Guest Post by Monica Sims, iContact Community Manager
Email marketing has been around for years, but a lot of companies have yet to adopt it as part of their marketing mix for various reasons. We’re here to define it better for you, give you a bit more information about it, and touch on how it can help your business.
First, what is iContact?
iContact is a permission-based email marketing service. Let’s look at the two parts of that statement:
“Email marketing service”: iContact allows you to create beautiful emails with images and colors and schedule when your email is going to be sent to your list. Our software also allows you to track what people did with your email. You can see who opened and clicked on your email. You can also see which email addresses never received your email (bounced) and who unsubscribed. iContact processes these bounces and unsubscribes, so you don’t have to do anything.
“Permission-based”: In order to send email through our system, you have to have permission to send to the people on your list. That permission can come from a sign-up form on your site; it can be a list that you have sitting next to your cash register at your store. It CAN’T be email addresses you “found” on the internet or email addresses you purchased from someone else, you get the picture. People have to give you permission in order for you to send them an email.
So that’s what iContact is. Now, here’s why it should be a part of your marketing mix.
Email marketing is the sending of a commercial message to a group of people through email. It’s typically sent out with the purpose of getting people to buy from you or donate to your cause. It’s also meant to encourage brand loyalty and trust with customers.
Here are the top six questions we receive from people who have never used an email marketing service before:
Why should I use email marketing?
Email marketing has been proven to be the most effective online marketing channel, with a return on investment (ROI) in 2011 of $40.56 for every dollar spent. Rather than depending on your customers to return to your blog or your website over and over, by sending them an email they are reminded of your company and keep you top-of-mind when they are ready to buy.
Can’t I just send my email through Outlook or Gmail?
Messages sent through Outlook and Gmail don’t allow for automatic unsubscribes, have the potential to be blocked by spam filters and could expose your entire list if you accidently put everyone’s email in the To: line.
An email marketing service will also process the bounces, unsubscribes, and the relationship with the Internet service providers (ISPs) to keep you on their whitelists.
Do I need technical skills to use one of those email services?
No. You don’t need to worry about how any of it works behind the scenes. iContact provides over 600 email templates that are easy to customize with your logo, images and colors. And we have an award-winning support team ready to help you with any part of the process.
Aren’t bulk messages considered spam?
If you recall, at the beginning of this article we mentioned “permission-based.” Those are key words. Permission-based means you were given the OK to email these people, so not only will you get into their inbox, but they want you there! Does that mean that you will never get marked as spam? No, but if you are up front about how often and what type of messages you will be sending to your lists, then your subscribers are less likely to mark your emails as spam.
I heard email is dead. Is this true?
Quite the opposite! Email is alive and kicking. In fact, Twitter now sends you an email with a recap of “most relevant tweets” sent directly to your email. When used in conjunction with your social media marketing, email can only help get your message out to current and potential customers. According an infographic from late 2011 by VisibleGains, 188 billion emails are sent each day. Depending on what research you read, upwards of 80-90% of marketers use email. Does that say “dead” to you?
Isn’t it expensive?
Email is inexpensive, especially when you consider the ROI mentioned earlier. We have a free trial that lasts for 30 days, and plans start as low as $10/month. And unlike some other services, you don’t have to sign a contract, so you can cancel anytime.
Email marketing isn’t going anywhere, will make your business grow, and is easy to get started in. And we’re here to help. So start your email marketing now.