E-mail Marketing Handbook, Part One (Jump on the bandwagon!)

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e-mail2This is Part One of a 3-part series on e-mail marketing. Coming in parts Two & Three: how to build your list, and what sort of e-mails to send for best results.

It’s probably no secret to you that I have a thriving e-mail newsletter. And I must say, e-mail marketing has made a huge difference in my business! It’s allowing me to connect with my peeps (that’s you!) on a whole different level, and gaining me more new clients than any other marketing method has.

But it took me a long time to finally jump on that bandwagon! I was daunted at first by the not-knowing how to do it, and trying to decide which e-mail service to use. In fact, the lure of MailChimp’s “forever free” plan was what finally got me started. It was only later that I ended up switching to the not-so-free AWeber, because MailChimp just wasn’t cutting it.

Which brings me to say: If want to work some real e-mail marketing magic for your business, it’s important to find an e-mail marketing service that meets your needs. And, it’s important to do it as early as possible in your e-mail list-building journey. Because the bigger your list, and the more important e-mail becomes to your success strategy, the more of a hassle it’ll be to switch between services. (Trust me, I’ve been there!)

So what should you look for in an e-mail marketing company? Of course, cost is an important factor, but also think about things like:
* How many lists you’ll want. Just one for all your clients or customers? Or multiple lists for different client types or buyers of each specific product you sell?
* Will you need to move subscribers from one list to another, such as from a “prospects” list to a “clients” list?
* Do you need other supporting services, besides just basic e-mail marketing?

The Top Three Contenders

There are tons of e-mail marketing companies out there, and each one has different pros and cons…these here are simply the most widely used among small business owners.

MailChimp: They’ve got a sweet deal for newbie e-mail marketers, in that their free plan remains free as long as you have less than 2,000 subscribers. Personally, I found it to be lacking in features, and eventually I left them for AWeber. (And, it’s interesting to note, that although MC is initially free, once you get above a certain number of subscribers, AWeber costs slightly less than MC). There are plenty of SMB’s who prefer MailChimp…but I am not one of them.

AWeber: It’s base plan starts at $19/month. My two main reasons for loving AWeber* are, their interface is awesomely organized (it’s neat, tidy, and makes so much more sense to me than MC did), and they have great multi-list-management tools (like, the ability to move subscribers automatically from one list to another, and the ability to track who signed up from which of your many web forms/pages). Another plus about AWeber is their opt-in form builder, which has lots of templates to choose from.

InfusionSoft: While I’ve never used them myself, I know a lot of SMB’s who do. InfusionSoft is definitely not for the faint-of-heart; it’s the most expensive option I know of (we’re talking hundreds of $ per month), but it’s great if you’re looking for an all-in-one, bring-out-the-BIG-guns kind of business service. It offers e-mail marketing, plus other things like CRM (customer relationship management), affiliate marketing, shopping cart/landing & sales pages, and many other support services for small business owners – all under one roof.

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If you’re just getting started, don’t settle for the first e-mail marketing service that jumps in your lap. Consider what you’ll need, how much you can afford per month, and so forth. Then check out all your options, read reviews, consult your fellow SMB’s to see what they use/like, and decide for yourself which service to go with.

And, if all else fails, do like I did. Dip your toes in the water with a free MailChimp account, and then once you have a better idea of what you like/want/need in terms of features, while your list is still small, you can move to another service if necessary.

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*Starred links are my affiliate links. My policy is to only be an affiliate for products or services that I personally use and LOVE, or that I know enough about from other business owners who use and love it, that I can recommend it to you with utmost confidence.

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About Barbara Austin

As the graphic designer & founder of Sweet Dreamz Design, Barbara loves working with women entrepreneurs to brand their businesses. She shares a variety of small business advice and anecdotes here on the blog. Check back every week for new tips, inspirations, and how-to articles, or subscribe to get regular updates in your inbox each week!

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