Email marketing is one of the longest standing marketing channels we know today. Since it's not going away, are you in the market for setting an ESP up, or are you in the market to switch? ESPs can range from very simplistic platforms like Constant Contact to more marketing automation solutions like Marketo or Eloqua. The prices can range depending on the size of your list, the features and the integration. Here's a really basic guide to follow as you get started.
How large is your list?
Most email marketing services price according to the size of your mailing list, or "house list." There are many no-frills services that are free for less than 500 names. When you go over 500 or 1,000 names, prices start from $5 per month to $20 per month, and go up from there. For lists with more than 10,000 names, prices are often over $100 per month.
How often do you plan to mail?
The second major factor besides the size of your list is how often you plan to mail to a list. Some services price by the number of messages sent. For example, a rate of 5 cents per message would cost you $50 every time you mail to a 1,000-person list. If you plan to email to your list several times a month, you might look for a plan that charges by the size of the list and not the number of emails.
What add-on services appeal to you?
The third factor in helping determine the right email marketing vendor relates to the extra services you need or want for your business. Some companies offer assistance with the copy-that is, writing effective email pitches and subject lines. Other companies will help with the creative-that is, designing good-looking messages. Some services can test different versions of a message before mailing to the whole list. And several email marketing programs are integrated with customer relationship management programs (CRM) that facilitate greater tracking capabilities and more strategic engagement tactics, such as lifecycle marketing.
- Make sure you can transfer your existing contacts to your new service. Your new email marketing service will want you to verify that the people already on your list have opted-in. If your first mailing has a bounce rate or complaint rate that is too high, the service might suspend your account. To avoid this, try to identify bounces or complainers and remove them from your mailing list before you transfer to the new service.
- Test the new email service before committing to it. Many email marketing services have a free trial period or will allow you to use the service without charge if you have a small mailing list. You can test the service during the free trial period by using just a small fraction of your list. Then you can import your entire list once you're satisfied that the service meets your expectations.
- Conduct a reputation check before signing with a vendor. If an email marketing firm is violating the CAN-SPAM Act, it won't take long for the firm to get a reputation as a spammer. So-called blacklists are quick to list any company that has a pattern of sending unsolicited commercial email. When a company gets on a prominent blacklist, emails sent by the company often get trapped in spam filters. Check to see if the vendor you want to use is on a major blacklist, and avoid those that are.