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The Complete Guide to Email Marketing

About Preparing
As with anything that you're investing time and money in, preparation is key. Sure, professional email marketing is both fast and extremely inexpensive, but what about all the time and money you spent building your business? Get it right first so that you can reap the rewards of a well-laid plan. There's more to lose than just time and money.

Email marketing works. But you should not expect to send out 1,000 emails and have all 900 people show up for business the next day. An average of 30% of email addresses change each year. It's possible that many of the addresses on any current subscriber list are no longer valid. Also, many people suffer from email fatigue and are just not interested in subscribing to yet another newsletter. This can affect your list size.

You need a plan. You need to stick with the plan and tweak it. And you need to give your plan time to work. Don't forget our lessons on frequency.

Choose the Right Software?
There are many competitors that are ready to provide you with an email marketing solution. You are an expert in your field and you need a program that doesn't take your valuable time away. You have competition too. Unless you're a glutton for punishment, you'll probably want to get great-looking, reliable email marketing in an easy-to-use, non-time consuming package. Look for these features in your email service provider (ESP):

Email templates save you time because they are already formatted with a variety of looks and options. A good service should have at least a few hundred so that you can find the look that suits your company along with a theme that fits the purpose of your newsletter. It will be quicker to send out that special offer or e-coupon if you can just enter your text in a box and go.

A Drag-n-Drop Editor
Templates are a great place to start, but you might want to customize your newsletter with additional content or rearrange what's there. It should be easy to drop in your logo, pictures or even video so that you can concentrate on what you want to say.

Web-Based Software
As opposed to requiring that software be installed on one solitary computer, most services are cloud-based. Another term for this is Software As A Service (SAAS), which means the software is deployed over the Internet. You can access your lists, build your email newsletters and even view reports all from within a browser. Your campaigns live on the provider's servers and can be accessed from anywhere via internet connection. Your data is protected by password.

Tracking and Visual Graphs
Imagine how efficient you can be when you know who opened your email newsletters and whether they've clicked through to your links. You can accurately measure your campaign's effectiveness and interpret the data with email tracking visual graphs.

Social Media Integration
Your customers are on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Your email marketing should seamlessly integrate with these services with social networking tools. Recent studies have shown that social network users are 10% more likely to respond to email marketing than those who don't use them. The right service will let you market not only to the inboxes to your subscribers, but to the home pages of their social networks simultaneously, viewable and shareable with their friends in an easy click.

List Management
We dedicated a section to target marketing because it's important to segment your customer base and to market to those segments uniquely. Choose a service that lets you separate your lists easily and by whatever parameters you see fit for your targeted email marketing.

Online Surveys
A successful company not only offers great products and services, it listens to its customer feedback so that it knows what the market wants. It's helpful if you can include attractive, attention-getting online customer surveys in your newsletters and view the results instantly. Combine these answers with list segmentation and you have one powerful tool.

Online Sign Up Box
We'll explore list building next. But it's not hard to imagine that being able to put up a newsletter subscription signup box on your website, Facebook page, blog or anywhere provides a great and easy way to build your email lists.