall into a third-party’s address book. They want to know exactly what they are signing up for and expecting to receive. Using an email-marketing service provides the interface and functions that give website visitors the peace of mind that you are doing business in good faith when it comes to email broadcasts.

Service options

Email marketing services range in cost and boast a variety of features and functions. One such service is Constant Contact (www.a-stitch.com/constantcontact.html). At $15 per month with the first 60 days free, the service is cost-effective and valuable to any business.

Other services to consider include iContact (www.icontact.com), Benchmark Email (www.benchmarkemail.com) and Mail Chimp (www.mailchimp.com). All of these have online tutorials and help sections to help get started and become familiar with the use of their services.

Email marketing is a strong and effective means of advertising whether you have a website or not. Email-marketing services make the process simple for you to manage and makes your business look more professional, which can only lead to success in your email-marketing campaign.