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Archive for January, 2009

Deciding on an Email Service

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

There are many email services that allow you to import your lists, layout emails, send, and run reports.  People often ask what service to use.  I’ll refrain from giving out company names because my answer is often different depending on client needs.

These services always charge in one of two ways.  It’s either a fee based on the amount of people in your list or a per email cost.  The price always scales.  So you pay less per person or per email as your quantity goes up.  I have found that all the main stream services you find online are reliable.  So often the service they offer at the price they offer is the biggest concern.  Typically, it breaks down like this.  If you are going to be sending frequently (at least once a month), it often makes sense to use the service that bills by the number of people in the list.  The only time this isn’t true is when the list is full of junk data.  This is a problem in and of itself but from a pricing standpoint it causes you to pay a higher price while not getting your message delivered.  If you are sending infrequently (sometimes once a month or less) then often the by email service is more appropriate.  Pricing tends to fluctuate between 5 and 1 cent an email, based on contract length and number of people.  This is an advantage to pricing by list when you have quarterly announcement or infrequent promotions. 

Other folks find small companies or affiliate services that offer an inexpensive email delivery system.  Others have an in-house database that allows for mass email sends.  My suggestion on both is to avoid them.  Both solutions have one major flaw.  They aren’t working to protect their sending rights.  Almost all of these services are blacklisted by major ISP’s, meaning people don’t get your emails.  The single greatest benefit to using a mainstream email service is that they work with ISP’s to maintain high rates of delivery.  Most small services and all in house services don’t.  I recently encountered a small affiliate email marketing service that was blocked by hotmail, yahoo, and AOL.  They were Gmail away from being blocked from all the big four.  I also once encountered an in-house database that had all email from a company registered as SPAM.  They were using their own site and servers to deliver the messages (which slowed all online activity) and due to a handful of SPAM complaints they were blacklisted.  They discovered the problem when their customer service emails weren’t received by customers.  The emails were being put in SPAM filters or blocked all together. 

It’s a lot of unnecessary work to save a little money.  Don’t run the risk of paying for something that isn’t providing the service advertised.  As it is with many cases, you get what you pay for.  If a service is unbelievably cheap it means they aren’t doing the back end work.  In email marketing shortcuts usually mean your message won’t be delivered.  Worse yet don’t inhibit the entire company’s ability to communicate via email  by using an untested in-house solution. 

So what service is right for you?  A reliable mainstream service is right for everyone.  From there, break down how many emails you plan on sending and how many people you send it to.  Most of the time you’ll find that the less than a month frequency trends toward a by email payment structure and once month or more frequency trends toward a by contact list payment structure. 

Need more help in setting up or running an email campaign? Call me (412.417.2309) and we can construct an ideal matrix for your company or organization.

– Eric
eMarketing Innovation

How Should a Struggling Economy Affect Marketing?

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

With the economy struggling many companies are looking to trim expenses.  One common target is the marketing budget.  While that certainly might be a reasonable plan, some people undertake it in a panic mode rather than examining it’s effect on the business.  For example, a common method is to simply have a set monthly budget and cut it by some percentage.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to analyse what is resulting in new business and remove the ineffective marketing efforts?  Before cutting marketing dollars to weather the economic climate, make sure you aren’t cutting a valuable vehicle for revenue.

I was recently speaking with a business owner that claimed she had lost a couple sizable clients,  could easily envision losing more in the down market, and was cutting marketing efforts to weather the storm.  I was confused because what I was hearing was that she was losing existing revenue and not putting any plans in place to replace it.  That sounds like a recipe to go out of business. 

No one is actively looking to go under, so be careful in what gets cut.  It is certainly not the time for frivolous spending but haphazard budget cutting can be equally disastrous.  A struggling economy should affect marketing.  It should make it more streamlined.  Analyze what you are currently doing from a marketing standpoint.  What activities are being done just because that’s what has always been done?  What marketing activities are generating leads and sales to keep the bottom line viable through this challenging time?  Remove the dead weight but be sure to nurture the effective strategies.

The worst thing that can be done to marketing is ending it without knowing why.  Many people will make that mistake over the coming months.  Those individuals that take the time to analyze their results will find themselves in an admirable position.  Not only will their marketing dollars be better spent than before, they will likely have less competition as other companies haphazardly cut marketing efforts to decrease costs.