Email marketing: What is it?
Email marketing is essentially a targeted mass mailing carried out via email, to put it simply. The goal of email marketing could be to inform your customers through a newsletter, provide new products or services to a current clientele, advertise to attract new customers, etc. All of the aforementioned actions are perfectly legal business endeavors as long as you abide by a few unwritten rules and as long as the email list you use is "targeted," which means that the names on it are drawn from a database created by your marketing department and represent your current clientele, a list of carefully chosen potential customers, or a list of people who opted in to receive your messages.
You are a spammer and what you are sending is spam, bulk mail, unsolicited email, basically the main enemy of all things good and life in general, if you use a list that you purchased instead of the one mentioned above (you know, "25 million guaranteed AOL email addresses for only 19.95 - plus shipping"), are doing it without notifying the people on your list, or are using other dubious methods. Yes, it is that simple to be identified as a spammer, and it is quite challenging to overcome it.
If your message is deemed to be unsolicited, you will be quickly added to countless black lists among those who offer to give you extra extremities that are inches long and endless orgasmic joys (for only 3 easy payments and some handling fees).
Sounds really dangerous, so why bother?
Opt-in email marketing is undoubtedly much more economical than direct mail, door-to-door sales, or telemarketing. Postage, paper, printing, and envelope costs can add up rapidly. Paying commissions is necessary for door to door sales. As consumers become more and more enraged with the people receiving the so-called cold call, telemarketing causes expensive long distance expenses, frequently without producing remarkable outcomes.
So why not just use some mailing program and my personal email or my company's mail server?
That's exactly what people did in the early days of email marketing, before the art of penile enlargement was perfected. They would compile all of their emails into a crude spreadsheet, run a mail merging tool, connect it to their company's mail system, and presto, thousands of emails would start to fly.
The scenario is indeed conceivable now, but let me describe what might occur under a straightforward set of circumstances:
A high number of emails were generated and sent by a server close to you, according to one of the numerous not-for-profit organizations that chose to police the internet (yep, they can do that). They will add you to a list of people who pose a threat to humanity in order to defend the civilized world against individuals who disseminate spam, viruses, and other pests. The IT department of those other kind corporate individuals who received your intended emails receives regular abuse from irate users who get emails with nude images of persons. Well, Mel, their IT guy makes the decision to install an anti-spam system that connects to that not-for-database profit's of known spammers (oh yeah, did I mention you are now a "known spammer"?) and blocks your emails. Your emails might actually be so effectively banned that it will be impossible for your business to communicate via email, causing your IT staff to lose their minds and/or get sacked.
In general, not that excellent. Other potential outcomes include the need to develop an opt-in/opt-out system, state-specific legislation requiring you to make it simple for your audience to unsubscribe, difficulty structuring your emails in a professional-looking manner, etc.
Last but not least, it takes time and is plainly frustrating to send hundreds of emails, manage lists, and add and remove subscribers. The only way to do it is to automate as much as possible, or, the best option, to outsource to a business that specializes in it.
I'm not a huge fan of outsourcing, as I'm renowned for supporting the "do it in house" idea. However, when it comes to bulk mail... I advise staying away from it and letting the experts handle it.
If you are concerned about the cost, realize that it will still be less than the ongoing overhead and expenses of the traditional options, not to mention the wonderful opportunities to reach a much wider audience, much faster, if you use email marketing services (practically instantly).
What qualities should an email marketing business have?
1. Automating your requests to subscribe and unsubscribe
To add a subscription form to your website, many email marketing providers will give you the precise HTML code you need to enter into your website. The better providers further give subscribers the option to change their information or unsubscribe from a list via a link at the bottom of each email, automating the process for you.
2. Email personalization
The ability to employ mail merge features to customise each email you send is another potent feature of many email marketing systems. In addition to the required first name and last name fields, the better services also permit the use of custom fields.
3. Handling bounce-back emails
Emails that were sent to email addresses that are full, blocked, or otherwise unavailable are referred to as bouncebacks. You'll essentially hear back saying that your communication wasn't received. All email list management tools can manage subscribe and unsubscribe requests and send emails, but without integrated bounceback email handling, all undeliverable emails will be routed back to you, which may be a major hassle if your list is enormous. Your email program should ideally be able to handle bouncebacks for you. When a bounceback is received, the software records the address and, in the event of a subsequent bounceback, sends the email address to a list of dead addresses.
This removal capability is crucial because if you consistently send emails that have a lot of bouncebacks, you risk being flagged as a spammer. You should do everything in your power to avoid this.
4. Email in HTML
Sending HTML emails is a feature that has been available for a while. The majority of email marketing businesses allow users to send messages that contain both visuals and formatted text. You should definitely be on the lookout for this.
Some of your users, meanwhile, may not be able to see email messages in HTML format. This proportion typically ranges from 10 to 20 percent. They might see a string of meaningless code instead of your attractive email. These 10–20% of people will open your emails using the majority of email list management services and are quite likely to label you as a spammer.
Choose businesses that send communications using multi-part MIME to prevent this. Users who are unable to view HTML emails will instead receive them in the standard text format when you send an HTML email using multi-part MIME.
So who ought to you employ?